SBG daily ~ Shar-ities

I’ve got the new computer set up and running and got the old one set up in the living room for the kids.  Then ran into a problem.  Apparently, while my cable acct says I get two lines, there’s only one hole on the back of the modem.  So, either I get a splitter and run 2 computers on it, which probably won’t work, or I have to go get a new modem for in there and pay an extra 4 dollars a month.  Nothing’s ever easy.

AND, trying to get back into the habit of everything is dificult, too.  I just remembered, “Oh yeah… My Google Reader!” and I’ve got 156 posts to get through now, not to mention totally spacing the SBG SBG coverdaily yesterday, Booking Through Thursday and Friday Fill-ins.  And I’ve been spaced out with reading.  I’ve only managed to read 1/2 a manga book last week and about 25 pages of Home Repair by Liz Rosenberg.  Well, anyway…

Today’s daily is the last one and I want to give everyone a chance to leave a link to their favorite charities in the comments.  Be they local, national, or international, online or off, what are some of your favorite charities?

Here are a few of mine:

Emmaus Mission Center is very close to my heart.  At one point in time, my girls and I were homeless.  We stayed at the Emmaus shelter for three months while I took the time to save money and get my brains screwed in straight.  If they hadn’t been there, I don’t know where I’d be today.  Besides a shelter, they also have a girls’ home and a boys’ home, a benevolent center, food pantry, Birthright Center, and a Hispanic help center.

FreeRice.comis a fun website where you answer trivia questions and win a  grain of rice per correct answer.  The rice you win will then be donated to help fight starvation around the world.  Sammi, my oldest introduced the site to me, and I can tell you, from experience, that there is a maximum number of correct answers a day, but it takes like 3 or 4 hours to get there.

The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation is a great example of how kind acts can be contagious.  On this site you’ll be able to get ideas of things you can do, as well as report the good deeds you yourself have done.  You can also get together a team.

Feeding America, formerly America’s Second Harvest, uses monetary donations to buy food and get the food to local food banks where it can be distributed to those in need.  Whereas FreeRice.com is global, Feeding America, as the the name implies, is a domestic charity.

I have so many more charity links, but they are on the old computer and I haven’t even started the process of transferring the data yet.  But now you can help out your favorite charities by sharing a link to them so we can all check them out.

SBG daily ~ Right Place, Right Time

SBG coverBusy busy busy!  I’ve just hooked up my new birthday computer and ordered Pizza Hut for supper.  My hands were filthy from all the dust bunnies that had collected in the old computer and under all the snakes (wires).  I took off the cover on the old tower and cleaned all the dust and fuzz out of it, which must’ve been at least an inch thick.  Maybe that’s why it was running slow?  THIS is the first post written on my new computer, and I must say YAY!! :-)

So, today’s Something Beyond Greatness daily post is a continuation of yesterdays, or rather, an expounding of it.  In the book, the authors give a formula for greatness.  One part is the ability to see with love, to see the person you’re helping as a person belonging to you in some way.  For instance, when you see the commercial of the child scrounging through the garbage for dinner, do you see a child who needs help and are moved to do something?  Or, and this is the category I fall in, do you see a camera crew who has dinners provided, a host trying to convince you to send him (or her) money so they can “help” them (they’ll give a kid a sandwich, and take the rest of the money to Rio, I bet).  Okay, so the commercials don’t work on me, but I help the missions at church and “adopted” a child or two in Uganda and Brazil.

A second part of the equation is what I talked about yesterday, Instrument Consciousness.  Being open and willing to be used to do a kind act.  I ran into the house, even though it was on fire, and pushed the people out the door.  The third part is that of Destiny, fate, or the design of the supreme being, God’s Will.  Being in the right place at the right time.  This is the part we’re discussing today.  It’s this part that’s the most humbling of the process and what makes a person an instrument and NOT a hero.

For a long time, and even now, so many things about that night just leaves me in awe… not of what I did, but of the odds that I was even able to help.   First off, I was on the phone with my mom at that time of night, because the cell service I had provided free calls after 9 at night.  That particular night, I was even later than normal to call because the kids were late to bed.  Normally, I would have been inside and in bed by then.  I was outside on the porch talking because I have a weird Bermuda cell zone in my house and I had to go outside to get reception.  I had moved my chair to where I was sitting because the door we had been using (our house has 2 front doors) had gotten stuck in the frame and we couldn’t use it and I had slid the lawn chair in front of the stuck door. 

