Friday, December 31, 2010

Author Events in 2010 and...didn't meet my reading Challenges!

If I can summarize 2010 it would be that I was able to read, discover and follow so many incredible book blogs. I learned so much from so many of you. The wired thing is I do not know yet I feel like I do. I, sometimes, find myself quoting from a blog. How crazy is that?
Also, I was able to continue attending author events at my local, fabulous independent bookstore, Books and Books. Not only that, but I even worked there over the summer. What an experience! I can't think of a better place to have spent my summer. For some reason, I was not able to focus and read as much as I should or wanted to in 2010. I only read a total of 2,654 pages. I did some challenges but did not finish any of them!! I am not proud of this and can only say that what is done is done. Maybe I should pick my books in a way that they not only count once but twice at times...I do know that I want and need to read more! I also, spend too much time reading magazines! What can I do? I am a magazine addict...Oh! And by the way, I got hooked on Law and Order, Special Victims Unit...That took away a lot of my reading time. LOL.
On a positive note, I met and attended awesome author events. At Books and Books: Beth Hoffman, Lisa See, Chris Bohjalian, Frances O'Roark, Kristy Kiernan, Lois Lowry, Cristina Diaz Gonzalez and Rula Jebreal. At the Miami Book Fair: Heidi W. Dorrow, Joanna Smith Rakoff, Susanna Daniel, Sarah Blake, Judith Viorst, Rosemary Wells, just to name a few. Finally, I also attended author events with Spanish authors: Care Santos, Eliacer Cansino and Jordi Sierra i Fabra.
My intention is that 2011 will be a more fruitful reading year for you and also for me. I wish you many wonderful author and books in 2011. I will keep following your blogs and I thank you for stopping by and reading mine.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Dewey's Read-A-Thon/October-2010-THE END

I spent all night cheering not reading. I do not regret it. This time I did not participate in any challenges or read. Last time, I did everything...This time, I took it easy...I am not feeling 100% well and when I am like that everything just seems to take longer. On the other hand, I wanted to reconnect with the blogging community I have missed these last few months. You are amazing! I don't personally know you, it's true. But your blogs always make me think and wonder....Make me pick up books and authors, I would have not thought about...Thanks to all!

Dewey's Read-A-Thon/October-2010

As a reader I failed, as a a cheerleader I excelled....I feel so united to the word reading community...I willpost...Soon...I promise...Now, I must read, read and read...Thank you for igniting my passion for reading once more...

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Dewey's Read-A-Thon/October-2010

It's great to visit so many awesome blogs and meet readers around the world that share the passion for reading. I posted on every one's blog....As a cheerleader...Now I am going to much as I can ...and saviour every written word...because I know there are so many others who like me, treasure every word....thank you! Thanks Helen's Blog for your comment...I am looking forward in keeping up with you!

Dewey's Read-A-Thon/October-2010

I have been reading very little this time but am concentrating all my efforts in cheering all those great reader-bloggers out there. I want to thank the organizers that so selflessly give their time to organize this awesome event for all of us...Keep reading!
If you have been following my blog, I apologize for my long absence...I had technical difficulties as well as other kinds of difficulties not worth mentioning...I am back!!!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Frances O'Roark Dowell-Visit and Books

On the last day before Spring Break, my school hosted well-known and loved author Frances O'Roark Dowell. She talked to our students about the writing process, what inspires her and also about her latest book, Falling In. She was great! She's down-to earth, funny and knew how to speak to the students. The teachers were thrilled to listen to her writing process anecdotes and when she left, most of them were surprised to learn that she was not a teacher. "She's like us. She is SO a teacher!". Now, if you live among teachers, you know that is a very high compliment!
I recalled the first Dowell book I read, Chicken Boy. A book cover that haunted years ago when I read it for the first time. When I was at the book store, the cover just grabbed my attention. You see a boy craddling a chicken, with sad eyes, that seem "to follow you". For some reason it's a cover that I never forgot. And it also has a story that grabs you. So, during Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-Thon, my goal was to read and even reread some of her books.

My favorite is still Chicken Boy. The main character, Tobin McCauley is a character that just wins you over. The story flows so smoothly, you can see the story right in front of you. You will remember your Middle School days and friendships you made. The kind of friends that even if you stop seeing each other for awhile when you meet again, it's like you talked the day before. The grandmother and his best friend Henry are awesome, dimensional characters. Also, I enjoyed the music references with Al Jackson. I don't listen to country music so googled him and listened and saw several of his video on Youtube.
I also read: Phineas L. MacGuire...erupts! and Phineas L. MacGuire...gets slimed! The character made me think a lot about my son, Diego, asking questions and loving Science facts. I feel it's like The Magic School Bus in that it maked Science fun and interesting for children. Children a lot about Science, without even realizing it. It's great! We need more stories and characters like Phineas. A character that is intelligent, out-of-the-box and still COOL.  My only complaint is with the illustrations. I don't know why every time someone writes about a smart kid, the kid has to wear glasses! Why? I think we should break that stereotype.At the end of both books, kids can read instructions on diffrent experiments. I love those! They are easy to follow and do because the materials are things you find in any household.
I was not able to finish Falling In, so what I will do, since it's her latest book is write my thoughts on a separate post -very soon- and also raffle an autographed book...So, keep reading!

