Don’t Forget the Soap Blog Tour: Excerpt + Giveaway

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So I’m back, after a stressful two weeks. I promise to catch up on some reviews, but for now, let’s do some promotional blog tour stuff. Today on the blog is a new nonfiction collection of stories from Marie Claire Lim Moore, Don’t Forget the Soap. First off, I love the title. Second, the blurb reminds me a bit of Tweet Sering’s Astigirl, but you know, for moms. And perhaps for daughters, too? Hm, sounds interesting.

About the Book:

Don't Forget the Soap Book CoverAt the center of many good stories – inspiring, entertaining, admittedly corny – is Marie Claire Lim Moore. Ask her about the time she and her family sat down with former Philippine President Corazon Aquino. Or the time she built houses in Mexico alongside former American President Jimmy Carter. Equally engaging are her every day experiences and perspective on life. You will be interested to hear what she thinks is a relationship “deal breaker” or why Christmas should be regulated or why kids shouldn’t say, “I’m bored.”

Don’t Forget the Soap is a collection of anecdotes from different points in Claire’s life: stories from the tight-knit Filipino community in Vancouver mix with memories of her move to New York, experiences at Yale and travels as a young executive. Underlying this narrative is the story of a global citizen who does not want to forget the fundamental values that come along with the “immigrant experience” as she and her husband raise their children in the increasingly glitzy expat bubble of Singapore. Her parents continue to remain a big influence in her life and her mother’s reminders a grounding force. These stories will warm the heart and resonate with people of any culture.

Goodreads | Ebook | Paperback

Excerpt:

My parents were extremely supportive of my pursuing opportunities in different parts of the world (not exactly conducive to settling down), and they didn’t bat an eyelid when my long-term relationship (on path to marriage) ended abruptly just as so many of their friends’ children were walking down the aisle. People would comment, “You must be feeling some pressure from your parents to meet someone.” No, actually, I wasn’t.

Not until the year I turned 30 and met Alex did my mother make any comment in this regard. It was after I finished my assignment in the Philippines and was deciding whether to go back to Brazil, stay on in the Philippines or return to New York. Most of my colleagues in the program continued working abroad (it was considered the faster path to running a business since many of these roles were in emerging markets where one had the opportunity to take on a relatively big job, the equivalent of which would not be available in global headquarters).

“At this point in your life it’s OK to let a ‘friend’ factor into your decision,” she would say. (My parents never used the term “boyfriend.” It could be a “close” friend or a “special” friend but in their minds nothing was official until marriage, so why give anything in between a title.) She continued, “You’ve put a lot of focus on your career, which is great, so now you can balance it by putting some attention on other important things.” After our assignments had finished in Brazil, Alex went back to New York and I went to the Philippines. We left more as friends than anything else but soon found ourselves staying in close touch while on opposite sides of the globe. We spoke at least two times a day despite the time difference, and he even came out to see me in Manila. I decided to take a job back in New York and see where the relationship could go.

About the Author:

marie claire lim moore - author photoMarie Claire Lim Moore is a Filipina-Canadian-American working mother and author of Don’t Forget the Soap. After spending the early part of her childhood in Vancouver, Claire moved to New York City and attended the United Nations International School. She went on to study at Yale, climb the corporate ladder at Citi and travel around the world. She met her husband, Alex, while working in Sao Paulo, Brazil and they married in Manila, Philippines shortly before moving to Singapore. Now Mom to Carlos and Isabel, Claire also manages the Global Client business for Citi in Asia. She enjoys juggling career and family and likes to throw in community and politics for fun by campaigning for US political candidates, fundraising for organizations that advance the role of women in business and promoting foreign direct investment in the Philippines. She is also a guest contributor at Sassy Mama Singapore. She tweets at @MarieClaireLM.

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Guardians of Tradition (Blog Tour Review + Excerpt + Giveaway)

Guardians of Tradition Blog Tour

Guardians of TraditionGuardians of Tradition: The Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan by Mae Astrid Tobias, Rommel E. Joson (Illustrator), Renato S. Rastrollo
Publisher: Adarna
Number of pages: 32
My copy: print, review copy from author, for the Guardians of Tradition Blog Tour

Who are the indigenous and folk artists of the Philippines? Guardians of Tradition by Mae Astrid Tobias and illustrated by Rommel Joson is full of facts about 11 of the best Philippine master weavers, folk musicians, performing artists, mat weavers and metal smiths whose talents and skills have earned them the title Manlilikha ng Bayan. Designed to help children recognize native Filipino ingenuity and creativity, the book includes fun activities to promote appreciation for culture and arts. Guardians of Tradition has a fun and colorful design that appeals to young readers.