Now, all that put me in the right spot on my front porch to see the glow of the fire between the houses across from me.  Six inches either way, and I would’ve only seen the houses.  AND it put me on the porch at the right time to have seen it.  Add to it that I’m nosy by nature and HAD to check out the weird light, and I was in the right place at the right time.

Now, at that time of night, the neighbors hadn’t noticed because first shift workers were in bed and those on the second shift were still at work and wouldn’t have seen it for another hour at least.  So, if I hadn’t been in that exact spot on my porch at that time, the kids whose bedrooms were on the second floor would’ve been overcome by smoke and possibly died, if they had had to wait for second-shifters to come home and call 911.

It’s all the what ifs and maybes, the overwhelming amount of coincidences (if you believe in coincidences like that) that humble me and leave me in awe.  I wasn’t a hero.  I was in the right place at the right time and I had no choice, I had to act.  I had to help.  To choose to walk away would’ve been unthinkable.  The lady hugged me and cried and held on to me for a good fifteen minutes.  In the end, there was no mention of me in the papers, no ceremony or parade in my honor.  I think the firemen who do that sort of thing ON PURPOSE as a career are real heroes.  The people going UP the stairs on September 11, 2001 while everyone was going down, away from the blazing, steel-warping inferno… those people are heroes.  People who join the military to protect their county and help to bring freedom to others, they are the real heroes.

So, has there ever been a time where you were in the right place at the right time to help someone?

Don’t forget to enter to win a copy of Something Beyond Greatness, and comment here for an extra entry

SBG daily ~ Running into a Burning Building

SBG coverMy apologies for being late with this post.  Today’s been a busy day here with appointments, lunch, the library, the post office… It’s nice and cool and I really should be mowing and cleaning and doing yard work… Wow, I’m wore out just thinking about it!  But before I go to work… or lay down and nap (praying for rain… it’s a good excuse), I wanted to get this Something Beyond Greatness Daily Post in.

One of the things that was discussed in the book was how people who do heroic acts of kindness, like jump in freezing water to save a drowning person or stand up against a group of bullies to protect another, just do it.  They don’t think about whether they’ll die from hypothermia or take the other person’s beating.  It just seemed like the right and often only choice.  In the book, the author’s call this having an Instrument Consciousness.  Your ego steps aside which allows you to be open to be guided by God (fate, destiny, The Force) to do great things.

My own personal experience with this happened a couple years ago.  I was sitting on the front porch around 11 pm, talking to my mom on my cell phone.  I happened to notice a strange orange glow through the clouds over the hill across the street.  At first, I thought it was just the moon trying to shine through, but the intensity of the light waxed and waned, and it just wasn’t right.  Being of a curious *translation: NOSY* nature, I got up and began walking up the street toward it.

What it turned out to be was a house with the attic area engulfed in flames.  I had been telling my mom about investigating the weird glow, and suddenly said, “Mom, I gotta go.  The house is on fire.”  I was running by then and dialing 911 on the phone (btw, 911 on a cell goes to a nat’l center and you tell them the emergency then they redirect your call to your local authorities.  Save time, program the local number in the phone.)  While I was on with the operator, telling them the address of the house, I was running in to rouse the sleeping inhabitants. 

Imagine.  I didn’t knock on the door, I just busted in.  I’m  yelling, “Get out!  Your house is on fire!” and wrenching people from their beds.   Yelling to the mom, “Is there anyone else?  Is there anyone upstairs?  What can I grab for you?”  I didn’t think about manners, or LAWS, I broke in!  But there wasn’t any other choice.  It was impossible to turn and go home.  It was impossible to knock politely and inform them.  I didn’t suggest they exit the burning building.  I pushed them out.

I don’t tell you this because I’m bragging about being a hero.  Does it make me a hero when I had no choice?  I was only an instrument.

What acts of kindness have you done when there didn’t seem to be another choice?

Don’t forget to enter to win a copy of Something Beyond Greatness, and comment here for an extra entry

SBG daily ~ The Ripple Effect of Greatness

SBG coverThis week I’ll be posting about topics inspired by reading Something Beyond Greatness by Judy Rodgers and Gayatri Naraine.  Today, I’d like to focus on how we get inspired to acts of kindness by watching others giving of themselves.

