March 2020 Review

What a world we live in! I hope everyone is staying safe and sane.

Here are some highlights from the first half of the month.

A friend and I watched The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time at Portland Center Stage. I remember reading the novel when it first came out and it was a wonderful experiencing it as a play. I recommend that you go see it. Powerful, moving story. Superb acting. Amazing production and set design.

I finally visited Kidd’s Toy Museum which had an eclectic mix of vintage toys and collectibles. The elderly couple who owns it were nice and knowledgeable. Younger kids may not enjoy it but adults will love it for the nostalgia. I loved seeing all the different coin banks!

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And one day I was enjoying the cherry blossoms along the waterfront. And a couple days later I woke up to a world blanketed in snow.

My Filipino dish of the month was Tortang Talong with Giniling which is basically an Eggplant Omelette with Ground Pork. You saute garlic, onions and tomato and then add pork. You bake eggplants and then flatten them out. Then you fry it adding the “giniling” and add eggs and season to taste. It’s supposed to be more flat than how mine turned out which looks more like an eggplant boat with the omelette passengers holding on for dear life. But you make do with what you’ve got.

tortandtalong

I’ve been enjoying video conferencing during this time of social distancing. I’ve also been taking Carson Ellis’s Quarantine Art Class over on her Instagram. Although I’m way behind. It’s been nice to use a different part of my brain.

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I rearranged my room.

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The thing I was super proud of was meeting my goal of sending out query letters this quarter for my picture book manuscript.

I’ve been doing good with my book review videos. You can watch all episodes of “Earl’s Live One-Take KidLit Book Reviews” on my YouTube channel.

It’s been weird not volunteering but I think I’m going to take up folding soul boxes again. My year total so far is 17.75 hours.

My ability to focus has practically been non-existent so I haven’t really been reading. I’m only at 86 books so far this year. And I realized I haven’t even read a Young Adult in 2020 yet. Any recommendations?

How was March for you? How are you holding up?

My Reading Week #IMWAYR- March 30, 2020

Thanks also to Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers for their focus on Children’s Literature of this meme!
Thanks to Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers for their focus on Children’s Literature of this meme!

It’s been a weird year even before all the coronavirus madness. My energy to do things, even the things I normally enjoy doing, hasn’t been there the past couple of months. I apologize to all of you who visit and comment on my blog- or my Youtube channel of book reviews- for not reciprocating the gesture. I promise to do better.

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I was going through the books I had lying around the house and I figured now was the best time to read them. I had a copy of A Thousand Beginnings and Endings edited by Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman because it was an anthology of reimagined folktales and mythologies from East and South Asian countries including two from the Philippines, which were the ones I read. What I liked about this collection was that after each story, the authors would give some additional details about the source of the story they were telling.

Melissa de la Cruz’s “Code of Honor” took place within her Blue Bloods world incorporating the Philippines’s aswang legend of banshee-like vampire beings. It reminded me of an R.L. Stine short story with it being about a girl trying to keep her bloody secret from the popular group of girls in a fancy school.

I didn’t realize Roshani Chokshi was half-Indian and half-Filipino. I knew her from her popular Aru Shah books and she was actually coming to the bookstore in April. In “Forbidden Fruit,” she took on the tale of Maria Makiling, an origin story of the Philippines’s Mount Makiling which is said to look like a sleeping beauty. Hers featured a goddess falling in love with a human and how that didn’t end well for either. For some reason, the word that comes to mind to describe her writing is “stylish.”

I liked it enough that I sought out and read her other short story with Filipino characters, “The Star Maiden” available in Shimmer magazine. This one featured a girl and her grandma and how they may be descended from celestial beings.

One of the series I binge-read recently was Ben Guterson’s Winterhouse novels. Perfect for fans who enjoyed The Mysterious Benedict Society! List-making and puzzle-loving girl ends up staying at a hotel full of odd guests and family secrets. She ends up more involved than she anticipated as she finds a much sought after book in its library.

Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful LifeDesigning Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life by Bill Burnett

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was surprised when I realized I didn’t review this book. It was one of the most useful self-help/productivity books I’ve ever read. I loved the concept of reframing. A practical guide to change your life.

Designing Your Work Life: How to Thrive and Change and Find Happiness at WorkDesigning Your Work Life: How to Thrive and Change and Find Happiness at Work by Bill Burnett

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed their first book which was a general guide to a better life. This was more specific. The only reason I didn’t like it as much because it wasn’t relevant to me at this time. I can see how helpful this would be to others. In fact, I already know some people I should recommend this to.

You can support independent bookstores with your next audio book purchase on Libro.fm. I hope you try it out. I’m eying Don Quixote by Miguel De Cervantes Saavedra and narrated by George Guidall since I’ve been wanting to read it. (Although I did buy a physical copy already. And, honestly, I tried reading it before but felt it was too boring. I’m hoping a good narrator will change that.)

