Saturday, May 30, 2009

My Two Worlds - A Guest Blog by Jean

As May is coming to a close, we're beginning to wrap things up on Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. I hope you've enjoyed the posts throughout the month. If you haven't already, be sure to click on the picture above to enter the contest for one of the 5 sets of 5 books by Asian American authors. Today we have a guest blog from Jean from Disciplines of Culture sharing what it's like being part of two different worlds.

I love my upbringing and the access to a wide variety of cultures being Taiwanese but born in the United States has afforded me. But I will suffer an identity crisis for the rest of my life.

I was born and raised in the Midwest. But the year before high school, I moved to Taiwan with my family. My parents still live there so when people hear my parents live there they think I moved here recently. I spent 3 years in Taiwan over a decade ago.

I remember this particular incident vividly and it summarizes how I felt in Taiwan. I was out shopping with some friends in a bookstore and I was speaking in English. I noticed this gentleman across the room was looking at his book and then looking back at us. I realized, he had been following us into a few stores.

But then my high school experience was not much more pleasant. I did not fit in with the rest of my classmates. They may have been Taiwanese-American like me but many had lived in Taiwan for so long they didn’t care for American pop culture or anything American but the Ivy Leagues.

I have spent 25 years in the United States and I feel more at home here but every now and then I still get comments like, “Where are you from” and I know they are waiting to hear me name an Asian country. I have Asian students whom I have met that ask me if I am of their ethnicity and they are usually wrong. I’m not Korean or Japanese. And my cousins and friends that are Asian-Americans raised in California don’t see eye to eye with me either. I understand the Midwestern lifestyle and big city diversity than I do a herd of Asians hanging out together.

So I am writing this instead of a post on food to say that I am grateful Deborah is putting all this information out there from different viewpoints to show readers that there are many facets to being Asian. I wouldn’t trade any of it for anything in the world. But for once, I would like to be viewed as me, and not just another Asian. Because we don’t all think alike and that is the number one misconception I have found when talking to strangers or even friends.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Book Review: "Girl Stays in the Picture" by Melissa De La Cruz

If you can't be a mega teen superstar sensation then maybe you'll be lucky enough to join her entourage.

Devon -- one name only, please -- is the latest and jail-bait-est pop star to hit number one on the Billboard chart, and she's making her big-screen debut in Juicy. But after her stint in rehab, the studio isn't so sure she's their girl anymore. If they cut any more of her lines, she'll be a silent film actress! Can Devon regain her star status? She needs to watch her back and make sure that flash doesn't catch her causing a scene, and we don't mean the kind you can yell "Cut!" after.

Livia has lost the weight and gained the attitude in the Hollywood party scene. Her dad's an Oscar-winning producer, and with a hot Beverly Hills boyfriend on her arm as well as her photos all over the pages of Gosizzle.com, Livia looks like she has a perfect life. But looks can be perfectly deceiving....

And there's fresh-faced Casey, who left a job bagging groceries at the Piggly Wiggly to play personal assistant to her best friend...and Devon's rival. She's got the biggest crush on the biggest star of the film -- a hot Brit known for loving and leaving. Will Casey stay true to herself while trying to find a place in his universe?

Stars. They're just like us. But what does that mean for the rest of us? Stay tuned, people.

I was a huge fan of The Au Pairs series, so I was excited to hear that Melissa De La Cruz had a new series out that involved an older cast (non Vampires). This book takes the reader through Hollywood life through 3 different girls - the superstar, the assistant and the family heir. What I enjoyed most was that Devon, Livia and Casey are actually nice people. Yes they enjoy the benefits of having famous connections, being beautiful, and having tons of money to spend as they want. However they have consciences and for the most part think about how their actions affect others before they do something. I thought it was interesting to see the makings of a movie, how different directors and producers can totally change the course of a movie. A leading role can be reduced to cutting room floor material and completely alter the entire storyline. Livia's struggle with gastric bypass surgery is a topic not normally read about in teen books. Casey's life as an assistant to her former best friend is another interesting twist as well. It's quite interesting how the other two, who had been friends for years, immediately accepted her into their group.

To be honest though, I preferred the Secrets of My Hollywood Life series by Jen Calonita over this book. While this book was great at showing the insider's view of Hollywood and a different take from the assistant's point of view, I didn't feel that it was as approachable as the Secrets books. You never really get to know the characters. Casey is VERY naive which at times comes across very unrealistic. I know she's a newbie to the celebrity life but the small town girl facade got annoying after awhile. I was also rather disappointed that the 3 main characters didn't really bond together very much. They proclaim to be great friends but exactly HOW they become friends isn't very developed and they're only together for less than 50 pages at the most.