In chapter 9, “The Ripple Effect of Greatness,” the authors discuss how acts of kindness are contagious to those who observe them.  It makes sense, of course, when a child grows up with domestic abuse, that child is more likely to grow up to be an abuser or victim. 

 

Witnessing a good deed creates emotions of warmth, positivity, optimism, compassion and a desire to act.  In the book, these feelings are called “elevation.”

However, one doesn’t have to see the act first hand to get the effects.  You can read an inspirational book or news item, or watch a movie of people going above and beyond to help.  Even a TV commercial can inspire us to act.

Some of the most inspirational books and movies I’ve read that got me off my butt and helping were:

  • We Are Marshall~ How can you gripe about the little irritations and wanna give up after watching this movie (and Matthew McConaughey is a cutie).
  • The Bible ~ Yes, definitely The Bible, lookit… Esther, Jesus, Paul and so many more who put their life on the line, literally DIED to help others.  Regardless of your religious beliefs, how can you NOT be inspired by them?
  • The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer ~ Bonhoeffer’s life in general, and this book especially, forces me to step up and get real, not to just whine about it.  I think he’s one of the under-appreciated heroes of WWII.

What movies or books have you seen or read that inspired you?

Don’t forget to enter to win a copy of Something Beyond Greatness, and comment here for an extra entry ;-)

Something Beyond Greatness by Judy Rodgers and Gayatri Naraine

SBG coverTitle:  Something Beyond Greatness:  Conversations With a Man of Science and a Woman of God

Authors:  Judy Rodgers and Gayatri Naraine

Paperback:  122 pages

ISBN:  9780757307812

Pull up a chair and prepare to be inspired as the Something Beyond Greatness TLC Book Tour pulls in for a stop In the Shadow of Mt. TBR :-)

First off, I have to say that when I first read about this book, I was expecting something different.  I had understood it to be a book of tales of heroism in the face of danger, stories of people who stood up for what’s right without thought for the consequences, stories of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Ghandi and everyday people.  While it did have a few stories in it, it was more a book about the recipe for such people.

[Great acts have] three elements: (1)seeing with love, (2) acting from the heart, and (3) the mystery of destiny -right place, right time. -page 20

At first, I didn’t think this book was much.  At times it was difficult for me to retain what was being said, which may have to do with the fact it’s been hot and I had walked to the library in the heat to read it there.  But the crazy thing about it is that the info pops out and says boo! now as I’m watching the news, movies, or reading.  There’s this little voice in the back of my mind that analyzes events I encounter through what I’ve read.  AND the whole time reading it, every heroic act I’ve seen or heard or done popped up for application or proof of what I was reading.

The person who will step into greatness must see the others with love, compassion, and concern.  He or she will have a sense of “mine” towards them.  Then he or she must be able to sense or see the way through to help.  Third, this person must have the will to step out and do it.  Usually, this will is recalled by the person afterwards as more of a compulsion, “I just did what anyone else would do.”

Every human being writes a small page in history; every human being -irrespective of how big or how small- writes a small page.  That is real human history. -page 19

My first impulse was to give this book three stars, but after watching it ooze and stew and bubble, I’m thinking it’s much more effective than I first thought and I’m going to give Something Beyond Greatnessby Judy Rodgers and Gayatri Naraine 4 out of 5 stars.

Additional resources for this book are:

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And now, because I think this book is very much a worthwhile read… and, because I somehow got a second book :-)We’re gonna have  a giveaway for a new copy!

This giveaway will be open until 11:59 pm, Saturday July 4th, 2009 with the winner to be announced on next week’s Sunday Salon post (July 5th).  Contest is open worldwide :-D , as long as you’ve got an address for me to slap on the packaging, you’re welcome to enter!

  1. To enter, leave a comment here letting me know you’d like to win a copy.  This will count as your official entry.
  2. Each day this coming week I will be posting something pertaining to the book, one day will be about stories you’ve heard that inspired you, inspirational movies, acts of greatness you yourself have done or witnessed, etc.  When you comment on the daily posts, you’ll earn a bonus entry!
  3. Post this contest on your blog and leave the link here for an extra entry
  4. Tweet about it, make sure to use @koolaidmom so it’ll show up on my TweetDeck, or leave the link of your update, for an aditional bonus entry.
  5. If you do all the above, commenting everyday, blogging it and tweeting, that’ll be 8 entries and I’ll add 2 more as a bonus, giving you 10 chances to win :-) (This post is technically a Monday post for June 29th)

Good Luck!