Review Notes
***= Liked It
****= Recommended
*****= Favorite

You can view all the books I’ve read at my Goodreads page.

Thanks for visiting my blog. Happy Reading!

February 2020 Review

February continued to be tough for me in terms of my mood. Luckily it’s the shortest month and I could feel a change is coming.

Apparently I have the bad habit of putting things off until the last minute so most of the things I wanted to get done, I scrambled to do so in the last few days.

*My Live Book Reviews is still going well. Please visit my YouTube channel to watch them!

*I was happy that I was also able to cross another thing off my list which was to share more of my writings with others. On World Read Aloud Day, I read a poem I wrote “The Boy who Loved Books” which I’ll be creating a thank you card with for my upcoming book drive in April.

*For my Filipino dish a month challenge, I made Chicken Adobo. After pancit and lumpia, this may be the next well-known dish. It’s relatively easy and cheap to make that captures a flavor profile (from the mixture of soy sauce and vinegar) common to the Filipino. I don’t really like it since I’m not a fan of vinegar but it’s usually what’s served up in Filipino restaurants.

I think it was my first time cooking with uncooked meat so I was worried about çooking it all the way through. But I think with the simmering, the frying, and the resimmering, the chicken was fully cooked.

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(Oh, the reason I wanted to cook adobo was so I can have chicken adobo fried rice. It’s even better the day after.)

*One of my favorite events in Portland is the Winter Lights Festival. I just love anything that pierces through the darkness.

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*Independent bookstores are where book lovers meet! It was so cool to have Mr. Schu, literacy champion, stop by the store! There are a few literacy champions I’m sure I’ll recognize if I run into them. Fortunately, I’ve been super tired lately so my inhibitions were low and I told him I recognized him. Otherwise, that’s just a creepy thing to say. Anyway, he wanted a group picture and, apparently, I’m a selfie expert hence this picture! It’s always fun to geek out over KidLit!

schu

*It’s been awhile but I finally went on another one of my Bookish Travels. This time to The Dalles where I visited Oregon’s oldest bookstore and one of the coolest Children’s section in a library I’ve seen.

*Since I apparently didn’t have anything better to do, I mapped out the public libraries I’ve visited since I moved to Portland in 2008. I didn’t include other kinds of libraries. You can view the map here.

*I forgot to include these sections during last month’s review but I’m at 64 books read and 15.25 volunteer hours so far this year- both mere fractions of what they usually are.

How was February for you?

#NFPB2020- February 19, 2020

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It’s my first live book review video for a nonfiction picture book. You can watch it below:

Don’t forget to watch my other videos in my YouTube channel!

Ruth Objects: The Life of Ruth Bader GinsburgRuth Objects: The Life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Doreen Rappaport
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Doreen Rappaport’s Big Words biography series adds another title. This time features the one and only Ruth Bader Ginsburg. You can’t really go wrong with this combination.

Red Rover: Curiosity on MarsRed Rover: Curiosity on Mars by Richard Ho
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was super impressed with this one, a great example of a nonfiction picture book where it can work as a read-aloud and the backmatter provides lots of additional information if one wants to go deeper. This would be a good companion to Brian Floca’s Moonshot.

Thanks for visiting my blog. Happy Reading!

My Reading Week #IMWAYR- February 10, 2020

Thanks also to Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers for their focus on Children’s Literature of this meme!
Thanks to Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers for their focus on Children’s Literature of this meme!

One of the things I wanted to do this year was to get more comfortable with my speaking skills. That’s why I started my Live One-Take Book Reviews. And, another thing I wanted to do was share more of my works online.

For World Read Aloud Day, even though I was a day late, I decided to share a poem I wrote, “The Boy who Loved Books”, which I plan to work on adding illustrations to give as thank you cards to donors to my upcoming book drive. You can watch the video here:

Recent Posts:
January 2020 Review

I’ll be posting two more video reviews this week so keep an eye out for those.

The Old TruckThe Old Truck by Jerome Pumphrey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A delightful new picture book by the Pumphrey brothers inspired by the strong women in their lives. This tells the intertwining tales of an old truck and a young girl as they grow and dream together.

Story BoatStory Boat by Kyo Maclear

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I didn’t know what to expect from this book. At first I thought it was going to be writing and storytelling but it’s actually a look into the migrant experience through the lens of hope and creativity.

In a JarIn a Jar by Deborah Marcero

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Beautiful and enchanting about two new friends who collect all sorts of things like rainbows and sunsets. But what happens when one of them moves away? How can they continue collecting the wonders of the world and will their friendship last?

