Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sunday Salon-Barack Obama Book Giveaway

The American Journey of Barack Obama
Published by Little Brown & Company
176 pages

This colorful chronological compilation of stunning, photos and candid text makes this book an enjoyable read. This is no simple coffee table book. It is a chapter by chapter biography starting with Barack Obama's intriguing family tree to his rocket rise to top political ranks.

The introduction by Ted Kennedy is inspiring. He sets the tone and theme of the book when he says of Barack Obama,
"he refuses to be trapped in the patterns of the past."
How many of us have put our hope and faith in this man to lead our country during these tenuous time?

Published in October 2008, prior to knowing the election outcome, this beautifully crafted book follows the life of Barack Obama and his orbital spin from Senator in 2004 to Presidential Candidate in 2008. His personality shines through each chapter with dialog and exceptional photography capturing just right moments in time.

He admits being shaped by his maternal grandparents and mother. It was fascinating to read that his mother was a child of the 60's who had a Utopian view of a better life common to youth of the time. She instilled in him her ideals of fairness and freedom. It was noted that Barack remembers his mother's lessons of tolerance, equality and standing up for the disadvantaged. Themes he echoed in his campaigning.

This is the type of short biographical stories, snippets and sketches of Barack Obama that are presented in this multi-chapter book. The chapters are, The Family Tree, Roots, Boyhood, Young Man on the Rise, Chicago, Washington, Aspects of Obama, and lastly, The Journey Continues.

Fascinating stories, captivating pictures and a compelling subject will make everyone want this on their Christmas Wishlist. Highly recommended.

Thanks to the Hachette Group, a copy of this book will be raffled off.
Leave a comment on my blog anytime until December 4th to be entered into the giveaway drawing. See the original post for details.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

November 22 is America Unchained Day!!!

The American Independent Business Alliance has declared November 22nd to be Unchained Day in America and Canada. You can read their National Press Release here.

The objective of AMIBA's plan today, is to support local independent sellers and ask buyers to unchain themselves from the large chain stores for one day. The potential to pump millions into local communities is enormous. Just imagine the impact one day of sales from people who have made a choice to shop locally can make. According to AMIBA, the day long event was planned to occur before the holiday rush in order to maximize awareness and revenue.

Anyone buying books or planning to buy books for the holidays, think about doing your shopping today, November 22nd at one of the bookshops in your community. Check out the site where they have tips and suggestions to help you. They have an easy to use electronic wish list that you can use to stay organized. They, along with many other organizations, are joining today to support the AMIBA and their initiatives. When shopping today think local, not global as they each stand to benefit.

I recently blogged about on this blog. One helpful idea they mentioned was to visit a local bookshop, write a review about the store and to also make sure the store was on the Indie Bound map. Today I'm excited about visiting a small bookshop up the road.

It is possible to make a huge impact with a small effort by each one of us. However, it will take a huge collective effort by "all of us" to realize the potential gains possible for your local independent sellers and ultimately your community.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Bookworm's Award

Lesa at Lesa's Book Critiques just awarded me The Bookworm's Award. Thank you!

Thank you Lesa for sending this surprising Meme to me along with the Bookworm Award. Of course I will participate. What fun to enjoy in the middle of the week.

Along with the award, there are a few rules. Open the closest book to you-not your favorite or most intellectual book, but the book closest to you at the moment-to page 56. Write out the fifth sentence as well as the next two to five sentences. Pass this on to five blogging friends.

The book closest to me is The King's Daughter by Sandra Worth. I will be reviewing this book in the next couple of weeks having received an ARC from the author. Thank you Sandra. Page 56, the fifth sentence begins:
I dimly remembered a man who was unkempt and frightening, for he had worn a bloody apron then. But the old man who stood before us bore no resemblance to my childhood memory. He was dressed most elegantly in a black velvet cap set with a jeweled brooch, an attire of rich green silk and camlet, and a black mantle edged with beaver trim over which was hung a massive gold chain.

"Your Grace," he said, flourishing a deep bow, "I am sore distressed to find you in sanctuary once more."

"John Gould," my mother said, offering her hand, which he kissed.

The King's Daughter is a novel about the first Tudor Queen, Elizabeth of York, also known as the people's queen, "Elizabeth the Good." This passage selected by chance from the designated page 56 requirement for this Meme, describes in colorful vivid detail the character of John Gould. This is just one excellent example of how her rich imagery places us in the same room and time period in history. Just a little bit of a tease while you await my review of The King's Daughter a page turning historical novel from this passionate period of Tudor England.

So, I'm passing on the award to five people. Tag, you're it! And, if you're not into memes, here's my apology. Remember, you never have to pass one on, if you don't want to play.