Viral Video Wednesday and 19th Wife Winner!

Happy hump day everyone :-)  First thing’s first:  As promised, today’s the day I announced the winner of The 19th Wife giveaway.  Despite her misgivings at being the first entrant, because Mr. Random Number doesn’t like the number 1, rhapsodyinbooks is our winner!  Congrats to ya!  If you’ll send me your address, I’ll be happy to forward it to David Ebershoff so he can get that in the mail to ya ;-)

And now on for Viral Video Wednesday :-)

This week’s topic is DINOSAURS.  You can post any vid that deals in any way, shape or form with Dinosaurs, whether they be extinct reptiles or crotchety old men, or even obsolete technology.  And you know me, mine will be weird and wacky or funny.  So, on with the vids!

 

This first video is one of our absolute favorite at our house.  To give you a glimpse of our family dynamics, I’ll just tell you that, after the first time we watched it, we identified who each of them were.  The T-rex in here is Sam (my oldest, who is 16), then the middle character is Maggie (my youngest, age 10), and the non-dinosaur character is  Gwen (who is 15 today, Happy Birthday to her!). 

Maggie, btw, is physically incapable of belching… seriously, you can imagine the colic as a baby… so all gas is converted to the outboard motor, if ya knowwhaddamean.  She is proud of the fact she can fart on command, and actually takes the stance this little dino does… which is why that is her character.

And now, the real reason dinosaurs are extinct!

One of the first video game-to-movies was Super Mario Brothers.  We have the VHS of it, and watch it on a regular basis.  It’s one of our favorite movies, especially since John Leguizamo is in it and the Princess is played by Samantha  Mathis (my oldest daughter’s name is Sam, remember?).  I love the song Walk the Dinosaur originally by Was (Not Was), which was used in the movie. 

Here’s the music video from the Super Mario Brothers movie, with scenes from the movie and performed by George Clinton and the Goombas.

While watching the Walk the Dinosaur video, Sam came home from summer school and started going on about the movie, which always leads back to the best scene in the movie:  Mario and Luigi’s escape from the elevator-full of goombas. 

Dancing and music are primal, and Luigi takes advantage of that fact in this next vid clip:(the song, btw, is Somewhere My Love)

And one of my favorite TV from when I was a teen was The Dinosaurs. The Sinclairs was your typical 80′s family… 60,000,080s BC, that is.  The dad, Earl, worked for the Wesayso Corporation pushing down trees, while Fran, his wife, stayed home and took care of the baby.  Robbie and Charlene, the Sinclair teens, went to school and had typical teen concerns and attitudes.  It was a wonderfully fun show that ran from 1991 to 1994 (not long enough, IMHO)… Next stop for me is Netflix.  I’ve gotta put this one in my queue!

By request, Maggie wants next week’s VVW topic to be:  Mash-ups!  For those of you who don’t know, mash-ups are videos made with parts of two or more movies and are made to seem like one show.  Like Harry Potter video with South Park audio track, or like Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin’?‘s recent post of Buffy vs. Edward (which is what made Mags ask me to do mash-ups next week.)

So now it’s your turn… Share your favorite Dinosaur vids!

The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff

Title:  The 19th Wife

Author:  David Ebershoff

Hardcover:  507 pages

Date Published:  2008

Publisher:  Random House

ISBN:  9781400063970

Twenty minutes later we were outside the Chevron, eating a sack of microwaved burritos.  ‘Now I know who you are,” said Johnny.  “But remind me:  why’d you get kicked out?”

“I was caught alone with one of my stepsisters.  What about you?”

“I was listening to the Killers.  It wasn’t even my disc, it was my brother’s.  But they caught me.  I don’t even like the Killers.”

That wasn’t the real reason.  They get rid of the boys to take away the competition.  With no boys around, the old men have the girls to themselves.

-The 19th Wifeby David Ebershoff, page 96

In The 19th Wife, David Ebershoff switches back and forth from the story of Ann Eliza Young, 19th wife of Brigham Young and his only EX, and the mystery behind the murder of Jordan’s father.   Jordan’s mother, wife number 19,  sits in jail, accused of shooting her polygamist husband, insists she is innocent.  Jordan believes her and sets about to discover the truth, which ends up being a lot more convoluted than he thought possible.