Still though I enjoyed reading this book. There's hardly any harsh language or cursing at all. Sex is at a minimum. Drug use is non existent and drinking is mentioned but not in binge drinking quantities. Thus it's a refreshing change to read a young adult book about glamorous lifestyle and not include the hard core party scene. The end of the story ends on a cliffhanger, leaving me to look forward to reading the next book. Overall, while not on the same level as The Au Pairs series, still an enjoyable read.

Girl Stays in the Picture by Melissa De La Cruz is published by Simon and Schuster Children (2009)

PBS Documentaries

Our local PBS station has been airing several shows this month about Asian American Pacific month. I'm sad that I somehow missed two very interesting sounding programs:

American Masters: Hollywood Chinese

From the first Chinese-American film produced in 1916 to Ang Lee’s triumphant Brokeback Mountain nine decades later, “Hollywood Chinese” brings together a fascinating group of actors, writers, directors — and iconic film images — to examine how Chinese people have contributed to and been portrayed in an industry that was often ignorant about and dismissive of race.

The Slanted Screen

From silent film star Sessue Hayakawa to Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, this program explores the portrayals of Asian men in American cinema, chronicling the experiences of actors who have had to struggle against ethnic stereotyping and limiting roles. Through a parade of 50 film clips spanning a century, the film presents a critical examination of Hollywood's image-making machine.

I'm really disappointed I missed those shows. Luckily I just discovered that the Slanted Screen is on Netflix!

However I did manage to catch the 6 hour documentary Becoming American: The Chinese Experience. It was a WONDERFUL experience watching it. I missed the first hour sadly, but quickly became enthralled with the other 5 hours. The program starts with the history of Chinese Americans in the US beginning with the Gold Rush immigration. It then moves forward into history with segments on the railroad, the Chinese exclusion act, Angel Island, the Chinese reaction to the Japanese internment, the views of Chinese Americans during the Communist China movement, the Vincent Chin incident, all the way to present day Chinese Americans. Bill Moyers interviewed many Chinese Americans who talked about either their family's struggle to become Americans or their own life story as Asian Americans. It was very moving to hear about how Chinese immigrants struggled in the country and how later generations had to find out their own identity. It was difficult to be both Asian and American. I could really relate with the later generations and their portrayal of having to be a "model minority."

I HIGHLY recommend watching this series. Unfortunately it seems to be out of print to buy new and to buy a used DVD set costs at least $100. So if you can find it at your local library, grab it while it's hot. I really think they should show this documentary in high schools and colleges. Many of these events, I would venture that 75% of the American people have never even heard about. These are stories that need to be told.

Here is a clip from the program:

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Amish Love

What’s all the hubbub about Amish fiction? Major media outlets like Time and ABC Nightline are covering it, and authors like Cindy Woodsmall are making the New York Times bestseller list regularly. What makes these books so interesting?

Check out the recent ABC Nightline piece here (http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/story?id=7676659&page=1) about Cindy and her titles When the Heart Cries, When the Morning Comes, and When the Soul Mends. It’s an intriguing look at Amish culture and the time Cindy has spent with Amish friends.

And don’t forget that Cindy’s new book The Hope of Refuge hits store shelves August 11, and is available for preorder now.


A Trip to Japan: A Guest Blog by Amy.

Another thing that's great about Asian American Month, is learning from people who are Americans who have been able to experience true Asian culture first hand. Today we have a guest blog from Amy from My Friend Amy who talks about her trip to Japan (I've been in the Tokyo airport on a layover to Malaysia)



Moving to Japan wasn't my first choice, but at the time, it was my best choice. I had really wanted to move to France, something that was and has remained impossible for me. So when I arrived in Tokyo in the heat of summer, the humidity thick and my apartment without air conditioning, I did wish it was a different place. And that's how I started my brief stay in Asia.

Add to that, I was suddenly rendered illiterate. Since reading has always come easy to me, I usually get my information through reading. That was no longer an option. I couldn't speak, I couldn't read.

Did I mention it was hot?

I was teaching English, adjusting to life with two Australian roommates and wondering just how quickly a year would go by.

Thankfully, two things happened. One, I started trying the amazing food. And yes the food is really amazing. And two, my roommate gave me Memoirs of a Geisha to read. That book made me fall in love with Japan.

