Friday, August 11, 2017

The Lucky Ones by Julianne Pachico

While her parents are away, a teenager finds herself home alone, with the household staff mysteriously gone, no phone connection, and news of an insurgency on the radio—and then she hears a knock at the door. Her teacher, who has been kidnapped by guerrillas, recites Shakespeare in the jungle to a class of sticks, leaves, and stones while his captors watch his every move. Another classmate, who has fled Colombia for the clubs of New York, is unable to forget the life she left behind without the help of the little bags of powder she carries with her. Taking place over two decades, 

The Lucky Ones presents us with a world in which perpetrators are indistinguishable from saviors, the truth is elusive, and loved ones can disappear without a trace.

A prismatic tale of a group of characters who emerge and recede throughout the novel and touch one another’s lives in ways even they cannot comprehend, The Lucky Ones captures the intensity of life in Colombia as paramilitaries, guerrillas, and drug traffickers tear the country apart. Combining vivid descriptions of life under siege with a hallucinatory feel that befits its violent world, The Lucky Ones introduces a truly original and exciting new voice in fiction.

Julianne Pachico grew up in Cali, Colombia, and lived there until she was eighteen. She is currently completing a Ph.D. in creative writing at the University of East Anglia in England. Her story “Honey Bunny” appeared in The New Yorker, and two of her stories have been anthologized in Best British Short Stories 2015.

Friday, August 04, 2017

The Book of Emma Reyes by Emma Reyes

This astonishing memoir was hailed as an instant classic when first published in Colombia in 2012, nearly a decade after the death of its author, who was encouraged in her writing by Gabriel García Márquez. Comprised of letters written over the course of thirty years, and translated and introduced by acclaimed writer Daniel Alarcón, it describes in vivid, painterly detail the remarkable courage and limitless imagination of a young girl growing up with nothing.

Emma Reyes was an illegitimate child, raised in a windowless room in Bogotá with no water or toilet and only ingenuity to keep her and her sister alive. Abandoned by their mother, she and her sister moved to a Catholic convent housing 150 orphan girls, where they washed pots, ironed and mended laundry, scrubbed floors, cleaned bathrooms, sewed garments and decorative cloths for the nuns—and lived in fear of the Devil. Illiterate and knowing nothing of the outside world, Emma escaped at age nineteen, eventually establishing a career as an artist and befriending the likes of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera as well as European artists and intellectuals. The portrait of her childhood that emerges from this clear-eyed account inspires awe at the stunning early life of a gifted writer whose talent remained hidden for far too long.

Emma Reyes (1919–2003) was a Colombian painter and intellectual. Born in Bogotá, she also lived in Buenos Aires, Montevideo, Jerusalem, Washington, and Rome before settling in Paris. She dedicated most of her life to painting and drawing, slowly breaking through as an artist and forging friendships with some of the most distinguished European and Latin American artists, writers, and intellectuals of the twentieth century, among them Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Pier Paolo Pasolini. The year she passed away, the French government named her a Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Did Goya Go Organic?

After over a decade of hoping that some of my beloved food brands would offer better for you, low sodium and organic options of their products, I was really excited - like way too thrilled, to be honest - to discover that Goya has started offering both options on their canned beans products.

On a recent grocery shopping trip, I was looking for canned beans to puree for my infant son and found these:


How awesome! 

Now I can truly nourish my son, nutritionally and culturally. 

Thank you for listening to us, Goya!

Friday, April 28, 2017

#FridayReads: The Leavers by Lisa Ko

The Leavers by Lisa Ko 

Book description:

“The Leavers is courageous, sensitive, and perfectly of this moment.” —Barbara Kingsolver 

 An emotionally harrowing debut novel that explores assimilation and loss, immigration and homeland, independence and connection. 

One morning, Deming Guo’s mother, an undocumented Chinese immigrant named Polly, goes to her job at the nail salon and never comes home. No one can find any trace of her. With his mother gone, eleven-year-old Deming is left with no one to care for him. He is eventually adopted by two white college professors who move him from the Bronx to a small town upstate. They rename him Daniel Wilkinson in their efforts to make him over into their version of an “all-American boy.” But far away from all he’s ever known, Daniel struggles to reconcile his new life with his mother’s disappearance and the memories of the family and community he left behind.

Set in New York and China, The Leavers is a vivid and moving examination of borders and belonging. It’s the story of how one boy comes into his own when everything he’s loved has been taken away--and how a mother learns to live with the mistakes of her past.

This powerful debut is the winner of the 2016 PEN/Bellwether Prize for fiction, awarded by Barbara Kingsolver for a novel that addresses issues of social justice.

 About the Author 

Lisa Ko’s fiction has appeared in Best American Short Stories 2016, Narrative, Copper Nickel, the Asian Pacific American Journal, and elsewhere. She has been awarded fellowships and residencies from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the MacDowell Colony, the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Writers OMI at Ledig House, the Jerome Foundation, and Blue Mountain Center, among others. A founding coeditor of Hyphen and a fiction editor at Drunken Boat, Ko was born in Queens and lives in Brooklyn.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Library Apps for Book Lovers

Slowly, over the past decade, I have come over to the dark side and became a reader of eBooks. It happened slowly but it surely happened. I think it's more a convenience and practical thing for in my heart of hearts, I still dream of bookshelves and cozy reading nooks where I can inhale the warm woody, vanilla-ish scent of book leaves turning brittle over time.



While on maternity leave last year, I started reading again and discovered that somehow I had never looked into borrowing books online. I was baffled by how I had never thought to do this before but I am ecstatic at how much easier some of these apps have made keeping myself on track to read every day:

 OverDrive Media Console


Hands down, this is The top free app! It allows you to access libraries worldwide, check out audiobooks, eBooks, stream films and request books. All you need is a valid library card. It does have a few kinks but it does the job effectively.

Kindle

I use my Kindle app in conjuction with most of reading apps like OverDrive to customize my reading experience. In addition as an Amazon Prime member with Kindle Unlimited, I have access to troves of books and free magazines as well.

Bluefire Reader 

Because sometimes I review unpublished ebooks, I need an app that can support these formats. Bluefire helps make this easier too.

Do you use any of these?

Friday, February 17, 2017

#FridayReads: Things We Lost in the Fire: Stories by Mariana Enriquez

Things We Lost in the Fire: Stories by Mariana Enriquez 

Book description:

 An arresting collection of short stories, reminiscent of Shirley Jackson and Julio Cortazar, by an exciting new international talent.

 About the Author

Mariana Enriquez is a writer and editor based in Buenos Aires, where she contributes to a number of newspapers and literary journals, both fiction and nonfiction.
 
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