* * *

When I was a kid, I loved watching those early morning educational shows on TV. I thought it was such a genius thing but I felt really bad because they weren’t available in my school. I mean, why can’t we watch it at nine in the morning? They’re educational! So come summer vacation, I end up watching them religiously every morning, over breakfast, before I get asked to do chores. I loved the historical shows the most, more than the science ones, because I loved how they were told and it helped me remember history a little easier than just simply reading it.

Reading Guardians of Tradition: The Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan reminded me of those days when I watched those shows. This book by Mae Astrid Tobias, illustrated by Rommel E. Joson and with photos by Renato S. Rastrollo, is a children’s book about the different indigenous and folk artists of the Philippines. These are people who were awarded by the government the Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan to let the country know about their art. These people are the best weavers, folk musicians, performing artists, mat weavers and metal smiths in the Philippines. The book talks about them, who they are, what they do, and it even includes some fun activities to help the readers appreciate what these people do. The book is narrated by two characters Kiko and Banog, and it is filled with colorful photos and illustrations for not just young but also the old readers.

In a nutshell, I really enjoyed this book. It’s not often I read a children’s book, and this one is a really pretty one. I loved the binding, and the glossy pages. I also love the illustrations and how the two main characters (or tour guides) seem so fun. They make it easier for the books to be read, and it didn’t seem like a simple history/arts/culture book. I honestly haven’t heard of anyone in the book, and it was fun reading about them and what they do. I figure I’ve probably seen some of these pieces, but I never knew the history behind it, and more importantly, the people behind them. There’s also a glossary of terms at the back for review, and a map of the Philippines that points out the locations of the people featured in the book.

I could easily this book as an app, or a TV show, especially since the two characters seem to be drawn for that. I would love to have another volume for this book, because I’m pretty sure there are more than 11 of these people in the country! They truly are guardians of our tradition, and it made me proud to be born and raised in a country with such colorful culture. :)

Rating:

For the duration of the Guardians of Tradition Blog Tour, Guardians of Tradition is available at discounted price at the Adarna showroom in Scout Torillo corner Scout Fernandez Streets, Barangay Sacred Heart, Quezon City 1103 Philippines (Trunkline: (632) 352-6765, Fax: (632) 352-6765 local 125, Email Address: adarnahouse@adarna.com.ph)

For international readers and Filipinos abroad, an ebook version is coming soon. Click here to order paperback copies online.

Here’s an excerpt:

Lang Dulay

Lang Dulay – Photo by Renato S. Rastrollo

Lang Dulay of Lake Sebu, South Cotabato has been weaving t’nalak since she was twelve years old. T’nalak is what the T’boli call the three-colored cloth made from fine abaca fiber. The three colors of the t’nalak represent the three places where the T’boli believe the soul goes when one dies. Hitem (black) is for people who died because of natural causes. Hulo (red) for those who died violently like by a bullet or a blade. Bukay (white) is for those who take taken their lives and those whose deaths were untimely.

The T’boli weavers, like Lang Dulay, get the designs for their t’nalak from their dreams. They believe that when Fu Dalu, the spirit of the abaca, shows them the design in their dreams, they must immediately weave it into cloth or else they might fall ill and soon forget the pattern. Sometimes, the designs are passed on from generation to generation, from grandmother to grandchild. Lang Dulay knows a hundred designs like the bulinglangit (clouds), the bangkiring (hair bangs), and the kabangi (butterfly).

When Lang Dulay became a Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan awardee, she was able to build a traditional long house where she teaches younger women how to weave.

Lang Dulay

Lang Dulay – Photo by Renato S. Rastrollo

Suggested activity:
The T’boli get their ideas for t’nalak designs from their dreams. Dreams are good sources of ideas for stories, poems, and drawings. Why don’t you try to keep a dream journal? Get a small notebook and a pen. Keep it near your bed. Every morning when you wake up, write down or sketch what you remember from your dream the previous night.

About the Author:

Author - Mae Astrid TobiasMAE ASTRID TOBIAS (1979-2009) was a Palanca-award winning author of children’s books. In addition to Guardians of Tradition, her books include Blue Bananas (Crucible), Bayong ng Kuting (Lampara Books), My Forest Friends (Haribon), Bakawan (Adarna Books) and two books retelling the Ifugao traditional chant, hudhud. These are Halikpon: A Retelling of an Ancient Ifugao Chant and Pumbakhayon: An Origin Myth of the Ifugao Hudhud. Both are finalists for children’s literature and best design in the 2006 National Book Awards of the Manila Critics Circle.

She also spent several years in the field of children’s television. She served as the Manila Bureau Manager of Kabataan News Network, a project of UNICEF and Probe Media Foundation that trains young people nationwide how to produce their own broadcast quality documentaries. She also also wrote episodes for children shows like Sirit!, and ABS-CBN and Eskuwela ng Bayan, as well as worked for Philippine Junior Inquirer and Shell Foundation. She was a member of Kuwentista ng mga Tsikiting  (KUTING), an organization of Filipino writers for children.