I should be clear. It bore absolutely no resemblance to my life in Japan or modern Japan as I was experiencing it. But it made me care..it made me want to find the heart of such a place in the middle of where I was living, and it made me excited to be there. So books really can change lives!

This isn't what Deborah asked me to talk about, though! Life in Japan was definitely different from life in the United States. For one thing, there's just not as much space and there's still a lot of people. As a result, people are generally more respectful in their living spaces. I miss that everyday here. The food is different...a lot healthier and I tried many things I never thought I would. I was lucky enough to be sort of "adopted" by a Japanese family who made it their mission to show me Japan. They brought me to many tourist spots where I was able to see Japanese temples and shrines of the Buddhist and Shinto religions respectively. They tried to teach me some Japanese and force me out of my comfort zone in public places by actually using it! And they brought me into their home, cooked for me, showered me with gifts, but most importantly their friendship.

Of all my memories of Japan, trying the food, falling in love with karaoke, seeing the many beautiful sites, my best memories are of the people of Japan. Of my adopted family, of my language partner, and my students. The way they opened their hearts to me and patiently put up with me, and yes okay laughed at me, as I a clumsy gaijin (foreigner) tried to get around in their country. Because I cared for them, I still care about Japan when I hear about it in the news. I do love the culture and history of Japan, but I love the reality of its people, too.

Rose House by Tina Ann Forkner


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Rose House

WaterBrook Press (May 5, 2009)

by

Tina Ann Forkner


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Tina Ann Forkner writes contemporary fiction that challenges and inspires. She grew up in Oklahoma and graduated with honors from CSU Sacramento before settling in Wyoming. She lives with her husband, their three bright children and their dog and stays busy serving on the Laramie County Library Foundation Board of Directors. She is the author of Ruby Among Us, her debut novel, and Rose House, which recently released from Waterbrook Press/Random House.



ABOUT THE BOOK


A vivid story of a private grief, a secret painting, and one woman’s search for hope

Still mourning the loss of her family in a tragic accident, Lillian Diamon finds herself drawn back to the Rose House, a quiet cottage where four years earlier she had poured out her anguish among its fragrant blossoms.

She returns to the rolling hills and lush vineyards of the Sonoma Valley in search of something she can’t quite name. But then Lillian stumbles onto an unexpected discovery: displayed in the La Rosaleda Gallery is a painting that captures every detail of her most private moment of misery, from the sorrow etched across her face to the sandals on her feet.

What kind of artist would dare to intrude on such a personal scene, and how did he happen to witness Lillian’s pain? As the mystery surrounding the portrait becomes entangled with the accident that claimed the lives of her husband and children, Lillian is forced to rethink her assumptions about what really happened that day.

A captivating novel rich with detail, Rose House explores how the brushstrokes of pain can illuminate the true beauty of life.

If you would like to read an excerpt from Rose House, go HERE

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Book Review and Giveaway: "Mating Rituals of the North American Wasp" by Lauren Lipton

-------------------Contest Closed----------------------------

I'm giving away 5 brand new copies of today's book! Leave a comment with your email address so I can contact you if you win. I'll
pick a name and announce the winners on Wednesday June 3. US and Canada addresses only (No PO Boxes). Good luck!

PLEASE LEAVE A WAY FOR ME TO CONTACT YOU!!!!

ENTRIES WITHOUT CONTACT INFO WILL NOT BE ENTERED.

After arguing with her live-in boyfriend about his inability to commit, Peggy Adams flies to a friend's bachelorette party in Las Vegas, and wakes up next to a man she can't remember. Hung-over and miserable, she sneaks out of the sleeping man's hotel room and returns home to New York, where her boyfriend apologizes for the fight and gives her a Tiffany box containing a pre-engagement ring. Not what she expected, but close enough! The next day she receives a phone call from the Las Vegas one-night stand, Luke, claiming she's already married to him¬-and he faxes her the license for proof! Both are ready for an annulment, until Peggy arrives in quaint New Nineveh, CT, where Luke cares for his Great Aunt, and the old woman makes Peggy an offer she can't refuse.

