In areas of Latin America, Asia, Africa and the Middle East it is common practice to lure children into the horrific business of war by using rape, murder, fear, drugs and kidnapping as tools to keep the machine well oiled. They Fight Like Soldiers, They Die Like Children is an unflinching look at the harshness of the inhumane practice of turning children into killing machines. It is one of the hardest books you will ever read because it is so devastating and truthful. This book casts light on atrocities committed to girls and boys as young as six and seven, raped and drugged, tricked into murdering. The author, Romeo Dallaire, is a retired Lieutenant General of Canada. Now a senator, he served 37 years with the armed forces. He led an ill fated United Nations peace-keeping mission in Rwanda and as such came face to face with the reality of child soldiers. He is an officer of the Order of Canada and an Officer of the Legion of Merit of The United States. This story begins in Africa. There is a moving introduction by Ishmael Beah, author of A Long Way Gone, himself a child soldier for many years. The book moves into a slightly cumbersome stretch in which Dallaire outlines his purpose with the book and what is to be expected. Dallaire’s youth was spent in Quebec. He is the son of a retired Canadian staff sergeant serving in the Canadian Army. His father, he says, suffered what would now be called post-traumatic stress disorder. There is interesting background here and a chapter dubbed Warrior Boy illustrates how he grew into the young man that would eventually be perhaps Canada’s best known peacekeeper. This Canadian idyllic life of the young Dallaire, while not perfect, appears to be almost absurd in its privilege when juxtaposed against the chapter that follows, Kidom. Kidom is almost a children’s bedtime story when it begins. It is a brother and sister in Africa playing and imagining with a child-like sense of wonder at watching the world and nature unfold around them quietly and happily. The characters in this section are composites as is pointed out clearly early on, but they are rooted in reality. This portion of the book is the most powerful and devastating and heart-wrenching bit. It is told, at first, with something that leans heavily into the territory of magic realism as would be seen in a Gabriel Garcia Marquez novel. But by the end of the arc that is Kidom your heart will be ripped out. Kidom is the hardest part of the book to read, but it is also the most compelling. While I understand why this book was written in this way, I think this portion might have stood alone. In fact as hard as it was to read I think it would have been literary genius if the author had sustained that fictional composite story throughout. “I lay down on my belly in the soft dust, and with my chin cupped in my palms and watched a little sandfly struggle over the uneven ground. Why was he walking? If I had wings I’d always fly.” But Kidom ends on the saddest of notes and on with more historical fact. The book delves deeply into some of the humanitarian work and research being done around the world to understand and solve the problem of child soldiers. Chapter Eight winds back around to the story that was started in the section Kidom. In this chapter though, a fictional peacekeeper reacts to threat of death by killing a child soldier and Dallaire fictionalizes how that is experienced by a soldier. The book ends with a call to advocacy for all readers. There are simple suggestions on how to get involved by contacting media and more complex ideas on how to get involved fully with the Child Soldiers Initiative. This is Romeo Dallaire’s second book. Shake Hands With The Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda is the retired Lieutenant General’s first book, which also won the Governor General’s Literary Award in Canada. Shake Hands was acclaimed around the world and was also turned into an Emmy award-winning documentary and a feature film.
They FightLike Soldiers, They Die Like Children: The Quest To Eradicate The Use of Child Soldiers, by Romeo Dallaire with Jessica Dee Humphreys, Hardcover: 320 pages, Walker & Company (May 24, 2011) New York, $26.00 US
|The author Brendan Brazier|
• In a blender, combine all ingredients and blend until smooth.
• In a blender, combine all ingredients and blend until smooth.
Whole Foods To Thrive: Nutrient-Dense, Plant-Based Recipes for Peak Health, is by Brendan Brazier, published by Penguin Canada, 288 pages, May 2011, Adult, Nutrition, $28.00
|Shake and Go Smoothie Mixes (Prize package)|
|Whole Food Optimizer Smoothie Mixes (Prize Pack) You can win one or the other|
Anyone following trends in print media and book publishing will know that this is nothing if not an industry in flux. I am fortunate enough to have front row seats to the evolution of books and media and it is at once a challenging and exciting time. The publishing world was quick to recognize the threat, but they were also, in print media incredibly slow to act upon it and challenge their traditional genre. But over the past few months I have noticed a number of increasingly savvy and interesting approaches to forcing interactivity upon readers. So if ebooks are the new norm and social media is the fastest growing media ever, how then are books, three dimensional handheld books, making themselves relevant or reasserting themselves in an industry in flux?
In the past few months I have seen a number of really creative ideas.
1. The new standard for book tours – is the book blog tour. I have run several here at thriftymommasbrainfood. The virtual book tour makes a lot of sense. Authors don’t need to knock themselves out quite as much criss-crossing Canada to flog their newest release. Instead they do so by pitching bloggers, simply sending books out to a select group with on line influence. There are often accompanying contests, giveaways and reviews.