About the Illustrator:

Illustrator - Rommel JosonROMMEL JOSON is a painter and an illustrator. He graduated magna cum laude and College Valedictorian from the University of Philippines College of Fine Arts. He was also a Merit Scholar and a recipient of the Dean’s Awards for Visual Awards from the Ateneo de Manila University, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management. He worked in the advertising industry for several years before devoting his time fully to painting and illustration. He has received awards and citations for painting, illustration, comics, and design from various organizations such as the Philippine Board of Books for Young People (Honorable Mention), the Shell National Art Competition (3rd Place Oil/Acrylic Category), the Neil Gaiman/Fully Booked Graphic Fiction Competition (3rd Place in the Graphic Fiction category), the Adobo Design Awards (Silver) and the Philippine Araw Awards (Silver in Art Direction) and the Metrobank Art and Design Excellence Competition (Semifinalist in Oil). He is currently an active member of Ang Ilustrador ng Kabataan (Ang INK).

About the Photographer:

RENATO S. RASTROLLO, is a photographer, graphic artist, book and exhibit designer. He earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts major in Advertising from the Philippine Women’s University. With over 25 years of experience in the field of documentary photography, his works have appeared in national and international publications. Presently, he is a culture and arts officer  at the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

Giveaway time! :)

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Playing Hurt Blog Tour – Interview with Holly Schindler

I just realized that I’ve never done any author interviews in this blog ever since I started it. I remember hosting only one interview with Camy Tang back when my book posts were in my personal blog but I never really did any here. I guess I was really just too busy writing reviews that I never really followed through on my plans on interviewing some authors. Oops, my bad.

But let’s change that. Here’s my first author interview in One More Page! Let’s all give a warm welcome to Holly Schindler, author of A Blue So Dark and recently released Playing Hurt, for this leg of the Playing Hurt Philippine Blog Tour! :)

Playing Hurt Philippine Tour1. I find it really interesting that you’d write about a female jock. Were you one back in high school?

Not at all! I’m terribly uncoordinated. I swear, I can fall around corners! Just awful…If
you told me a few years ago that my second book would feature a couple of athletes, I
would have laughed in your face…

2. Basketball is a really huge thing here in the Philippines, even if…well, we’re shorter than other basketball players are. It doesn’t stop us from watching or playing, though! Do you play any sport or would you rather watch? Or both?

I’ve really come to have a much greater appreciation for athletes as I’ve gotten older…I
realize, now, how mental sports are! My brother likes baseball, so I wind up watching
more baseball than anything else…

When I was in graduate school, though, I fondly remember our Lady Bears going to the
Final Four—so exciting…

Playing Hurt3. What was the hardest part in writing PLAYING HURT? How different was it from writing your debut novel?

My debut, A BLUE SO DARK, wrote EXTREMELY quickly—I wrote the first draft,
edited it, and submitted it in just about two months!

I did have to rewrite the book several times. But every rewrite went every bit as quickly.

PLAYING HURT was a slower write…And it changed the most from the original draft to the final published version.

4. What was the last book you finished? Did you like it?

Some of the last books I’ve read (and loved) are: JUMPSTART THE WORLD and THE
NIGHTMARYS. I also really, really love Brian Katcher (cool work, cool guy—met him
last summer at a teen lit festival). And I’m taking the plunge (finally) into THE GIRL
WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO.

5. This may sound totally random, but it’s one thing I must always know: what’s your favorite dessert? :)

I’m a HUGE cheesecake fan.

6. I’m one of the Municipal Liaisons for NaNoWriMo Philippines, so in their behalf, I must ask: any message you can give to the aspiring novelists in the Philippines?

Love Books? Write One!First of all—I just want to give everybody who takes part in NaNoWriMo enormous applause! That’s the most important part of all—just planting yourself in the chair and getting the work done. Everybody’s had an idea that would make an incredible book, but actually getting that idea onto paper is excruciatingly hard work.

…Really, though, the best thing you could ever do is just keep going. One foot in front of the other. The thing about writing is there’s always one struggle after another. First, it’s getting the book on the page. Then, it’s finding an agent. Landing a book deal. Getting through book development, finding a readership, learning what promo methods work, growing a readership, changing genres…There’s absolutely no shortage of struggle in writing. Focus on the small triumphs, celebrate them, and tackle the next struggle with fervor!

* * *

Thanks for dropping by, Holly!