This was one of the most enjoyable mainstream chick lit books I've read in a while. The story is engaging, the characters likable, the situation familiar but not cliched. It's one of those books where you know what's going to happen at the end but you still enjoy the ride getting there. I am glad that I was not raised the way Luke had been. There's no way I could stand to live with all those unspoken rules and the expectation of having the feeling that you are better than everyone else. Seriously I just wanted to slap some of those people and knock some sense into them. I was glad that Peggy was able to find friends she could confide in while living in her new setting. These friends accepted her even though they didn't know her true story. Tiffany was a great help to her. The chemistry between Peggy and Luke is wonderful and it's funny how they are legally husband and wife yet all this tension between them spices everything up. I wasn't too big a fan of Peggy's ex boyfriend, personally I thought he was a jerk and should have been dumped long long ago.

My only qualm was that I felt that Peggy's name was totally wrong for her. It is a very old fashioned name and seemed out of place in a chick lit novel. I just didn't think a 30 something would have kept the name Peggy throughout her life, especially if she lived in New York City. Other than that I totally loved this book. For the most part, it's quite a clean book. There's no harsh language or descriptive sex (ironically the sex is between husband and wife) It makes for a a fun read on a lazy Saturday afternoon. Also I'm totally digging Grand Central's 5 Spot chick lit line. I'm going to have go now find every book on their back list and read them!

Mating Rituals of the North American Wasp by Lauren Lipton is published by 5 Spot (2009)

Lauren Lipton is the author of two novels, It's About Your Husband (2006) and Mating Rituals of the North American WASP (2009). She is also a freelance journalist who specializes in style, business and trend stories.

She is currently fashion, beauty and lifestyle editor at ForbesWoman magazine. She has also contributed features on society and media to the New York Times Sunday Styles section. A former Wall Street Journal staff writer, she reported on copycat brides who steal their friends' wedding ideas, pajama parties for grown women, and luxury homes with his-and-hers garages.

Her work also has appeared in Conde Nast Portfolio, In Style Weddings, Martha Stewart Weddings, Best Life, Glamour, Marie Claire, Fit Pregnancy and Working Mother, and on National Public Radio's All Things Considered. She began her career at the Los Angeles Times.

Born in Providence, R.I., Lauren grew up in the North County of San Diego and in Los Gatos, Calif., before moving to Los Angeles. She holds a bachelor's degree in English and anthropology from Occidental College and a master's degree in print journalism from the University of Southern California.

She lives with her family in New York City and in Litchfield County, Conn.


My Story as an Asian American Pt. 2


(this is more of bunch of random thoughts today)



(me and my books at young age, even back then I had TBR piles! btw i swear every Asian kid has that same exact bowl haircut style with the bangs from the age of 1-3)

Growing up Asian American has been difficult at times. I was one of the very few AA kids in my grade, and throughout my entire 13 years in public school, I can remember probably less than 75 kids all together who were Asian. Therefore if you were Asian, you stood out. I would get teased constantly about my eyes, all the way up to middle school. People would come up to me and pull their eyes and go "Chinese, Japanese, Siamese" at me. I seriously do NOT get the point at that. So my eyes are a little bit more squintier than Caucasian eyes. It does not mean I see less than they do. I also was the barometer for being tan in high school. People would hold their arm up to me and compare their skin with mine. There would always be exclamations of "I'm almost as dark as Deborah" or "Yes! I'm darker than Deborah". Did it hurt? Well the tan thing not so much, but there's only so much you can take about the eyes. To this day, it REALLY bugs me. I have told my fiance, I pray to God our kids get his eyes (he's Caucasian) because I do not want them going through what I did. Kids are going to be mean regardless but when kids tease each other because of racial difference, that's just totally uncalled for.

There was this one horrible time in church when I was about 7 and we were singing in children's choir. My family was the only Asian family in the entire church. It was a Southern Baptist church. My sister and I were chosen to sing the song "Jesus Loves the Little Children." If you are unfamiliar with that song, there is a line that goes "Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight." Now why would the little Asian girls get picked to sing the only song that mentions race?


I was a total twinkie in high school school. (Yellow on the outside, white on the inside). To be honest, there would be times when I didn't see myself as Asian, simply because I didn't really have anyone to relate about my culture with. Only until someone make a "ching chong chung" comment would I be brought back to reality. Sometimes I wonder if being Asian might have been why I didn't date a lot in high school. I felt like the guys were totally fine with being friends with me but dating me would have been too "different". They would have stood out. Meanwhile in college, whole different experience where guys WANT to date you BECAUSE you're Asian.