Monday, April 12, 2010


The results of Kiki's Bookcation's First GO INDIE! mini-challenge are the following bloggers:

FIRST PLACE : Melissa from One Librarian's Book Reviews. Melissa wants her gift card from King's English, an indie store in Salt Lake City, Utah. I was happy when I  realized that she wanted it from this store because although I have never been there nor do I know Melissa, I met Betsy Burton, founder/owner of the bookstore, a few years back at the Miami Book Fair. She was a part of a panel with Rock Star Librarian, Nancy Pearl. Betsy came to promote her book about the store's history . I have it signed!
SECOND PLACE is Kanaye from Kanaye Speaks. The blogger will receive an email with available titles/authors and will pick 2 books from that list.
THIRD PLACE is Heidikind from Truth, Beauty, Freedom and Books. She will receive an email with a list of books and pick one as well.
Congrats to all the winners! And a BIG thank you to all the readers who stopped by and participated. I am honored in that you took the time to come...And, please keep supporting our INDIE stores...As you can see by the comments, they are indispensable in ALL our communities... It doesn't matter where you live, what they DO MATTERS TO US ALL!

Sunday, April 11, 2010


The winners have been drawn and the list was sent to the staff over at Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-Thon. As soon as they announce the winners in the wrap-up, I will post the winner list on the blog and I will also notify them by email. Thanks soooo much for participating! Now, I'm off to get some coffee and sleep, even if it's jsut a little...

Dewey's Read-a-Thon-Last hour

I am exhausted! I read/cheered and blogged for a total of 22 hours...A lot better than last time. I read more and even cheered more. Although the computer was ultra slow, I sat most of the time at the office/library and read while waiting for the computer to move from one blog to the other. Here's my wrap-up:
1. Which hour was most daunting for you? After 2 am, I got super tired...I tried to be up because my mini-challenge finished at 4 am, but I just couldn't fight it and wanted to give everyone the chance of posting.

2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year? I used
advice from other blogs and they were right! Short stories, young adult are best.
3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year? I think that the mini-challenges are great, awesome and think, at least I could have joined in more if I knew of some beforehand. For example the ones that ask you to do more, and you have to take pictures or video, etc., that I knew about them at the beginning of the day or a day before the event. That way I can least start thinking about it. The thing is that when it's posted, it's either read or post...I don't know just an idea.
4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon? Awesome organizers...Great in the way the cheerleading teams were divided. GO TEAM KEATS!
5. How many books did you read? 3 books and about a 2 chapters of a fourth.
6. What were the names of the books you read? All titles by Frances O'Roark Dowell: Chicken Boy, Phineas L. MacGuire...erupts!, Phineas L. MacGuire...gets slimed and I started her latest one, Falling In.
7. Which book did you enjoy most? Chicken Boy!!!! This was my second time reading it...LOVE IT!!! Love the cover and love the main character, Tobin McCauley.
8. Which did you enjoy least? Not applicable! Each one was different.
9. If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders? I was a cheeleader so I'd like to know how can I improve. I went to all the blogs taht were listed for Team Keats and really enjoyed my time reading and posting...
10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time? YES!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, April 10, 2010


Hello Readers! First of all CONGRATS! Because if you are still up and reading, I know you must be tired I know I am, so thanks for sticking around...This is my first mini-challenge ever and it is titles GO INDIE! I totally support my independent book store, Books and Books, in Coral Gables, Florida. Why? There are always author events during the year, they always support our schools, our students, our teachers...I always have Debra Linn recommending to me or our book club great reads...
Thanks to them, South Florida is a much richer, "sunnier" place... And to top that,  all with a great cup of capuccino, cafe con leche or a Misha cupcake too! (They also serve great food.)
As part of this challenge I want you to name your favorite independent store and why. All posts will be entered in a raffle. First place will be a $15 gift certificate to the INDIE shop of the winner's choice; Second place (2 books) and Third prize (1 book) that winners can pick from a selection I have; some of them are autographed and some are ARC's. GOOD LUCK! ¡BUENA SUERTE!

Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-Thon-Update

I  am so tired by now that I forgot in what hour I should be in...Here's the latest...Oh! And by the way I will be hosting a mini-challenge, GO INDIE! at 11 pm...So stay tuned

1. What are you reading right now? Phineas L. MacGuire...gets slimmed!
2. How many books have you read so far? 2 and a half...
3. Total number of pages:  409 pages...I know, I am a SLOW reader...
4. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon? I hope to finish one more Frances O'Roark Dowell book. All, these will be applied to my OWL, Goodreads and Support Your Public Library Challenges. I will also host a mini-challenge, my first, starting at 11 pm.
5. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those? I tried to ignore them as much as possible.
6. Are you getting tired yet? Yes, I am....
7. Food/snacks: Chester's Flaming Hot Fries...

Dewey's Read-a-Thon-The Lost Entwife Challenge

Lydia at The Lost Entwife blog has an awesome challenge during this hour where she's asking us to name a book and who would we cast for a part, as well as why would we pick that person. Love it!
I read quite recently, Shanghai Girls by Lisa See and would love to see the book made into a movie. I would pick Sandra Oh to play one of the main characters, either Pearl or May. Although, I think she's more of a May. I thought about her because I think she's an awesome and multifacetic actress. I have seen her in Sideways, Under the Tuscan Sun, Grey's Anatomy and no role is small, anything she does, she shines..

Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-Thon-Update-Hour 11

Thanks to al the wonderful organizers at Deweys' Read-a-Thon. You guys ROCK! And my answers...
1. What are you reading right now? Phineas L. MacGuire

2. How many books have you read so far? and a half...
3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon? I hope to finish two more, completing my Frances O'Roark Dowell books. All, these will be applied to my OWL, Goodreads and Support Your Public Library Challenges.
4. Did you have to make any special arrangements to free up your whole day? Yes! I  didn't go to a family function.
5. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those? It was hard but many people knew I was into this, so they respected my time, for example, husband, kids and family.
6. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far? All the people from all over the world who share a common passion...BOOKS! It doesn't cease to amaze me.
7. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year? I think it's great like this.
8. What would you do differently, as a Reader or a Cheerleader, if you were to do this again next year? I need a better computer. I'd love to have a laptop so next time I can go outside and comment while I read...
9. Are you getting tired yet? No, not yet. The coffee is kicking in and if I get tired, I'll just have some Cuban coffee...That will be the solution!
10. Do you have any tips for other Readers or Cheerleaders, something you think is working well for you that others may not have discovered? Have templates and just go with the flow. Reading is a solitary activity, most of the time, and a Read-a-Thon like this is an opportunity to connect with others. Take it!

Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-Thon-Update-Hour 10

I have been reading a bit more. My computer has been ultr slow, even more than me when I read, so I am bit behind on my posts. I have found that I am a slower reader than I thought. Even more so, when I fall in love with the characters all over again. I had read Chicken Boy years ago and now read it once again. I fell in love with Tobin McCauley all over again...
Currently reading: Phineas L. MacGuire...erupts! by Frances Dowell
Books finished: Chicken Boy by Frances Dowell
Pages read: 220 pages
Mini-challenges completed: 2
Other participants I’ve visited: About 5
Snacks/Food: My son and husband brought a Mexican pizza from Taco Bell and now I'm sipping on some Starbucks coffee.

Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-Thon-Update-Hour 7

I had to stop for awhile -mother and housewife duties- but am back on track...I have kept visiting incredible blogs and leaving comments. I was never a cheerleader but I love it! I have been so happy all day, it's great to know that there are so many people out there who share your passion.
Currently reading: Chicken Boy by Frances Dowell
Books finished:  0
Pages read: 124 pages
Mini-challenges completed: 1
Other participants I’ve visited: About 12
Snacks/Food: One Starbucks brownie and 1 soy chai tea latte (with a giftcard, boy it's expensive!)

Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-Thon-Update-Hour 3

Well, I am doing it again! Just like on my last marathon, my first, I get really caught reading blogs and leaving comments. I forget to read my own book and keep reading all those wonderful blogs; the ones I usually follow plus the ones I am discovering. I have read 9 chapters from Chicken Boy, entered a mini-challenge, read blogs and left cheers and comments on many. I am going to have to take an hour off, I am after all a mom! not just a reader and then continue...Love this day!!!

Dewey's Read-a-Thon-Intro Meme

I know I should have done this before but it's like last time, I love the cheerleading so much, I get so caught reading all those fabulous blogs, that I lose track of everything...So, better late than never, right?
Answers to the first meme..
Where are you reading from today? I am between my library-office chair and the couch, with brief coffee stops in the kitchen.
3 facts about me …
1. I had gastric bypass surgery 9 months ago, so I can't snack like I used to, so I am rading more!
2. My mother sent her Yorkie for two weeks to my house, like this was boarding school, and Figaro has been here for the last 4 months...and counting.
3. Love NPR..I can't think of one day in the week that I do not listen to it!
How many books do you have in your TBR pile for the next 24 hours? I have 9 books...But maybe I will change...I should 10, right? A nice, even number...LOL
Do you have any goals for the read-a-thon (i.e. number of books, number of pages, number of hours, or number of comments on blogs)? Not really. Read as much as I can...And cheer as much as I can too!
If you’re a veteran read-a-thoner, Any advice for people doing this for the first time? This is my second time and this time I read other blogs that made book recommendations, like reading YA genre or Middle School books, and I am taking that advice.

Dewey's Read-a-Thon-Miss Remmer's Review Mini-Challenge

A BIG thanks for Miss Remmer's Review for hosting this challenge! Beside being next to my pile of TBR books, I am next to my little yorkie Figaro who is confused because I am not paying him attention and I usually do; I have my colorful throw "Bookwoman" that I bought a few months after I got married 15 years ago. I love it because the artist is Kiki, and Kiki is also my nickname. I am reading Chicken Boy while i move from my library-office, where I have my computer, to the couch and vice-versa...Also, I have NPR in the background, I just have to! I need my Saturday dosage of NPR as much as I need my Dunkin' Donuts coffee served in my Dean and Deluca mug I bought in Georgetown. Inside I am full of happiness, knowing that so many people around the world are doing the same thing am...reading and loving every minute of it!

Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-Thon is almost HERE!