I’m only the second leg in the blog tour — make sure you visit the other blogs participating in the next few days! Thanks to my good friend Kai of Amaterasu Reads for hosting the tour. :)

Playing Hurt

Playing HurtPlaying Hurt by Holly Schindler
Publisher: Flux
Number of pages: 312
My copy: paperback, passed on from the Playing Hurt Philippine Blog Tour

Star basketball player Chelsea “Nitro” Keyes had the promise of a full ride to college — and everyone’s admiration in her hometown. But everything changed senior year, when she took a horrible fall during a game. Now a metal plate holds her together and she feels
like a stranger in her own family.

As a graduation present, Chelsea’s dad springs for a three-week summer “boot camp” program at a northern Minnesota lake resort. There, she’s immediately drawn to her trainer, Clint, a nineteen-year-old ex-hockey player who’s haunted by his own traumatic past. As they grow close, Chelsea is torn between her feelings for Clint and her loyalty to her devoted boyfriend back home. Will an unexpected romance just end up causing Chelsea and Clint more pain—or finally heal their heartbreak?

* * *

When my good friend Kai asked me if I wanted to be a part of the Playing Hurt Philippine Blog Tour, I said yes because she told me that the book for the tour is a contemporary YA novel. It’s no secret that my first love for YA is contemporary, so a chance to read a new one from a highly-praised author is something that I won’t say no to.

In Playing Hurt, Chelsea Keyes is a basketball star in Fair Grove High School, up until her last game when a court accident finally made her hip give way, stopping her from playing the rest of the season. Fearful and broken with the metal plate on her hip in mind, she retreated to herself and her family, only relying on her romantic and supportive boyfriend Gabe to make her happy. That summer, her dad hires Clint, an ex-hockey player with ghosts of his own as Chelsea’s personal trainer for their 3-week vacation. Chelsea and Clint feel an instant connection the moment they see each other. As they grow closer, Chelsea and Clint wrestle with their own demons, wondering if their relationship will just cause more pain or heal their heartaches.

I jumped into Playing Hurt expecting to like it a lot, especially since I don’t think I’ve read about a jock for a heroine. I’ve also always liked recovering stories, especially those that deal with fear and yes, maybe a little romance. That’s the good thing about contemporary YA — it deals with real things, and I was looking forward to seeing how Chelsea’s story turns out. However, reading Playing Hurt enforces my new found belief that one shouldn’t read another contemporary YA novel immediately after reading a Melina Marchetta one. This causes a little bit of high expectations for the next novel I read regardless of the author. For that, I apologize in advance.

The novel started out pretty good, with Chelsea reliving her last game before her accident. I liked the smooth transition from the video to real life where instead of playing, we see Chelsea watching the game and wondering where her life has gone (you can read it in the excerpt here). I liked Brandon, Chelsea’s brother, even if I can’t shake the fact that he’s younger than his age, and not a high school sophomore. I also liked Gabe very much, with his sweetness and his concern for Chelsea especially after her accident. The initial set up was very good, and it made me want to know what will happen next.

However, the novel lost me the moment Chelsea and Clint met. I cringed at how they described each other as “perfection”, and how the air zinged when they were in the mere presence of the other. I’m sorry, I just don’t buy that. Maybe it’s possible, who knows, right? I just don’t really buy it — I want history in my fictional couples. I want banter. I want long conversations that do not involve the one person staring at the other and wondering if their knees “…as pink as the wads of cotton candy…” are just as sweet. Sorry, I can’t help but roll my eyes at that. I want the whole shebang — the getting to know stage, the simmering attraction that would eventually lead to the swoon-worthy, tingle-inducing scenes that would make me sigh and doodle hearts in every available space. I think this preference is obvious based on my track record for contemporary novels that I love.

I also wished that Chelsea’s other relationships had more resolution, especially for her father. I thought there was too much focus on the relationship that the other issues weren’t really tackled. I wished there was more conflict between Chelsea, Clint and Gabe, and that Chelsea and her dad had a longer and more heartfelt conversation. I felt kind of bad for the minor characters, particularly Kenzie, whose stories weren’t really explored because of the focus on Clint and Chelsea. It somehow made the main characters come off as selfish, wanting only what they want and nothing else.

I don’t really think Playing Hurt is a bad novel. I’m a minority among those who loved this book — it’s just okay with me. This novel may just not be up my alley, you know? That, and like what I mentioned up there, reading this after a Marchetta novel (especially something as lovely as Jellicoe Road!) tends to up my expectations. I knew I should have read another genre first before jumping into this one! I’m still open to reading Holly Schindler’s other books.

Rating:

Watch out tomorrow for an interview with Holly Schindler as part of the blog tour! Thanks to Kai of Amaterasu Reads for hosting this tour!

Other reviews:
Amaterasu Reads
Shut Up! I’m Reading
Irresistible Reads