It's expected for an AA to major in two things in college - engineering or premed. I tried out the engineering route. Really. I wanted to be a chemical engineer. Unfortunately that did not work out too well. I'm now a history major. There aren't that many Asians in history. Both in my undergrad and grad courses (so far) I'm the only Asian.
If you've seen The Joy Luck Club, my life was pretty much like that. Model minority was the perfect phrase to describe us. We had to do very well in school. We got grounded for getting B's, if you got an A-, you were lectured as to why you didn't get an A. Straight A's were never rewarded, they were expected. Which was why I totally envied the kids in my class who got money for getting just B's!!!

I wonder sometimes about my ancestors in China. We have no record or names or any idea of who they were. So thanks to my vivid imagination, I like to think they were somehow connected to the imperial family or perhaps warriors like Mulan or even heroes like those in Crouching Tiger. It's also quite funny because my family owns a pug, and pugs used to be the pets of the imperial family. I'll never know...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

My Story as an Asian American Pt. 1

Throughout the month, I've been discussing about the importance, significance and other items that relate to Asian American Heritage Month. For the next few days, I'm going to talk about my own personal experiences about being Asian American.

I get this question all the time "So where are you from?" I reply "Well I live in No. Va now, I grew up in Hampton Roads, but I was born in Roanoke, VA". Their response is "No, I mean where are you REALLY from?" I reply again "um...the US?" The response to that is "No, what is your background, your ancestors?" It's like they're not satisfied until I admit that my family is not from the US. I also have been told I speak really good English. Um...why wouldn't I?


So to satisfy anyone out there who has been asking, my mother is from Malaysia but her family is Chinese. My father is from Burma (Myanmar) and is part of the Chin ethnic group. We call ourselves Burmese-Chinese but I guess technically we are CHIN-ese heh heh. I get asked all the time though if I'm Filipino or Vietnamese. If my picture showed up in one of those "Guess What Asian They Are" quizzes, no one would guess me. I was born in Salem, VA but my parents are both from their respective countries. They immigrated to the US in 1979 and got married in New Mexico before moving to Roanoke, VA. How they met involves a story about pen pals, stamps, and British radio shows, but I have to get permission to tell the story :)


This is a picture of my family and my grandmother in 1991 when we went back to visit Malaysia for the first time. It was the first time my mother had been back to see her mother since she left in 1979. I'm the one on the far left - get a load of those glasses!!!

I have been to Malaysia twice, once when I was 8 again when I was 13. My mother is from East Malaysia: Kuching, Sarawak. ( If you have seen the movie, The Sleeping Dictionary province of China starring Hugh Dancy and Jessica Alba, it is the same location.) My family is originally from the Guangdong and speaks Cantonese. My grandfather went to Malaysia to find work when he was young man, my grandmother followed soon after. My mother grew up with her 2 brothers in a single room atap house. I never got to meet my grandfather, as he died 2 years after my mother left Malaysia. I got to meet my grandmother twice before she died. I have one uncle and aunt who still live there, as well as 3 cousins (+1 goes to school in Sydney, Australia) who work in Malaysia. I would like to go back and visit again, now that I'm older and really go see the city and explore. My mother was a teacher in Malaysia.


A traditional Chin bamboo dance. My father used to do this, and his family used to at reunions all the time. They had the traditional costumes that are shown in the video as well.

I have not had a chance to go back to Burma, and it is unlikely that I will in the near future. Until the government changes, it is unfortunately not a safe place to visit. Even if I went, where my father's village is located, is near impossible to be able to get to. I find this very sad that I cannot see where my ancestors lived. My dad got to go back once about 12 years ago. The area in Chin State where he grew up, a century ago had been visited by British missionaries and converted the area to Christianity. Therefore in that region, everyone was Christians and not Buddhists like most of the country. My father had a big family, about 9 brothers and sisters. Everyone immigrated to US including my grandparents. They are all very successful in the US, with many of them and their children being doctors and engineers. My father got his bachelors degree in engineering in Rangoon, then came to the US and got his masters at Virginia Tech.

Oh and for the record, I don't speak any Asian languages. I could have grown up speaking Cantonese, Chin, Malay, Burmese, etc but since my parents could only communicate to each other in English, that's what we grew up speaking.

The Night Watchman by Mark Mynheir


Ray Quinn is a tough, quick-witted homicide detective in love with his partner, Trisha Willis. She gives Ray something to live for—something to hope in. Until a barrage of bullets leaves Trisha murdered and Ray crippled.

Struggling with his new physical disability and severe depression, Quinn turns to whiskey, scorn, and a job as a night watchman to numb the pain. But when a pastor and dancer are found dead in an apparent murder-suicide, the pastor’s sister approaches Quinn for help.