Ruth at Bookish Ruth
Marie at Boston Bibliophile
Jen at Devourer of Books
Iliana at bookgirl's nightstand
Maggie at Maggie Reads

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Hachette Book Group.. Celebrate History Book Giveaway

With grateful thanks to Hachette Book Group, I am hosting a book giveaway. The winner will receive a copy of THE AMERICAN JOURNEY OF BARACK OBAMA by The Editors of LIFE Magazine. History was made on November 4th this year with the election of our first African American President. On January 20th, Barack Obama will take the oath of office and become the 44th President to the US.

According to the publisher,
The American Journey of Barack Obama covers the candidate from his childhood and adolescence to his time as editor of The Harvard Law Review and his Chicago activist years, culminating with the excitement and fervor of the historic 2008 Democratic National Convention. The unfolding drama of Obama's life and political career is cinematic in scope, and never has it been presented so compellingly.

In addition to a powerful array of photographs that were taken by many of the country's greatest photographers (and some that were snapped, in the quiet moments, by Obama family members themselves), this book also includes a Foreword by Senator Edward M. Kennedy, an incisive narrative biography and original essays by some of our finest writers, including Gay Talese, Charles Johnson, Melissa Fay Greene, Andrei Codrescu, Fay Weldon, Richard Norton Smith, Bob Greene and several others. Many readers will find a new understanding of Obama. All readers will feel that they are bearing witness to a singular, undeniably American story.

The Rules:

To celebrate this history making event, anyone who leaves a comment on this blog post dated today, November 18th will receive one entry. You will receive another entry for each subsequent comment you leave when I write a new posting. For example: Leaving a comment today is one entry. If I write three posts between now and December 4th and you comment on all three, that would be a total of four entries. Good luck to everyone.

For this post what are your thoughts about the election? What would you like to say to Barack Obama? What are your hopes for his administration?
How do you think your life will change? What is your vision for the next few years?
I'd love to know what you think about the election, and the impact on the US. What would you like to know about President Elect Obama from the book?

Monday, November 17, 2008

I Joined IndieBound Today is an organization that has grown to include more and more independent booksellers in communities around the country. IndieBound was formed to raise awareness and help to keep revenue at the local level. Don't you just love to go snooping around the quaint and quiet cozy bookstores that just open their arms and wrap you tight safe, like the feeling a newborn baby gets cuddled close to her mother's chest. I know when I walk into a small independent bookstore, I either know the people working there, the owners or will get to know them very soon. Helpful is not even close to describing my experiences with the small booksellers approach. Call me crazy, but I just really love to shop where service and familiarity are paramount to numbers lining up at the register. I love being called by my first name. Recommendations, holding new releases, personal phone calls about new arrivals are just a few other perks I enjoy. Somehow, having the book wrapped up in a nice bag, maybe a ribbon or sticker, a smile and a thank you with all sincerity make all the difference when that is the last moment you have contact prior to leaving the store. It's so amazing too, I always leave happy and looking forward to visiting again.

What about you? How about joining and help pass the word to keep these remarkable book suppliers among our community by spending your money locally. What would we do without these local shops with that obscure old treasure of a book you've been searching for everywhere tucked among the tall shelves.

This is a copy of the Declaration of IndieBound from their website.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Romance Reading Challenge 2009-List

Here is my tentative and subject to change list. I also have a couple of back-ups listed because my personality won't allow me to pick 5 books.

1.Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry
2.Written on the Body by Jeanette Winterson
3.The Host, by Stephenie Meyer
4.Into the Wildernes by Rosina Lippi
5.Possession: A Romance by A.S. Byatt (1991)

Backup possibilities
+Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
+Lady Chatterley's Lover by D.H. Lawrence
+Stardust by Neil Gaiman
+Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

Romance Reading Challenge 2009

I don't participate in many challenges, however Nadia at The Bookworm has offered a romantic book lover's paradise. This one should be fun.
I will list my books a little while later as I think about the perfect list.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Sunday Salon, Debut Novel, A Thousand Veils

D. J. Murphy is an intoxicating writer who showcases his talent in this debut novel that is part fiction and part true story.

A Thousand Veils
396 pages

After reading the first paragraph of A Thousand Veils, you will come to realize as I did, that this writer has a brilliant gift of creative language and deep emotional feelings. I was unconsciously glued to every word and I was compelled to read the paragraph repeatedly as if in a trance. Often throughout the book, I would stop and find myself rereading sentences, paragraphs so eloquently written, once was just not enough. D. J. Murphy is an intoxicating writer who showcases his talent in this debut novel that is part fiction and part true story.