2. CDs/trailers other media. Sing You Home by blockbuster best-selling author Jodi Picoult has a CD tucked inside the front of the her latest novel, you are to play the CD as a supplement to the chapters. The songs by Ellen Wilber are essentially a soundtrack to the book. This book was published by Simon and Schuster Canada.
3. Complementary use of social media. I just finished a book being promoted by Graf-Martin Media called The Heart Revolution. The author is Sergio De La Mora. The book itself is an empowering faith-based book teaching people to reconnect with their heart and trust the power of that to drive your actions throughout life. Punctuating the book, published by Baker Group, are several links to web sites. The links take you to sermons on line. Creative.
4. Kids books are employing on line games and tricks that kick it up a notch. Best example I have seen of this lately is The Search For Wondla, by Tony Diterlizzi, also published by Simon and Schuster. Main character Eva Nine’s life comes to a computer near you if you hold parts of the book upto a camera on your computer. Bizarre and yet how very logical for sci fi children’s fiction, especially for this generation of children.
5. But truly the smartest thing I have seen so far is The Zen of Social Media Marketing by Shama Hyder Kabani. A book about marketing with this fast-growing media form, the savvy author takes her material to an entirely different dimension. She clearly indicates at the start of the book, that buying it also gives you access to to the continuously updated digital version. Access the site for http://www.zenofsocialmedia.com/ and put the password in provided in her book and receive her latest data and expert opinion.
He found true love, tried out 52 different jobs and, along the way took the temperature of an entire generation, kickstarting a one-week job empire. Sean Aiken, author of The One-Week Job Project spoke with thriftymomma last week about the U.S. release of his book this coming week and a summer job project like no other. From firefighter to yoga instructor. From cowboy to fundraiser, Sean Aiken has tried it all. Aiken is author of The One-Week Job Project and a media sensation. In one year Aiken, a recent college graduate from Port Moody, B.C. tried on as many hats as possible in search of a career that sparked his passion. His idea attracted attention from around North America. “When I first started this project I thought I was alone in this search,” Aiken told thriftymomma. But Aiken quickly learned the topic hit a nerve and legions of fans understood the universal search for a career they were passionate about. This week Random House publishes his book in the United States. This month I had the pleasure of reading the story, a fun, light and, at times, philosophical look at life and the relationship we have with our career and our colleagues. The year he spent examining himself and his own passions led him to employers who were self obsessed and those who were selfless, those who tirelessly worked for non profits raising funds to help cure cancer and those who promoted films pompously self inflated and egomaniacal. There are numerous excellent glimpses into really interesting career paths. Aiken recalls some of his favourites: “My answer changes. I really enjoyed being a park ranger in Hawaii and a real estate agent.” In the book, his fondness for Steam Whistle Brewing, a microbrewery, in Toronto makes this one of the highlights. Clearly this employer has a knack for treating employees right and a reputation for knocking off work at 5:30 and rounding up the crew for a trip through downtown Toronto on the Steam Whistle party bus. Throughout the book the media attention Aiken attracted first shocked him and then became a little too familiar. He chronicles the trials of keeping up with the media requests and the dangers of falling into a trap where you begin to believe all of the hype created by the image machine. Early in his travels Aiken attracted a sponsor and was fortunate to be able to have this unique quest funded in part by NiceJob. Along the way he met a girl named Danna, from Toronto, who endures the lengthy separations and ups and downs of the bizarre year. Thriftymomma wanted to know if Danna and Sean were still together and readers will be glad to know they are happily living in B. C. Later on in the book Sean’s mother is diagnosed with cancer causing him to question whether he can finish the journey or not. But Aiken clarifies his mother is well now. “I could definitely see myself teaching at some point,” says Aiken. “For now I am really enjoying giving the talks. It has been so rewarding to have so many students come up to me afterwards and say how much the book resonated with them.”
This book, blog and web site, http://www.oneweekjob.com/ are all very entertaining.The book is excellent for anyone contemplating a job change or searching for a career. It would be a lovely graduation gift for a high school or university student. On the One-Week Job site a new project, which is a mini version of the book, has been spun off into a contest starting this summer. The winners net $3,000 to try out 8 different jobs, hopefully finding their passion in the process. Entrants must be 18 years of age. Each individual will sculpt their own path and line up their own series of jobs to try out. Interest has been very good so far, he notes.
The One-Week Job Project, Penguin Canada, 2010, 288 pages, $19.
To be released in the U.S. next week Random House.
Thriftymommastips rating $$$$$ out of $$$$$. Highly entertaining and informative. Enjoyable and insightful. Thriftymomma doesn’t receive compensation for her reviews, instead publishers send one free copy for review.
Popped by the Simon and Schuster Canada site this morning and found this new contest you might want to enter. You and your friends can each have a copy of this promising new novel from Philippa Gregory. Gregory is a New York Times Bestselling author of The Other Boleyn Girl. Visit Simon and Schuster Canada site and enter the contest to win 10 copies for your book club. If I win I will share them with you and kick off our own book club. Good Luck and Happy reading! Visit http://www.simonandschuster.ca/ to enter.