Reluctantly, Quinn takes the case and is plunged into the perilous Orlando. Soon he discovers that, not only was the pastor murdered, but the case may be linked to his and Trisha’s ambush. Torn between seeking revenge or responsibility, Quinn is thrust into the case of his life.

Author Mark Mynheir gives readers his most profound police thriller to date with The Night Watchman (first book in The Night Watchman Private Detective Agency Series). Readers of all ages will devour this gripping murder mystery that bristles with tension and intrigue. In a taut cop-style all his own, Mynheir delivers an inside look at the thoughts, feelings, fears, and challenges police officers experience while investigating violent crimes and the lost souls who commit them.

A detective with the Criminal Investigations Unit of the Palm Bay Police Department, Mark Mynheir investigates violent crimes and writes riveting Christian fiction. A U.S. Marine with a passion for martial arts and firearms training, Mark has worked on narcotics units, SWAT teams, and myriad high-risk situations. His four novels offer a realistic glimpse into the gritty world of law enforcement and the rarely seen raw emotions behind the badge. Mark lives in Florida with his wife and three children.

Monday, May 25, 2009

A Trip to Korea: A Guest Blog from Shannan

Another thing that's great about Asian American Month, is learning from people who are Americans who have been able to experience true Asian culture first hand. Today we have a guest blog from Shannan from Shannan Loves Books who talks about her trip to South Korea (I've never been before, so jealous!)

My trip to Korea started with a 16 hr trip form Atlanta to Incheon. After arriving at the airport my husband met me and we took a bus back to Tonducheon, where he was staying. Tonducheon was quite different from what I was accustomed too in the states. As we pulled up to the gate at Camp Casey I got my first experience of being in a foreign country as the security guards came to the car and started checking ID cards all the while speaking Hongul (Korean).

After getting on post my husband took me to his quarters and there I saw how he had been living for the previous six months. I expected worse but it wasn't that bad being that he had TV, Fridge, stove and bathroom. The first night I was so tired so hubby let me sleep to get over my jet lag. the next morning I was ready to see what the country had to offer.

We took a 2 hour bus trip down to Seoul and checked in at the Dragon Hill Hotel in Youngsan. It was a 3 or 4 star hotel. It was gorgeous. It had marble floors and the lobby was very inviting. There were spas, coffee shops and salons as well as slot machines for gambling. All the while we were sightseeing inside the hotel and snow was falling outside the hotel. We decided to brave the snow so we took a cab to Etaewon and shopped a little.





I have visited New York City before but the the abundance of street vendors was a sight like I have never seen or experienced before. They had anything you could think of, they had Guccis, Polos, Louis Vitton, Sean John and many more. It was like Christmas was still here even though it had passed a week ago.

The Koreans are a friendly people with different social customs from that of an American. For instance it is polite to smile in Korea but in the United States its considered rude. It is normal to see women hold hand without anyone thinking they are lesbian because that is not encouraged there. The way of life is totally different as the average Korean lives over the shop where they work. These workers do not own their shop and work to be able to live in the shop as a form of payment. The nightlife is similar to that of western society. The people seemed really interested in hearing and talking about English. My husband and I received a traditional Korean massage. I felt very safe in Korea. Safer than I have ever felt in the United States .

As we continued to walk around you could see a lot of American culture with Outback Pizza Hut , BK, KFC, and Fridays. My choice for food was to taste something different so we decided to visit the seoul tower. The Seoul tower is reminiscent of the Seattle Space needle as it is a spinning needle with stores and restaurants. We arrived by cab which is an experience in an of its self. Lets just say it was like a roller coaster. After that we took a sky cab which can be described as a cable car, up to the top of the hill, . Once we made it all the way up there were gift shops and a sundry of places to eat. Our group chose the rotating one at the very top.

http://www.math.u-bordeaux1.fr/~colin/web/place.html
My last week there we celebrated New Years. It was one of the most fun New Years memories I have ever had. There were 4 different rooms with for different music styles to suit everyone. They had Top 40, Country,Latin and Hip Hop. They had endless amount of free food and spirits. I did not take picture of this because well because lets just say I was a little tipsy (LOL). We had champagne at the stroke of midnight to ring in the New Year.

Overall, I enjoyed my trip to Korea and would love to visit again. I wish I could put actual pictures of my trip but it was before the digital camera era. With my husband being in the military the chances are highly likely.