One of the interesting things about this book is how the two seemingly unrelated stories of the two 19th wives were used to not only display how such a lifestyle can be possible in the 21st century but how such a belief system came to be.  It gives the history behind the “Revelation” of plural marriage through the eyes a Sister Wife, and how the practice affected the whole family.

How this book affected me:

I couldn’t help but get angry again and again while reading it.  For one, it boggles my brain how any woman with half the sense God gave a house plant would tolerate such a practice.  I don’t mean that I don’t understand it on an intellectual level, the book does an excellent job of showing how it was a progressive thing, but at a heart level I can’t believe (it scares me to think it possible) that a woman would say, “Why yes, you have my permission to objectify me and treat me like livestock.  Then, when my daughters are older, you can passel them out to their uncles and other men three times their age to be chattel.  It sounds like a lovely set up!” 

No, I learned the history of it, that a man decided to use his position as a leader to cover up his own leachery by saying, “God said” then made his followers eternal salvation contigent upon their following along because if everyone’s doing it then it’s not as bad.  Then the powers that were discovered that if they kept the women breeding their numbers and voting power would be formidable.  Also, the idea of the man being king of his castle and serviced and waited upon by as many women as he wants, doing whatever he wants, would bring in flocks of them in a time when men were the only ones with legislative powers.

To be honest, I haven’t finished this book yet, I’m not even halfway through.  But I will continue to read it because it’s very compelling and well-written.  I want to know how 5 will fare… Why did she lie about not being there the night her step father was killed?  Will Queenie get caught? or will she escape the Firsts?  Did Jordan’s mom do it? Will she be found guilty?  What’s the lawyer’s, Mr. Heber’s, real angle and why does he seem to want her to be guilty?  Is there really unrest within the Firsts? And how did Ann Eliza become the 19th wife of Brigham Young?  I can’t put it down… I wish life would leave me be to read it, though.

Well written, intriguing and, best of all, inspires conversations and further study, The 19th Wifeby David Ebershoff is an excellent book.  I give it 4 1/2 out of 5 stars.

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And NOW for the good stuff…. 

How would you like to win a copy of The 19th Wife? 

To enter, leave a comment telling me you’d like a chance to win :-)  Contest ends 11:59 pm, June 23, with the winner announced at the beginning of next week’s Viral Video Wednesday post (June 24th).

 

Tweet, blog and email about this contest for an extra entry each.

Goblins! An UnderEarth Adventure by Royce Buckingham

Title:  Goblins! An UnderEarth Adventure

Author:  Royce Buckingham

Hardcover:  232 pages

Date Published:  2008

Publisher:  G. P. Putnam’s Sons (div of Penguin Young Readers Group)

ISBN:  9780399250026

PJ put on one of his father’s spare POLICE jackets. “C’mon, we’re already here.  Besides, you said it takes an hour round trip to get to the border crossing and back.  Any smugglers would probably still be forty minutes away.”

PJ was reaching to put the car into park when something moved in the darkness.  A patch of shadow shifted against a background of dark trees.  As soon as he noticed it, it was gone.  “What was that?” he said.

“What was what?” Sam said, staring into the forest.  “I can’t see a thing.  It’s pitch-black.”

PJ reached down and flipped the headlight switch.  The sudden light glared on a dark, husky human shape in front of the car.  It waved a club-shaped object and brought it down onto the metal hood of the cruiser.

Wham!

“Smuggler!” Sam yelled.

PJ’s foot was still on the gas pedal.  He jammed it down instinctively, and the car lurched forward.  There was no time for the figure to move.  Thud!  It went down like a bowling pin and disappeared beneath the bumper.

PJ hit the brakes and the police cruiser jerked to a stop.  He took a deep breath and quickly locked the door.

“You hit him!” Sam cried.

“I know,” PJ breathed, staring into the woods.

“He’s under the car!”

“I know!”

“What if he’s a farmer or something?”  Sam said.

“You’re the one who screamed that he was a smuggler.”

“How do I know who he is?”

“It’s your stupid little town!”  PJ snapped.

A low, pained growl rose from beneath the car.

“He’s alive,” PJ said, relieved.  “Let’s get out of here.”

“We can’t leave him,” Sam said.  “There’s no way he can be okay after you smushed him.”

PJ shook his head.  “Dude, I just ran over a guy in a borrowed police car.  My instincts tell me to drive far away and never speak of this again.”