The book is about a woman he calls Fatima Shihabi who grew up with four brothers, her favorite being Omar. Fatima was educated as were her four brothers a luxury not always presented to woman in her country. Fatima showed an early interest in expressing her thoughts and opinions through poetry. Her brother Omar convinced her that she had a gift to share. With his encouragement Shihabi continued writing.

When she comes of age she is required to don the black veil known in Iraq as the abayah. Fatima resists this the figurative and literal representation of the abayah as by nature she is rebellious and free spirited. The black draped cloak that envelopes the female form is a symbol of Muslim womanhood and When her father describes the black draped cloak enveloping the female form as a symbol of Muslim womanhood and its religious and cultural necessity, Fatima acquiesces. Once she disappears behind the veil she immediately notices the difference in her role as a female in her society. The veil, the abayah, will present many contrasts in her lifetime. It will be hated and loved, confining and liberating, sexually alluring and yet asexual, life altering and life saving. Perhaps this is why the author called his book A Thousand Veils.

Fatima Shihabi writes from her heart and soul about life in Iraq during the rein of Sadam Hussein. She believes she is careful when writing her poetry to remain neutral, but realizes that the middle ground is impossible. Words twisted, intentions misconstrued, a threat to the regime, Fatima becomes a wanted, hunted woman. When ultimately caught she suffers severe inhumane torture, unspeakable experimental interrogation techniques and left near death.

She realizes she must leave Iraq to survive and save her daughter. It is at this time she first decides to remove her abayah (the veil) and escape to Saudi Arabia. When she arrives at the airport she is detained by the Saudi guards and pulled aside. What happens to Fatima will have you nail biting for her safety, weeping for her suffering and praying for her life. Given a talent for intense lyrical poetic communication and the ability to convey meaning through the printed word this petite survivor is up against a tyrant with a tremendous reach. Her story is a true to life adventure.

It has been weeks since I finished this book. I honestly, stopped everything I was doing to read it in one sitting. It is a deeply moving drama with romance and intrigue. I was essentially in a trance and couldn’t break away until I found out what happened to Fatima. D.J. Murphy has written one of the years ten best books on my list for 2008. I have since read over many chapters, and hate to pass this book on to Book Crossings. However, the story was a gift to me and now it is time to gift it to someone else. Keep your eye out for the copy that will be starting out somewhere in Connecticut. Otherwise, buy the book or borrow a copy of A Thousand Veils. You will thank D.J. Murphy a thousand times.

Thank you

My sincere thanks to everyone who has reached out to send hugs and condolences to me. I was touched by so many who sent caring messages either by blog or email. It means so much to me to have such awesome cyber blogger friends. The book A Thousand Veils is so appropriate a tribute to how precious life is. Make each moment count. Best to all....Donna (Wisteria)
I was so touched by all of you. Donna (Wisteria)

Friday, November 14, 2008

That Book Woman by Heather Henson

That Book Woman
by Heather Henson
Illustrated by David Small
40 pages

Heather Henson and David Small collaborate with great success as if they have been a team for years. I thought That Book Woman was an unforgettable historical fiction delight. The author captures the history of FDR’s WPA projects of the 1930s. There was a group known as the Pack Horse Librarians who lived in the Kentucky mountains. These were mostly woman who stepped out of their traditional roles and saddled up to deliver books; becoming a traveling bookmobile on horseback. They were tenacious in their willingness to travel over rough terrain and wild weather to get books to people.

This story is about one such librarian who travels to homes in the rural Appalachian mountains to bring books to people who would otherwise not have any. Lark is a little girl who loves to read. Her brother Cal is the direct opposite and thinks the librarian on horseback is just a bit strange. Week after week she brings books to Lark, but Cal doesn't see the point. Cal respects her tiresome ride and one day his opinion of reading books changes. It is a story you won't want to miss.

Henson makes her writing look simple when in fact it is royally rich on every page. Your senses become acutely aroused with the careful imagery, simile and metaphor. You know exactly what Henson means when she writes “stoney still”, “dusky dark” and “red as clay”.

David Small, an experienced illustrator has won a Caldecott Award for illustrating So You Want to Be President? by Judith St. George and a Caldecott Honor Award. He uses ink, watercolor and pastel chalk to create the subtle soft colorful setting of a quiet slow paced time period, when life was less hurried. He evokes a pastoral image that enhances Henson’s text, each a complement of the other.

To appreciate the charming poetic prose of this book consider this as a read-a-load. Strongly recommended for all libraries as a first choice on their next list.