Jillian Dare by Melanie Jeschke


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Jillian Dare: A Novel

Revell (May 1, 2009)

by

Melanie M. Jeschke



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Melanie Morey Jeschke (pronounced jes-key), a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, grew up in Richmond, Virginia, and graduated from University of Virginia as a Phi Beta Kappa with an Honors degree in English Literature and a minor in European and English History.

A free-lance travel writer, Melanie contributed the Oxford chapter to the Rick Steves’ England 2006 guidebook. She is a member of the Capital Christian Writers and Christian Fiction Writers as well as three book clubs, and taught high-school English before home-schooling most of her nine children. Melanie lectures on Lewis and Tolkien, Oxford, and writing, and gives inspirational talks to all manner of groups, including university classes, women’s clubs, young professionals, teens, and school children.

A fourth generation pastor’s wife (her father Dr. Earl Morey is a retired Presbyterian minister), Melanie resides in the Greater Washington, D.C. area with her children and husband Bill Jeschke, a soccer coach and the Senior Pastor of The King’s Chapel, an non-denominational Christian church in Fairfax, Virginia.



ABOUT THE BOOK

Jillian Dare leaves her Shenandoah Valley foster home behind and strikes out on her own as a nanny at a large country estate in northern Virginia. She is delighted with the beauty of her new home, the affection of her young charge Cadence Remington, and the opportunity for frequent travel to the Remington castle in England.

She is less certain about her feelings for her handsome but moody employer, Ethan. In spite of herself, Jillian realizes she is falling for her boss. But how can a humble girl ever hope to win a wealthy man of the world? And what dark secrets from the past is he hiding? This contemporary story, inspired by the well-loved classic Jane Eyre, will capture readers' hearts.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Jillian Dare: A Novel, go HERE

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Audiobook Review: "Dewey: The Small Town Library Cat Who Touched the World" Audiobook

How much of an impact can an animal have? How many lives can one cat touch? How is it possible for an abandoned kitten to transform a small library, save a classic American town, and eventually become famous around the world? You can't even begin to answer those questions until you hear the charming story of Dewey Readmore Books, the beloved library cat of Spencer, Iowa.

Dewey's story starts in the worst possible way. Only a few weeks old, on the coldest night of the year, he was stuffed into the returned book slot at the Spencer Public Library. He was found the next morning by library director, Vicki Myron, a single mother who had survived the loss of her family farm, a breast cancer scare, and an alcoholic husband. Dewey won her heart, and the hearts of the staff, by pulling himself up and hobbling on frostbitten feet to nudge each of them in a gesture of thanks and love. For the next nineteen years, he never stopped charming the people of Spencer with his enthusiasm, warmth, humility, (for a cat) and, above all, his sixth sense about who needed him most.

As his fame grew from town to town, then state to state, and finally, amazingly, worldwide, Dewey became more than just a friend; he became a source of pride for an extraordinary Heartland farming town pulling its way slowly back from the greatest crisis in its long history.

I'm not a cat person. I love dogs (especially pugs!). I've never been a cat person my entire life. My fiance has a cat, and while I can stand her, honestly I would much rather prefer another dog. However after listening to this audio book, I would have liked to have met this cat, Dewey Readmore Books. On a recent road trip, my fiance and I listened to this book on CD and thoroughly enjoyed it. It quickly became a must listen for both of us. With fiance being a cat person and me being a library person, this story had the best of both worlds. We enjoyed hearing about Dewey's life and how he touched not only the author and the town, but the entire world as well. Fiance even cried at the end of the story. It was a good thing I was the one driving! My only qualm was that it was an abridged book which is apparently the only version the audio book comes in. While the story flowed very easily, I wonder what we had missed by not actually reading the book. That being said, we were very impressed with Dewey's story and we both wish we had been able to have met him. If you are looking for a good book to listen to on at trip this summer, be sure to grab this CD.


Dewey: The Small Town Library Cat Audio CD is published by Hachette Audio (2008)

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Faith 'n Fiction Saturday



My Friend Amy, who brought us Book Blogger Appreciation Week has a new carnival in the works, the Faith 'n Fiction Saturday.

Each week she will post a blogging prompt, which participating bloggers will answer on their own blogs. Then they head back to the original post and sign Mister Linky! This way we can all come to know each other more closely.

Today's Question: A lot of us are reviewers which means we consume books at a rate that blows the minds of others. As a result, we might start seeing the same thing over. and over. and over.

What are some cliched phrases or plot devices in Christian fiction that you'd like to see go?