I've been up for an hour and am getting ready to start! I'm so excited. This looks like it will be a "Bokkie" weekend for me. Last night I had my book club meeting to discuss The Girl Who Fell From the Sky by Heidi W. Durrow, which I'll talk very soon about and then attended the book release of Between Friends by  Kristy Kiernan. Today I will be hosting a mini challenge at 11 pm, cheerlead and read for most of today...I have all my books piled up and don't think that I will change, well maybe I will...
1. Chicken Boy, Phinesas L. MacGuire...gets slimed! and Phineas L. Maguire...erupts!- I read Chicken Boy many years ago and want to read it again...and the just released Falling In..All by Frances O'Roark Dowell.
2. The Fabled Fourth Graders of Aesop Elementary by Candace Fleming
3. Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat by Jonathan Bean
4. The Missing: Book 1-Hound by Margaret Peterson Haddix
5. Cubanita by Gaby Triana (She's a Miami native, fellow teacher and I want to re-read it!)
6. My One Hundred Adventures by Polly Horvath
I am having my first Dunkin' Donuts coffee, more coffee on the way and our Yorkie, Figarito as well as my big throw "Bookwoman" will keep me comfy while I read. I will try to post every two hours.
Happy Reading everyone..

Monday, April 5, 2010

Creative Bookmarks by Sarah's Art Journal

In one of my last entries, we celebrated Bookmark Day hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea. In that entry I talked about my unexpected bookmark collection. I forgot to include all the bookmarks my sister has made throughout the years. Sometimes, I tend to give them away since I always think she will replace them and then I realize I don't have any! It was not until later, after I posted, that I realized I had not included the bookmarks Sarah from Sarah's Art Journal has made not only for my personal use but for school events, book club meetings, nonprofit organizations, friends, etc., and just because...She really doesn't have to have a specific reason...And not only because I forgot but also because I think she deserves a solo entry, I want to share with you her unique and inspiring artwork. Everytime I ask her (too many to count!), since we teachers always need something for our students, to design posters or bookmarks, I know we can count with her! The last one she made is for the seven school challenge Battle of the Books that will be held in G.W. Carver Elementary on May 15th 2010. For our last book club meeting she made the one you see here. Her inspiration is author/illustratoer Eric Carle, and her art style or medium is collage. You can also see a bit of illustrator Mary Engelbreit (who she also loves!) and likes to use famous quotes in her artwork.
I wanted to share this with you because I support her in her artistic journey.  These bookmarks are not only the utilitarian use of a bookmark but they mean so much more. These are the bookmarks that mark her journey as an artist. Each one she makes is a confirmation of  her validity as an artist, of getting closer to "making something of herself", like this quote reads. She's also a  consumate reader and  makes them with a passion only book readers like you and I feel...A love for books and the written language that only Book Lovers understand!

The Art of Reading- Home and Away

As I grow as a reader, the more I want to enjoy and learn from different genres of literature. I find it so liberating when you can read just for the pleasure of it, not having to think about exams, grades...or even what other people think.  I have been wanting to get more out my reading and was thinking about taking a college class, but money is tight, so I was looking for other options. Then a few months ago I received the catalog The Great Courses from The Teaching Company and  was amazed at the variety of courses they offer in CD and DVD formats. Immediately, the course titled The Art of Reading caught my attention. This course is a 24 lecture/30 minute course by Professor Timothy Spurgin from Lawrence University. I just started last week and already can tell that by the time I finish, my reading life will have changed. The great thing is that it's like going to a college class, without having to drive, find parking, etc., and then you can do it at your own pace, no exams, either. And a lot cheaper! If you are looking to go further in your reading, I highly recommend it. Some of the themes that are covered are dialogue, adaptation, scenes and summaries, patterns, chapters, as well as many others.
Sarah, from Sarah's Art Journal,  brought to my attention the Reader's Retreat organized by Squam Art Workshops in New Hampshire. I wish I could go! The website says that it's not a bookclub and that it's for people "who honestly believe there simply aren't enough hours in the day to spend nuzzled between the pages of a good book." The picture above shot by photographer Thea Coughlin, has made an impact on me. I wish I had a place like that or could go! Don't you want to go, too?? The retreat takes place from Wednesday, September 1-Sunday, September 5, 2010. It looks like a great opportunity and even though I am not planning on attending, well, things can change...I may win the Lotto over the summer and be able to go...You never know!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Thoughts on How to Save Your Own Life-15 Lessons on Finding Hope in Unexpected Places

I came across this book at the Coral Gables Public Library while my daughter was auditioning at the Coral Gables Youth Center. The author came to Books and Books in Coral Gables not long ago but I was not able to go. I confess that I did not read this author's first book, How Starbucks Saved my Life but also have wanted to read it. Since I was not able to get the first book, I decided just to dive into the second. As I read the book, I couldn't help but wanting or dreaming about my favourite coffee at Starbucks since the references to the store are common. By the way, my favourite is Soy Chai Tea Latte. Did I enjoy the book or would I recommend it? Well, let's say that this book, I believe is not to be read all at once. I think it's the kind of book that is better read in sips, like "hot coffee". The author wants to share the lessons he has learned the hard way; how by losing everything he had, he was able to find the life that was meant for him. The best way is to read the lessons -chapters-, little by little, so you have time in between to think and analyze how it applies to your own life. I agree with the author about how rewarding it is to serve others. It made me think about that quote from Rumi that states: "Be a lamp, a lifeboat or a ladder". I believe we are here to learn from others and to help athem as well. This book is full of lessons to that effect. On the other hand, the book is quite simplistic. It did move me, aup to a point, and you can relate to the author in some ways but then in some many other ways, it really did not speak to me. Perhaps, because I am not part of that privileged class he talks so much about, although my family knows what it is like to lose everything and have to start all over. If you want a light, warm and inspiring read, then this is your book.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Review for Shanghai Girls-Book Club pick for March