-Goblins! An UnderEarth Adventure by Royce Buckingham, pages 16-17

Goblins! by Royce Buckingham has been some of the most fun 200-some pages of reading I’ve had in a while.  The characters are normal, average teens who are called upon to act in extraordinary ways to save each other and to protect their world from the goblins of the UnderEarth. 

One of the things I like about this book is that there are no 100% evil bad guys in the book, they’re a mix of good and bad.  While PJ would prefer to stay out of things, he chooses to step up and take responsibility for his actions and for Sam, who was left in his care by his father.  Sam wants adventure, and bites off a lot more than he can chew, but nevertheless manages to prove he has a heart of a warrior.  The goblins have silly, descriptive names like “General Eww-Yuk,” “Slurp,” “Slouch,” “Thick,” etc,  enjoy eating humans, fighting, humans as well as each other, are dumber than a bag of hammers, yet they are extremely inquisitive and quick to learn and adapt.

Another thing that I liked about Goblins! is that the writing is simple, the details are just enough to make things easy to picture but not so thick that it bogs you down.  At times it reminds me of The Spiderwick Chronicles, and at other times Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth.

Besides having a highly imaginative setting and great actions scenes, including 7 foot bugs-versus-human battles, it also has a great sense of humor.  It is a book with teenagers as the heroes and main characters, so the surliness and sarcasm of the age often shines through.  For instance:  When Sam is brought before General Eww-yuk by the goblin Bargle

“Have you talked to it?” Eww-yuk asked.

“Yes,” Bargle said.  “It barks the words ‘screw’ and ‘off’ … over and over.”

-Goblins! An UnderEarth Adventure by Royce Buckingham, page 71

I think this book is ideal for the tweenage-early teen years, 9-14, and probably more for boys than girls, though I think Mags will enjoy and laugh at it.  I’d also like to warn that this book does contain the deaths of central characters that readers may get attached to, so if your reader is potentially sensitive to this, then you might want to wait. 

For being one of the most enjoyable, reality-suspending, relaxing books I’ve read in a long time, a book that wasn’t teaching the reader or delivering a message (if it was, I didn’t notice at all), a book that was just like losing 25 years and being on the playground again…  I give Goblins! An UnderEarth Adventure by Royce Buckingham 4 out of 5 stars.  It probably won’t win any awards, but it is pure pleasure.

 

Don’t forget to sign up to win a copy of Goblins! An UnderEarth Adventure in the Great Goblins! Giveaway. Contest ends 11;59 pm, May 31st, with the winner to be announced on Monday, June 1st!

Great Goblins! Giveaway

I’ve just started reading Goblins! An UnderEarth Adventure by Royce Buckingham, and it’s a lot of fun. It’s a fast and easy read, and I may get Mags to do a guest review on it, as well… seems like something she’d really enjoy. It reminds me a bit of The Spiderwick Chronicles, with goblins and kids battling goblins and goblin goo all over, but it’s its own book as well.

 

Here’s a trailer for the book:

and a blurb from Amazon.com:

Sneaking out into the woods near the Canadian border, Sam and PJ come across what looks like a mutant gorilla with a bad attitude. But it’s no ape— it’s a goblin, and thousands more of them live under the earth, kept in check only by a small corps of human Guardians.
Sam finds a tunnel below the surface, and in no time he’s in the goblins’ clutches. With goblin leaders Eww-Yuk and Slurp at odds, it will take all of PJ’s strength and ingenuity to get Sam back—but then again, how hard could it be to outsmart a goblin?

Featuring the high adventure and slapstick humor that made Demonkeeper a fantasy favorite, Goblins! is a subterranean romp that will keep readers laughing as they race through the pages to see what happens next.

So, I want to share the Goblin! fun with you! I have a second, spanking-new copy to give away to a lucky winner. I think we’ll keep this one quick and easy.

  1. Leave a comment here to enter the contest.
  2. Blog this contest for an extra 3 entries, and make sure to leave a comment with the link.
  3. email 5 people or more about the contest, make sure to include me ( ibetnoonehasthisdamnid@yahoo.com )  in the CC, for another 3 entries.
  4. Post the contest and link (shortened URL: http://bit.ly/vX3Se ) on Twitter, make sure to include @thekoolaidmom in your tweet so I’ll catch it, for another 3 bonus entries.
  5. Leave a comment on the review of the book when I post it Saturday for another bonus entry.

Contest is open until 11:59 pm, EDT, and I’ll post the winners names on Monday, June 1st :-)  Good luck!

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!

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