Maybe it's because I'm a history major but I've noticed A LOT of cliched storylines used in Christian historical fiction. Just things that while they may be enjoyable to read, they weren't exactly true. I could name several authors that use the EXACT same plot in their stories, they just change the setting and the characters.
  • people ALWAYS have to sit in the front row during church
  • no one can never marry a full blooded Native American, they are always already half white, and with blue/violet/green eyes
  • Asian Americans are always adopted
  • people always kiss, back away and murmur "i shouldn't have done that"
  • why is on the west, if a woman is pregnant she always has a breech birth, ALWAYS!!! and then the doctor gets there late
  • American Indians do not always speak in halting English
  • Slave owners in CF are always portrayed as a) evil and mean or b) Christians who can't give up slavery and they want to free their slaves but they can't
  • Overzealous new Christians who become extremely preachy, tear out chapters from pages of the Bible, spout off Bible verses that are NOT relevant and tell everyone they meet they are going to hell
  • Characters who are given the names like Hallelujah, Revelation or some cliched weird Christian name
  • This is more of trait in a bunch of books but i REALLY hate it when the female character tries to stand up for herself to the guy, and all he does is just laugh at her and they end up falling in love and he's still dominating her. but i read this all the time in Christian romances. Why do we want a guy who laughs AT you for standing up for yourself?
  • I totally agree with Amy on this one: Sermons in books where the character goes to church and the sermon just happens to relate directly to them. Now this would be interesting if the sermon happened to be about finances or relationships or child rearing. But no, it's always about forgiveness, or wolves in sheep's clothing. same old, same old!!!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Asian Food - Nom nom nom

Today I'm just focusing on some of my favorite Asian food. No commentary needed. Just enjoy.











Deceptive Promises by Amber Miller


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Deceptive Promises

Barbour Publishing, Inc (2008)

by

Amber Miller



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Hi, I'm Amber, but my friends call me Tiff, short for Tiffany, my first name. I am in my 30's, married the love of my life in July 2007, live in Colorado and just had an incredibly beautiful daughter named Victoria.

I love to travel and visit new places. Ultimately, my dream is to own horses and live in a one-level rancher or log cabin nestled in the foothills of the mountains. For now, I will remain where I am and do what I love—design web sites and write.

I got involved with web design in 1997, when I was asked to take over running the official web site for the television series Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. That eventually led to a series of negotiations where I was offered the job of running world-renowned actress Jane Seymour's official fan site. That has branched into doing web sites for a variety of clients, including: authors J.M. Hochstetler, Trish Perry, Kathy Pride, Louise M. Gouge, Susan Page Davis, and Jill Elizabeth Nelson, actor William Shockley (the voice of AT&T and Toyota) and many others. With the help of a handful of other web site "technos," Eagle Designs was born! Feel free to visit and see our other clients.

Amber's very first book, Promises, Promises, released in February 2008. It's a historical fiction set in Delaware during the Colonial period and the Great Awakening. The other 2 books in the series are Quills And Promises (July 2008) and this one, Deceptive Promises (December 2008). In 2009, they will be repackaged for a state set entitled Liberty's Promise. She has also sold another series set in historical Michigan during the Industrial Revolution. The 3 books in that series will begin releasing in May 2009 and will be repackaged in 2010.


ABOUT THE BOOK

MARGRET WANTS TO BELIEVE SAMUEL'S PROMISES.

Is deception fair in wartime Margret Scott must deal with this question as she finds herself attracte to the enigmatic Samuel Lowe. As the tensions grow between the colonists and the British soldiers and loyalists, Margret cannot always tell where Samuel's loyalties lie.



"If I have walked with vanity, or if my foot hath hasted to deceit; Let me be weighed in an even balance that God may know mine integrity." -Job 31:5-6


Samuel's duties have him working for both sides of this war, and he often finds himself torn between what is right and what is wrong. He promises Margret she can trust him, and Margret promises him she does. But can promises born in deception be trusted? Can a relationship built in uncertainty survive?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Deceptive Promises, go HERE.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Blog Talk Radio Show



If anyone is a fan of authors Anne Dayton & May Vanderbilt (co-authors for Christian chick lit and YA) and Shelley Adina (Christian YA) tomorrow Faithwords is having a BlogTalk Radio show where you can call in and ask them questions. You'll be able to listen to interview live tomorrow starting at 12 online: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/FaithWords/2009/05/22/Live-interview-with-Christian-YA-Authors-Shelley-Adina-Anne-Dayton-May-Vanderbilt

I plan on calling in!