In our last book club's meeting in March at Graziano's over breakfast, a group of nine of our 15 member club discussed Lisa See's Shanghai Girls. This recommendation was done by me to the book club because I thought it would be great to meet Lisa at an author event at Books and Books, Bal Harbour and also because it would be a great follow-up to the Hotel on Corner of Bitter and Sweet. Both books have similar themes but written in different viewpoints. One written through the eyes of Henry, a young, later adult, Chinese-American and the other told by Pearl, a Chinese, raised in Shanghai woman, who comes to live to America as a young adult. The part of selecting a book for a book club is not an easy process but I am happy to say that everyone was happy for the selection and felt that the book was perfect for a discussion. After reading several Lisa See books I can tell you that she understands women relationships very well. From the beginning we are introduced to Pearl and May, two sisters who seem to have Shanghai as their oyster and they are the queens of this glamouros city. After reading, you will be driving and asking yourself am I more of a May or a Pearl? But from one day to the next, things change completely and their lives go into a crazy whirlwind.  The core of the story is the relationship of these two sisters yes, and all that entails, the complexities and joys of that relationship. This book was so carefully researched, artfully written to the most single of details, not leaving anything to chance. There are many themes besides the relationship between the sisters, for example, secondary themes such as the Chinese Zodiac  and the role of women, just to name a few. I bought the book when Lisa See came to Books and Books, Coral Gables, hardcover release, where guests got to mingle with her while we ate delicious hummus, cookies and drank punch. My only regret is that I didn't read it sooner. Once I started, I couldn't stop. Ask my kids, my Facebook friends who read my post at 2 am when I finished it. Why, you may ask?  Because this book has the kind of characters that haunt you, you can't stop thinking about, even when you put the book down.
Because you live and suffer with them in their struggles (many) and joys (few along the way). You also learn about the strength of the human spirit. What were the book club results? Well, everyone was unanimous in that the book was worth their time and more. Now, not everyone was in love with the main characters, some of the members thought that one of the men, Sam, was their favourite and would have wanted to know a little bit more about him. I know this book has a lot "hype" around it and that may be a turn off for some readers but don't let that deter you from reading Shanghai Girls, it will move you in a way only Lisa See can.

Thoughts on A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban

A team of Miami-Dade County Public School teachers is organizing the Battle of the Books reading challenge for fifth grade students in seven different schools. All participating students will have to read from a list of seven books and one of them is A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban. Here’s what it says on the jacket flap:

Ten-year-old Zoe Elias has perfect piano dreams. She can practically feel the keys under her flying fingers; she can hear the audience's applause. All she needs is a baby grand so she can start her lessons, and then she'll be well on her way to Carnegie Hall. But when Dad ventures to the music store and ends up with a wheezy organ instead of a piano, Zoe's dreams hit a sour note. Learning the organ versions of old TV theme songs just isn't the same as mastering Beethoven on the piano. And the organ isn't the only part of Zoe's life that's off-kilter, what with Mom constantly at work, Dad afraid to leave the house, and that odd boy, Wheeler Diggs, following her home from school every day. Yet when Zoe enters the annual Perform-O-Rama organ competition, she finds that life is full of surprises—and that perfection may be even better when it's just a little off center.
I can't agree more with this last sentence! While I was reading this book, I couldn't stop thinking about how great it is to discover and sometimes even rediscover authors/books, that are meant for younger kids. When you read these books and you are way past this age (like me!), you enjoy them differently. The characters in this book may all be "imperfect" in the eyes of the reader: Zoey with her many insecurities; her dad's phobias and her mom is a workaholic. But as you read, you can't help to think that they are so right for each other, so perfect as a family. Thea characters and situations make you laugh and when Zoe gets an organ instead of a piano, you really don't feel sorry for her because she has a way to always find the perfect in the imperfect of a situation. The story is so wonderfully written, it grabs you from the first sentence. Also, the author divides the book into many chapters that weave the story even better. My daughter plays the piano and now every time I'll listen to her play, it won't be the same. I haven't read anything else by Lisa Urban and now can't wait to read another one of her books. Have you read anything by Linda Urban? Please let me know if you have, and if so, what book would you recommend?

Monday, March 29, 2010

It's Coming!!!! Dewey's Read-a-Thon

I came across it by mistake, a pure act of serendipity, loved it and I think, well, I know,! that you will too. It's the Spring event of the season for passionate book lovers like you and me. The place to be and the it thing to do. It's Dewey's Read-a-Thon! This event will take place on Saturday, April 10 and it starts at 5 am Pacific Time. Although you can start anytime during the day and read as much or as little as you can. If you want to read the whole 24 hours, it's OK too. If you want to sleep, or maybe you are a "hardcore" bookie and don't want to, it's OK too. You do need to have FUN! This nothing to get stressed about. First you must sing up as a reader to be able to participate and you do not need to have a blog either. Although, having a blog is a BIG plus and the reason I started this blog. You can also sign up for mini challenges, cheerleader, etc. I did the cheerleading last time and had a blast leaving encouraging comments in different blogs I discovered. I learned so much and "met" a lot of interesting peopl i now follow. It was more than I expected. So much more! I realized I found my "niche", people who like me enjoy books and reading as much as I do. And now that you are so excited and I know you are, you can visit the website at and sign up. You won't regret it!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Book Giveaway Winner-Shanghai Girls by Lisa See