Swim Swim SinkSwim Swim Sink by Jenn Harney

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fun for story time. It’s a rhyming picture book following three recently hatched ducklings learning how to swim. But the story goes awry when one of them can’t. Readers will enjoy the creative solutions the ducking comes up with.

Snail CrossingSnail Crossing by Corey R. Tabor

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Why did the snail cross the road- or at least try to? To get to the other side where the cabbage patch was, of course. But will slow and steady win the race or will it be an escar-stop? Despite my attempt at humor with that joke, this is a cute story worth reading.

One Year to an Organized Life: From Your Closets to Your Finances, the Week-by-Week Guide to Getting Completely
 Organized for GoodOne Year to an Organized Life: From Your
Closets to Your Finances, the Week-by-Week Guide to Getting Completely Organized for Good
by Regina Leeds

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I must have checked out and browsed this book at least a few times since it was released. And I think it’s only now listening to the audiobook that I actually finished. It’s good to have in the background as you clean and you’ll probably pick up some good pointers here and there.

Review Notes
***= Liked It
****= Recommended
*****= Favorite

You can view all the books I’ve read at my Goodreads page.

Thanks for visiting my blog. Happy Reading!

January 2020 Review

January always seems more promising than it usually is with the ringing in of a new year and our minds full of resolutions to better ourselves. That usually leads to a hangover (thankfully, not me) and feeling overwhelmed by all the things we need and want to do (unfortunately, me.)

January was mostly me being in a funk. The weather (gray days and constant rain) had something to do with it. Plus, I’ve just been constantly tired maybe due to poor food choices and not getting enough sleep. And there was that whole thing of me asking, “What’s the point of all this?” (In the sense of whether or not what I was doing was actually making my life any better. Fortunately, it wasn’t coming from a darker place.)

But I’m happy to say that I am getting pumped up again to get things done. In fact, looking back it’s not like I was wasting away the past month.

As I mentioned during my Looking Forward in 2020 post, my word of the year is VISION.

2020goals

For my 20 in 2020 goals:

*I started filming my live book reviews.

*I renewed my SCBWI membership.

*I completed another year of StoryStorm.

I cooked Sopas for my Filipino dish a month challenge. Sopas is a a creamy chicken soup full of veggies. The recipe I looked up suggested adding hot dog- and I used Vienna sausages instead- but I would skip that next time.

Even though I’ve made this before, there was still some ordeals. The pot I bought was too small so there was almost a situation of the soup overflowing all over the stove. Plus I had to make a back up batch of the elbow macaroni since there wasn’t enough room. and I think I was using two different recipes- one that served 4 people, the other 8- so some of the ingredients were off.

My roommate had some and he didn’t throw up so that’s a good sign. He is on his way to see a doctor but that was an appointment set up way beforehand.

I served mine with pan de sal, a Filipino bread roll which despite its Spanish translation of “bread of salt”, is actually a bit sweet.

sopas

*I bought all the books for my Penguin Classics Filipino Books challenge. I’m glad that they included these five works from Filipino authors. I’ve only read one of the novelsNoli Me Tangere by Jose Rizal- so I’m looking forward to reading the others.

Have you read any of these books? What other Filipino authors and books would you recommend?

*I received a generous grant from someone who encourages others to pursue their creative dreams. I’m so grateful for this act of kindness show to me.

*I visited a new bookstore- or, at least, a bookstore that has relocated since my last visit.

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*I also attended the grand opening of Ledding Library which was definitely a highlight for me.

How was January for you?

My Reading Week #IMWAYR- February 3, 2020

Thanks also to Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers for their focus on Children’s Literature of this meme!
Thanks to Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers for their focus on Children’s Literature of this meme!

Recent Posts:

Watch my review of When Stars are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed:

Going Down Home with DaddyGoing Down Home with Daddy by Kelly Starling Lyons

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This beautifully illustrated picture book is a celebration of family and traditions.

Lawrence: The Bunny Who Wanted to Be NakedLawrence: The Bunny Who Wanted to Be Naked by Vern Kousky

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An interesting story about a mother bunny who likes to dress up her son in outrageous clothes she makes and how she gets a dose of her own medicine.

Odd Dog OutOdd Dog Out by Rob Biddulph

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A cute story about being yourself even- or especially- when you stand out!

All the Pieces FitAll the Pieces Fit by Judd Winick

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Everything has been leading up to this. Fans of this graphic novel series will want to grab a copy to see how Hilo fares with a final battle against Razorwark. It will take everyone working together and making big sacrifices to see it through. And even then readers should brace themselves for a surprise!

The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the HorseThe Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A cross between Winnie the Pooh and The Little Prince, this very short story offers insights to life as each of the characters go off on their adventures.

Review Notes
***= Liked It
****= Recommended
*****= Favorite

You can view all the books I’ve read at my Goodreads page.

Thanks for visiting my blog. Happy Reading!