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Review: Mambo in Chinatown

October 23, 2014

Mambo in Chinatown

Charlie is an obedient American-born Chinese daughter living with her widowed father and younger sister.  She’s not happy with her job as a dishwasher but accepts it as her fate.  When she finds a job as a receptionist in a dance studio, she has to keep it secret from her father, but it causes her world to open up.

A witch doctor tells her “what one sister gains, shall the other lose,” and that seems to be happening.  As Charlie blossoms in her new job, her sister starts suffering from an undiagnosed illness.  Charlie’s father wants her treated the old world way while Charlie fights for treatment at the hands of Western doctors.   Charlie has to figure out a way to mesh the two worlds so her sister can get the best treatment.

Mambo in Chinatown by Jean Kwok is a wonderful story about the difficulties of blending two worlds.  Charlie is a great character who wants to please her father but also wants to be a modern girl.  She keeps part of her life hidden from him because she knows he won’t approve.  She decides she has to challenge his authority, though, when she realizes her sister’s health is at risk.

I was engrossed in Charlie’s story from the start.  I’ve always been fascinated by the stories of first generation Americans – maybe because my mother is one – and this one did not disappoint.  I did have one minor quibble having to do with Charlie’s job at the dance studio but it didn’t hamper my enjoyment of the book.

The audio version of Mambo in Chinatown is narrated by Angela Lin.  She does a terrific job, particularly with accents, reading this 13 hour audio book.

Review copy provided by Penguin Books.  I am an Indiebound Affiliate.


Wondrous Words Wednesday

October 22, 2014

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme where you can share new words that you’ve encountered or spotlight words you love.  Feel free to get creative!   If you want to play along, grab the button, write a post and come back and add your link to Mr. Linky!

I found a couple words in The Lost Book of Mormon by Avi Steinberg.

1. craven – “‘We need you to take a more craven, conquered attitude.”

Craven means defeated or vanquished.


2. koan – “This struck me as a wise philosophy of life, a kind of koan.”

Koan is a paradox to be meditated upon that is used to train Zen Buddhists monks to abandon ultimate dependence on reason and to force them into gaining sudden intuitive enlightenment.


What words do you want to celebrate today?

Author event and giveaway: Carolyn Dingman

October 21, 2014

Carolyn Dingman

Debut author Carolyn Dingman was recently in town for a fun Book Your Lunch event that I was able to attend.  As a military brat, Carolyn attended six different elementary schools.  She studied architecture at Clemson and currently lives in Atlanta.    Carolyn considers herself shy and doesn’t like to speak in front of people so promotion is difficult for her.  I thought she did a terrific job engaging the audience.

Carolyn wasn’t really a writer or a reader but blogged about her children when they were small.  When her daughter learned about the blog, she demanded Carolyn stop and she did, that very day.  Carolyn had gotten into the habit of writing every day, though, and she found she missed it.  She started waking up with “scenes in [her] head” and decided to write them down.

She sent her first novel to the editor of an author friend.  The editor told her the book was awful but her dialogue was “effortless” and she encouraged her to write another story.  Carolyn worked with that editor for about a year.  She said the editor was mean and tough but she taught her how to write and sent her manuscript to an agent.  It took about 5 years to get to publication.

Cancel the WeddingCarolyn described Cancel the Wedding as a very Southern story of family, love, and place with a little romance and a little mystery.  I got her to autograph a copy of the book for one lucky reader.  To enter to win an autographed copy of CANCEL THE WEDDING, simply fill out the entry form.  Contest is open worldwide – one entry per person, please.  I will use to determine the winner.  Contest ends at midnight EDT Tuesday, October 28, 2014.    Comments are welcome (and appreciated) but will not get you an entry in the contest.

Mailbox Monday

October 20, 2014

Mailbox Monday October 20

Welcome to Mailbox Monday, a meme started by Marcia of To Be Continued, and now hosted on its own blog.   Another week has flown by but it was a big week for me – I actually finished more books than I received!  Here are the books that showed up in my mailbox:




What did you find in your mailbox last week?

Review: Pinkerton, Behave

October 17, 2014

Pinkerton, Behave

A family gets a new puppy and has trouble teaching him to behave.  They decide to take him to obedience school and he still doesn’t get it.  The obedience trainer can’t control him either and kicks him out.

Later that night when a burglar enters the family’s home, Pinkerton and his overenthusiastic behavior saves the day.

Pinkerton, Behave by Steven Kellogg is an adorable story to share with youngsters.  Pinkerton is a sweet dog and his family loves him but he frustrates them at times because he doesn’t obey their commands.  His behavior proves to be just what they need when someone breaks in, proving that sometimes it’s good to be different.

The illustrations in this book are wonderful and Pinkerton’s silly behavior is sure to cause youngsters to giggle.  With it’s straightforward storyline and adorable pictures, Pinkerton, Behave is sure to be a hit with young animal lovers.

kid konnection newI will link this up to Booking Mama’s Saturday feature, Kid Konnection. If you’d like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children’s books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, leave a comment as well as a link on her site tomorrow.

I am an Indiebound Affiliate.

At the movies: Boyhood

October 16, 2014


I’m sure by now most people have heard of Boyhood, the coming of age story that was filmed over a twelve year period.  It chronicles the fictional life of Mason from the ages of six to eighteen.  Mason’s parents are divorced and he and his sister live with their mother.  Their father has come back into their lives and makes an effort to see them.  In other words, Mason’s life is pretty ordinary.

Boyhood was written and directed by Richard Linklater.  He went out on a limb when he decided to film the story over twelve years and it worked extremely well.  The chemistry between the cast was fantastic and seeing the young actors go through awkward phases just added to the film’s charm.

This movie nails childhood and parenthood.  I saw it with Vance and think it’s a wonderful movie to share with your family.  We both thought the movie was terrific!  Keep in mind, though, that it’s rated R for a reason so it’s not for young children.  I hope to see this movie mentioned during awards season.

Wondrous Words Wednesday

October 15, 2014

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme where you can share new words that you’ve encountered or spotlight words you love.  Feel free to get creative!   If you want to play along, grab the button, write a post and come back and add your link to Mr. Linky!

I didn’t read a word while I was at the beach so I had to turn to my Word-a-Day calendar this week.

1. malapert – “‘Fair ladies, brave knights, churts, varlets, squires, scurvy knaves, men-at-arms, malapert rogues — all were merry.” — P. G. Wodehouse, The Man Upstairs and Other Stories

Malapert is an adjective that means impudently bold: saucy.


2. yips – “[Texas manager Ron] Washington’s team has the yips, pure and simple.” —Sam Donnellon, Philadelphia Daily News, October 29, 2010

When I see yip, I think of a dog barking.  Yips means a state of nervous tension affecting an athlete (as a golfer) in the performance of a crucial action.


3. concatenate – “As part of her presentation, Tiffany created a flow chart that concatenated all of the company’s suppliers and accounts.”

Concatenate means to link together in a series or chain.


What words do you want to celebrate today?


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