¡Hola! Hello! I'm back. I have been under the weather lately and also having problems with my computer. But I'm back now and happy to report that the drawing was held on Friday. The drawing was held by the old-fashioned yet reliable method - little folded, papers in a shoebox... Figarito was a witness to this drawing, so you know I couldn't go wrong. I am happy to say that the first winner of Kiki's Bookcation's Giveaway of Lisa See's Shanghai Girls - autographed by the author at Books and Books, Bal Harbour Shops- is Helen at Helen's Book Blog .What makes this amazing is that Helen became the FIRST follower of this blog and now she is the winner of my FIRST book giveaway. I know Helen only by following her blogs, and have learned a lot about different Young Adult Genre authors thanks to her. She is a Teacher Librarian and by her entries, you can tell she must be an amazing one. So, Helen, I already sent you a message and congrats! And to all my other followers, please keep posted. I continue with my addiction to author events. As a mattter of fact, I had just had one at school last Friday and it was with the author of the just released book, Falling In...I'll tell you all about her, the new book and maybe just maybe, another giveaway...Keep reading...

Monday, March 15, 2010

Bookmark Day!

The Bibliophilic Book Blog is hosting today a Bookmark Day and it couldn't have come in a better time. Just last week, I realized that without even thinking about it, I had started an unexpected bookmark collection. Each one of them came from a special person or moment in my life. There's only one missing in the photo. My father's bookmark which he used as a student in the University of Florida. Let's go down memory lane... The oldest one I bought is the bookworm; a Hallmark bookmark that I used to mark the pages of my Enid Blyton books when I was in Elementary School. The other ones are from trips and gifts...My friend Niurka brought me the red tassel one from Hong Kong; Patty gave me an elegant, classic black and white from Germany; Baldi brought a rug-like one from to Turkey; Kirrin brought me a beaded one from her native South Africa; Bonnie one from Ecuador, which I insist is a bookmark and my daughter says it's a bracelet; Ileana brought me one from Egypt and then there are two from school field trips with my daughter; one from Seville, Spain and the other one from Philadelphia. Then I have (maybe too many!)bookmarks from my favorite independent bookstore, Books and Books in Coral Gables, Fl. Yeah, they are free and don't have to travel very far to get one, but they too have a place in my collection. If you see my Books and Books bookmark, you can read the quote "I cannot sleep unless I am surrounded by books", by Jorge Luis Borges and that my dear blog friends, in a nutshell, describes my Reading Life and me.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Lisa See Book Giveaway!!!

Dear Bloggers: I want to make this easier for you. I am copying my book-friend Helen over at and will do something similar to what she is doing. You do not have to leave a "comment-post". Carla, you will be included! What I will do is that I will include all followers (even if they don't leave a post) as well as others who want to join, just for this give-away and do not want "to follow", those will have to leave a post/comment, so I know who you are, and if you win I can contact you. In other words, I want everyone to have an opportunity to win an autographed copy of Shanghai Girls. Good Luck! Buena Suerte!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Lisa See's Shanghai Girls Book Giveaway!!!

In Lisa See's presentation of Shanghai Girls at Books and Books, Lisa signed a copy of the book for ONE lucky subscriber of Kiki's Bookation. If you would like to participate you must be 18 years or older, live in the United States and be a subscriber of Kiki's Bookcation. Are you excited? Ok! So, please post a comment that answers one of these questions: What is your favourite independent book store? or/and what has been your favourite author book signing and presentation? I am really excited by this! This is my first time doing something like it and I hope it turns out just as great as all the other blogs I like to follow. The drawing will be held on Friday, March 26 2010. Good Luck!

An evening with author Lisa See at Books and Books, Bal Harbour

All day yesterday we had unpredictable weather in Miami...But, something happened. Everything cleared up by evening and the drive to the new Books and Books in Bal Harbour was a breeze. I say a "breeze" because it's really nice when someone else -in this case my sister- is driving. Let's start by saying that I have attended three or four book release-presentations with Lisa See. She doesn't cease to amaze me. Every time, it feels like the first time. Every time I listen to her, I learn something new or think about something I had not thought about before. When I listened to her talk the first time it was about Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. I had a hard time listening to some things. It was hard to hear facts about foot binding and not feel the pain those women suffered. When I realized that See was coming to South Florida, I just knew our book club had to read her new book, Shanghai Girls and that it would be a great follow up to our previous one, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.That's why I insisted (with emails and texts) that our book club go. I knew Lisa See would not disappoint them. And boy did she deliver! She was insightful and gave us a visual picture of Shanghai in the 1930's. She also spoke about family stories, relationships and trips to China. Her mother is her mentor and a writer as well. Her writing work-style is inspired by her her and says that she has to write "a 1,000 words a day". This book she told us was about sisters -by blood- and also sisters of the heart. The turn out was good and the questions from the audience kept the presentation lively and fast paced. I have not read her latest book yet, but three of our members have, and they say they just couldn't put it down. They don't want to ruin it for me, I know, but you should see the look on their faces. I feel like their part of a secret society and they know something I have to know too! See understands emotions and relationships. I have seen it in her previous books and in this one is no different. You can tell she has a unique intuition -and psychology- about families rarely seen in other authors. I was surprised to learn that she has also written mystery books. And, I want to read those too! But to be totally honest, I do not know when because at the turtle pace I am reading, plus everything I want to read,I will have to stop working, and probably just dedicate my life to reading (LOL)! Not that I haven't thought about it...