I don’t usually blog about press releases, but this week the Penguin Group’s very cool Ebay.com charity auction initiative caught my eye. A much awaited new Guy Gavriel Kay book was launched on line earlier this month, with one lucky winner bidding just over $500 for the first copy of this new novel Under Heaven. Matching contributions were made by both the publisher and author. The total proceeds $1570 go to the Indigo Books and Music Love of Reading Fund, which supports high needs elementary school literacy programs across Canada. The winner was identified as Neil Negandhi of Toronto, a fan of the author, but with this much press and this much money raised for charity everyone involved won. Negandhi ended up with the first book off the presses, authenticated by publisher as the first copy and autographed by the author. This is truly an excellent example of combining social media, new media, philanthropy and publicity. It is no secret that publishers have been struggling with economy and ebooks and multiple other stressors that impact the industry. Earlier this month Penguin Group Canada also launched a web site http://www.guygavrielkay.ca/ dedicated to Guy Gavriel Kay’s works. In addition there is now a Twitter and Facebook account along with downloadable artwork and posters. While other companies might be struggling to find their footing in this brave new digital world Penguin Group Canada clearly already has a leg up on the competition. Gavriel Kay’s novel is on sale in Canada this week. Penguin Group Canada was founded in 1974.
Thriftymomma doesn’t receive compensation for her opinions or review.
I have been a great fan of Cordelia Strube from the time she first drew attention for her novel Alex and Zee. Strube’s first novel was nominated for the W.H. Smith Books In Canada first novel award and it garnered a fair bit of praise roughly 15 years ago, back when young Canadian authors were being discovered and celebrated regularly, in both this country, and on the world stage. Strube’s various other novels Milton’s Elements and Teaching Pigs To Sing are firmly tucked away in my own personal home library of great Canadian authors. Teaching Pigs To Sing was a finalist for the Governor General’s Award. When I heard of Strube’s latest novel Lemon, I quickly contacted Coach House books and asked for a review copy for thriftymommasbrainfood. And from the moment I received this one in the mail I couldn’t put it down. I read it on the treadmill at the Y and while waiting for my daughter’s at their various activities which they do all over town. I literally could not put it down. And that doesn’t happen that often any more as my reading time vies with many other obligations, commitments and passions. Strube is a witty author, with a strong narrative voice, perhaps an aquired taste for some, but her characters are often strong females with a very jaded view of life, or a cynical eye. Lemon is no exception. Lemon is the story of a disenfranchised young girl, 16, named Limone, nicknamed Lemon, who spends her days rebelling at school and her off hours volunteering in a children’s cancer ward at a local hospital. At the start of the story when we meet Lemon, she has three mothers. The biological mother seeking her, her adoptive father’s depressed ex who tried to kill them both, and her most recent stepmother. Lemon lives with the most recent stepmother, a school principal who has become agoraphobic since being stabbed. The young teen escapes her life by reading voraciously. In her sad world teens beat each other up to feel something, sexting each other constantly, then betraying their friends by posting their pervy messages on sites like Youtube. Cyberbullying is the norm at Lemon’s high school and teachers seem to look the other way as most of the students have some secret underground perversion. Despite the claim that Lemon feels she has three mothers, she sees herself as an orphan in a world that is not worth living in and she spends her spare time hiding in trees observing the drug dealers, thugs and lowlifes in her neighbourhood. While she was at one point adopted, those parents have long since broken up. When we meet her, her adoptive mother is dead, her birthmother is searching for her and Lemon is conflicted. Her adoptive father, who eventually it is revealed, turns out to be her biological father, is a horrid skirtchaser she dubbed The Slug. Lemon’s closest friend is a child named Kadylak dying of cancer, her one teenage friend is the school slut and her only other friend is a dark intense poet practising to be a psychiatrist. When Lemon’s only true friend dies of cancer she receives a package from the family containing the girls’ drawings and it plummets her into a downward spiral. “Brightly coloured birds with stick legs under an always smiling sun. Drawings I watched her pen intently with felt marker, wondering why the sun was always smiling. She who could not go outside for fear of burning her chemo-blasted skin always drew smiling suns. I believed she would survive because of those suns.” While this book is extremely graphic, Lemon is a beautiful character with an unflinching view of the really desparate world she feels she has inherited. In the mirror she sees her biology tying her to people she either doesn’t know or cannot stand. In the end this is a story about the nature of family. When a young drifter who is also an environmentalist comes to live with the odd pair, the novel clearly becomes an essay on the nature of family and what it is that binds us to this earth. Lemon is one of the most humourous, sad and touching books I have read in a very long time. It is very respectful of adoption language and truthful in rendering the emotions involved in this bittersweet process. It is life in an adoptive family, but darker, way funnier and taken to the extreme. This is a story I will treasure.
Lemon by Cordelia Strube
Coach House Books
Toronto, 2009, 260 pages, $19.95 Canadian $21.95 U.S.
thriftymommas rating $$$$ and 1/2 out of $$$$$.