Friday Fill-Ins

1. Please feel free to give buy me a book anytime.
2. When I receive new books in the library, I love to open each one to a new page. I can't help sniffing it occasionally.
3. My favorite thing to cook is breakfast.
4. Buying new bookshelves for my library is something I can't get enough of.
5. That's the thing I love most about being a book addict.
6. Making stacks of books useful furniture always makes me think to myself, what the heck?
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to reading a new ARC, tomorrow my plans include writing and reading and Sunday, I want to read and take out the garbage!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Sunday Salon, Losing a Friend

Life and death are not far apart, and yesterday my very close friend, lost her husband in what can only be described as too sudden, too young and too unexpected. I spent the day at the hospital with her, until we were told he did not survive. This man was always a special person who watched over me during the depths of my sorrow and bad luck. He was one gentleman of class who taught me to fight the battle. I just wish he had won his. My dear friend, you will be missed.

Please read my posts this week of book reviews, as I will not be able to focus on anything else today. is precious and can be gone in a moments time.

For my friend:
“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

Maya Angelou quotes (American Poet, b.1928)
Now playing: Natasha Bedingfield - Pocketful Of Sunshine
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Drinkwater, by Erik Hopkins

Many of you know I love to read books by debut authors. Here is another one that I know you will really like. I won't be a spoiler, just trust me that you will love his writing. Review below. Highly recommended.

Drinkwater, by Erik Hopkins
232 pages. Crackjaw Publishing

Amber, a young girl of nineteen accompanied by her younger brother Guy have arrived in Toronto. After misfortune changes their lives they arrive in Canada to meet their Uncle Ian, who they will now be living with.

After some time passes, it becomes apparent, Uncle Ian, has shirked his responsibility and forgotten them. Amber tries to reach her uncle by phone with no success. Rather than calling their dutiful case worker Janielle, Amber decides she can handle this situation. With the independence and eagerness of a young owl learning to fly, she takes flight. Without her Uncle’s help, Amber faces the challenge of self sufficiency with a sense of pride and determination.

The story unfolds as Amber settles into her role as caretaker and provider. Hopkins captures the eager essence of Amber’s desire for freedom and independence commonly shared by most teens of her age. Amber faces life on the streets of Toronto with rose colored glasses only to find out they will become shattered lenses. Her relationship with her brother Guy is an interesting story within the story as she drifts further from her original role as his guardian. How will Amber handle the harsh realities of the streets and take care of her brother?

Hopkins builds suspense throughout the novel in the disappearance of Amber’s brother. Amber receives a rude awakening and a true life lesson is realized as the story ends. You will weep for Guy and empathize with the stubborn and spirited Amber. Erik Hopkins leaves us with many questions. Could there be a sequel in the future? This coming of age novel is realistically relevant, unpredictable and heartfelt. An outstanding debut.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Sunday Salon-Presidential Proclamation

Is is really November already? It just doesn't seem possible that the end of the year is approaching. The election is a couple of days off, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and CMTs....LOL! That's for all teachers out there, this writer included. Actually the CMT celebration begins sometime in April at our school. How about you?

November has been set aside by Presidential Proclamation to be celebrated as National American Indian Heritage Month. Therefore, you will notice my PIP has changed to that of a Native family of Utes. At the Library of Congress there is a vast collection of artifacts, images, primary sources and much more, available online. I wanted to share one blog that I read regularly through the RSS feed. The blog is
American Indians in Children's Literaturecreated by Debbie Reese, a professor of American Indian Studies. I will share what she says is her purpose for writing her blog, "The thing is, U.S. schools, from pre-school through college, do a poor job of educating Americans about American Indians. It isn’t a deliberate effort to mis-educate, and there is no point in laying blame on anyone, or feeling guilty if you’re doing something in your classroom or library that is stereotypical. The point is to start doing things differently.

Through my blog, I try to share a lot of information that I think helps my readers understand the diversity that exists across the 500+ federally recognized Native tribes (let alone the 200+ state recognized tribes and the many groups who are completely unrecognized by the state or federal government). I am confident that more and more people are learning how to look critically and let go of problematic books, and instead, select books that present American Indians as we are—not savages and not heroes—but people with good and bad qualities.
Full article is entitled: A Native Blogger in Pursuit of Educating about American Indians from

Have you or your children been mis-educated about American Indians? What stereotypes do you believe still exist?

Studs Terkel(1912-2008)

Before I go, on a sad note, Studs Terkel at age 96 still writing and ready to release another book, passed away. I loved reading his oral histories probably because I love memoirs so much. I'll never forget his book, The Good War. It helped me to gain insight on my parent's generation and with it understanding. Never getting to study WWII in school, this book shed beacons of light on a subject difficult to comprehend. Studs Terkel, ever the historian, brings the war closer to everyone who reads this book.It is a masterpiece. America has lost a giant who has preserved so much of our past through his oral histories. See video below with Jon Stewart(Comedy Central)