Sunday, February 28, 2010

February Wrap-Up

This month was not a very reading productive month for me. I guess too many distractions, and by distractions I mean....Magazines! My husband always tells me that I should read less magazines and more books but sometimes, I just can't seem to find a balance between both. I only finished Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet but started reading different Lisa See books. I am looking forward to seeing, once again, author Lisa See at Books and Books. This time she will be at Bal Harbour, on Tuesday, March 2 at 7:30pm. I know March will be a lot better, sort of like ""beware the Ides of March."...The reading winds of Cristina are coming like a Tropical Hurricane and more reading will be done!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Friday's Finest from A Bookful of Thoughts

Friday's Finest is a new meme hosted by Steff & Justine from A Bookful of Thoughts have asked that we share a favourite quote and this one is from Lisa See's Snow Flower and The Secret Fan: "But this diviner saw something in me, and it changed the course of my life". I liked it because how many times you meet someone that teaches you something about yourself that you did not see before in you. Many! Also, many times some ones opinion about another person can really build that person up or the contrary, bring them down. When the protagonist met this diviner, her whole family's opinion of her changed. I am not saying more!

Chris Bohjalian at Books and Books-Secrets of Eden

On Wednesday night I went with my friend Ana to see author Chris Bohjalian at Books and Books, Coral Gables and the release of his new book, Secrets of Eden. The only book I have read by this author is Before You Know Kindness. I read it for my book club but it's not one of my favorites. Regardless of this I wanted to go. By reading my blog, you may already have realized that I trust my friend Ana so I went. One of the great things he shared with us was that the National Endowment of the Arts had a recent published study where it states that reading went up 2 % in 2009; from 48% to 50%. He shared funny stories about his book tour. Also, he talked about his research process. It was fascinating. He says that about every two years he is fascinated about certain subjects he later does research on. Several participants could not stop talking about another one of his books Skeletons of the Feast, a historical fiction book. That book, he told us came from a friend's family diary friend. They raved about it. Also, the participants asked about Midwives. That book was an Oprah Book Club and again, my friend Ana and another person were amazed of how he was able to get into the mind and soul of a woman. It really has me intrigued and well, now I have another two books on my TBR list! I got the book and he was gracious to sign it for me (as you can see in the picture). I am planning to read it ASAP. I don't when...My shelves are over flooding and I always have too many things to read...Sometimes, I feel so overwhelmed about what to read, I don't know where to start. Does this happen to you?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

I confess I have read...

Rachel from Home Girl's Book Blog has just taken over J.Kay's blog( let me tell you she's already doing a great job. She has asked bloggers to write about a book that makes you feel ashamed or embarassed to admit to others that you have read. First of all I can say I enjoyed very much Debbie Macomber's first book in the Blossom Street series...But after that, at least to me, the books have been quite disappointing. The last one I read was Twenty Wishes over the summer and I vowed to myself I was not reading one more...As a matter of fact, as soon as I read them I gave them away...I didn't even want them on my bookshelf! Well, now I am out of the "closet" or maybe the "bookshelf"...I think that is the most or most recent "embarassment" I have had.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

My thoughts on The Help by Kathryn Stockett

My friend Ana was the first person to talk to me about this book. Yes, I had read awesome reviews in my most trusted website, but I had forgotten about it by the time the book was released. As a matter of fact, this book was not even part of our book club pick, but most of us -book club members- had picked it up in one way or the other. What a book! It really blew us away. The characters still linger in my mind, even though I read it a few months back. I am writing this specially for the Amy Einhorn Books Perpetual Challenge at Beth Fish Reads. Thanks to Beth Fish reads, I am more aware of this publisher and want to read the rest of the books. I believe in my heart that this book will become an American classic. There are three main characters: Skeeter, Aibileen and Minny. Each one is defined, each one of them grows as the book progesses. And although it talks about serious matters, it's full of humour as well. I don't want to give much away because I want you to discover it. This book should have DANGER written all over it. Danger in that, when you start, you soon get to a point where you can't put it down...This book will want you to cancel appointments, not answer the phone, not go to work, feed macarroni and cheese out of the box to your children. Their story will change you and the only problem is that once you are done, you have to say goodbye to those incredible characters. Great selection for a book club as well.

Book Club Thoughts on Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

This is our second book for the book club. We have started the year with new members and hopefully we will not lose the momentum of the beginning of the year. Some book club members met Jamie Ford in November 2009 at the Miami Book Fair. The presentation was great but meeting him was like icing on the cake! This book is a love story with the setting of Seattle during World War II. You can say that at times it is a predictable story. Nevertheless you fall in love with the protagonists, Henry and Keiko. Few of us had heard about the internment camps during the war and this book opened for us a world that we had heard very little of. I strongly recommend this book for book clubs. As a member of a club I know how hard it is to pick a book that everyone wants to read and then have interesting themes to discuss. There are many themes this book talks about. Themes that can be used for rich and interesting discussions: National identity, immigration and father-son relationships are just a few. The author does a superb job in presenting the camps without judgment. He allows you, the reader, to analyze, get this sad chapter in American history. One of the most beautiful relationships was between Henry and a jazz musician, Sheldon. You can't help but to feel a kinship for both of them. You learn that a "family" is not where a family physically lives. A family, who you call your family can not be taken away even if they (the government) take you away from your home. Your family is something that no one can take away from you. As the daughter of Cuban immigrant parents, who left Communist Cuba in the early 60's this stroke a chord. My family was separated then to be reunited in Florida. Most members liked the book and all of them said they would recommend it. On the other hand, some where not happy with the ending because they felt it ended abruptly. Overall, this is a book that I will pass on to other friends and colleagues as well. In other words, read it!

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt (read in 1-24-2010)

When you meet the author it just makes it so much sweeter. Doesn't it? I don't know if having met Beth Hoffman made me like the book even before I actually read it. But the truth is I did. When you meet CeeCee her life is in turmoil but as the book progresses you see how the "Book of her Life" unfolds. And I say this in quotation marks because that is one of the many lessons she will learn (and is part of the book). The book is like a garden full of blossoming flower-friends that offer petals of wisdom to CeeCee. At the end, ; you think about your "purple-velvet-sofa kind of girlfriends" (P.112); you want to have friends like the characters in the book and you know you have friends like the eccentric and fabulous women in the book. The most important of the flowers is the blossoming of CeeCee herself who changes from a wallflower, like the flowers her mother sees on the wallpaper -when she has one of her episodes- (p.19) into a blossoming flower ready for anything that comes her way. CeeCee Honeycutt is a beautiful Southern garden where the flowers of her life open CeeCee to what nature and the world holds for her. CeeCee is a book about possibilities, about love, about friendships. I think Beth said cpoined it better than anyone else when she said at the Books and Books presentation that her family was gold but that her girlfriends were the diamonds in her life. I couldn't agree more.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

An evening with author Beth Hoffman

Tonight despite all the organizational challenges I faced, I made it to Books and Books in Coral Gables to listen to Beth Hoffman. She is the author of the much anticipated book Saving CeeCee Honeycutt. I started the book last night and one of the things that hooked me was the first sentence: "Momma left her red satin shoes in the middle of the road". I couldn't stop thinking about why and what had happened for her to do this. As soon as I'm done with the book, I will write my review/comments. What I can tell you is, what a treat to have met Beth! She is so genuine, authentic...How refreshing to meet someone like that. She talked to us about how and why she started writing the book. The events in her life that led her to start writing again. If you would like to read more about her, let me suggest you go to Jaime Layton from Duck's Cottage has a revealing interview with her...Keep you posted! Oh and by the way, if you are also reading the book, please let me know. I would love to exchange some thoughts and ideas with you.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Happy 101 Awards

I'm new at this and just realized that I must now pass on the Happy 101 Award. way too cool!Now it's my turn to talk about 10 things and 10 blogs that make me happy.
Now the 10 things that make me happy can change...
1. Claudia and Diego, my children
2. My work in the International Studies Program
3. Listening to NPR
4. Alfajores...delicious Argentinian cookies!!!
5. Receiving in the mail my magazine suscriptions
6. Splashing Agustin Reyes cologne after I take a bath
7. Having my hair washed at the Beauty Salon
8. Going to author events at Books and Books
9. Organizing my books...and of course, reading!
10. Any hammock in Progreso Beach, Mexico...The best place to read and forget about the world!

These are my "discovered" blogs and I know they will make you happy too. There's only one small problem, you'll get hooked! Believe, I am...
1. Molly at
2. Coffeemuse at Vivere est Cogitare at
3. Alyce at
4. Elizabeth at
5. Liz B. A Chair, A fireplace & A Tea Cozy at
6. Ann and Michael at
7. Melissa at
9. Janet at
10. E.L. Fay at

Happy 101 Award by Helen's Book Blog

I have to share with all you great news. Helen Murdoch at Helen's Book Blog has awarded me the Happy 101 Award. Helen was given the award by MissAttitude at Reading in Color. Helen wrote about 10 things that made her happy and then 10 blogs that made her happy. She picked this blog as one of them and you can see and check out the other blogs that make her smile at Just for you to know, Helen was and is!, my first blog follower. Thanks Helen!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

First 2010 Book Review: Oliver Kitteridge

I have to start off by wishing everyone a fruitful 2010 Reading Year! I'm so happy to have discovered the world of blog-book lover readers around the world. I feel like I have found my niche. I'm also happy to add that my book club has recharged their batteries and has regained the energy we had lost. We met this morning in a deli-restaurant in Coral Gables, Florida and had breakfast to discuss Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout. We thought it was brilliantly written and were amazed of how the author interweaves the main character with everyone else in her small town. The themes that were talked the most, I feel, are the fear of isolation, suicide and "hunger". All the characters are "starving" for something in their lives. As a matter of fact, my favourite quote is what Olive tells her students: "Don't be scared of your hunger. If you're scared of your hunger, you'll just be one more ninny like everyone else." I can tell you that even though it's not one of my all-time favourites, I do think it's worth your time and money! Don't be afraid and pick it up the next time you're in your local independent book store or library.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

New Year Read-A-Thon Update

I have to learn how to balance reading a book with reading blogs about books. I love reading blogs and get so caught up it that I forget to actually read! I finished my books but have spent most of the time reading blogs. If you like Memoirs -and for the last two years,it's one of my favourite genres- you have to read Funny in Farsi and Laughing Without An Accent. You won't stop laughing and it will also warm your heart. If your family moved from another country when you were young, it will specially touch you. I know I should start reading Olive Kitteridge, it's our Book Club pick and have to finish it by next Sunday. So, see you later readers!