My Favourite Reads Giveaway Hop! June 1 to 6 (INT) – CLOSED

My Favourite Reads Giveaway Hop!

INTERNATIONAL!

June 1-6, 2012

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis

I’ve been anticipating this giveaway hop for a while because, really, I’m not only excited to share with my readers a few of my favourite books, I’m also excited to be able to share my enormous book-love for the titles I’ve listed that I’m willing to give the winner of this giveaway, his or her  choice of one (1) book from an extensive list of over 40 titles!

Yowsers!

Yup, I like to read. This is, after all, The Bibliotaphe’s Closet. So, come on in and enter! Check out what’s up for grabs (you can click on the photo for a description of the book):

***

 

 

***

Giveaway Rules:

  1. This giveaway is open to any entrant who resides in a country that The Book Depository (TBD) will deliver to for free. To check if TBD delivers to your country, check here.
  2. You must have a valid email and mailing address to qualify. No P.O. Box addresses accepted.
  3. You must be 15-years-old and up to enter.
  4. You must follow my blog to enter and complete the Rafflecopter form on my Facebook page.
  5. Only one entry per person, excluding extra-earned entries as disclosed by the Rafflecopter form.
  6. A winner will be chosen randomly by Rafflecopter.
  7. Winner must respond to notification within 48 hours to claim prize. If winner fails to claim prize within the time frame given, a new winner will be chosen.
  8. Contest ends Friday, June 6¸2012 at 11:59 p.m. EST
  9. For further details, please visit Zara Alexis’ Giveaway Contest Policy.
***
To enter the My Favourite Reads Giveaway at The Bibliotaphe’s Closet, click below and complete the Rafflecopter form.
***
***
Be sure to visit all the other blogs on the hop for more giveaways! You can see and visit the linky list here.
A special thanks to Kathy at I Am a Reader, Not a Writer and Rachelle Writes for hosting this blog hop!
***
Have fun and good luck!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Advertisements

The Headmaster’s Wager: A Review

Book Review:

The Headmaster’s Wager by Vincent Lam

05.30.2012

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis

***

Category: Fiction

Author: Vincent Lam

Format: Hardcover, 393 pages

Publisher: Doubleday Canada

ISBN: 978-0-385-66145-5

Pub Date: April 24, 2012

***

 

***

Here is a video clip of the author, Vincent Lam, speaking a little about his book, The Headmaster’s Wager:

***

Set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War, The Headmaster’s Wager by Vincent Lam is a plot-driven, cultural, and generational story of the father-and-son relationship as represented in the characters Chen Kai and Chen Pie Sou (or as he is better known by his English name in the novel, Percival Chen); and Percival Chen and Dai Jai.

***

And amidst the father-and-son archetypal quest for vulnerable and honest communication, understanding, and connection, is the ambition for wealth and success, and the competitive obstacles and vices of gambling, womanizing, and drug addiction.

Mahjong tiles

***

The violent backdrop of the Vietnam War is the pathetic fallacy that accompanies the repression of turbulent feelings found in the main character of Percival Chen, respectfully, affectionately, and sometimes mockingly referred to as hou jeungHeadmaster.

***

There is the yearning that began as a young boy for physical and emotional closeness to his father, Chen Kai, who leaves both his mother and himself in pursuit of wealth promised in the distant land of Indochina.

That continues in his wrongly placed affection for the cruel and wealthy socialite, Cecilia, with whom he is both unloved and abused.

***

What unravels is a life as headmaster to Chen Hap Sing, a prestigious school, The Percival Chen English Academy, as originally housed by the house his father built, which grew from the laborious determination of a man’s will to prosper in the business of rice mills.

This position continued its survival through his most trusted confidant and friend, Mak, an influential teacher and administrator at the school.

This survival continues even after his son, Dai Jai, is forced to leave the country after political entanglement with the Vietnamese authorities, which is assured by Mak’s myriad of contacts and connections and the power of the headmaster’s desperation and large sums of piastres-turned-gold.

Still, it is only with Jacqueline, a beautiful Annamese girl that Percival Chen finds solace and short-lived redemption.

***

The tension in the book originates from Percival Chen’s competing desire to share his honest feelings and vulnerability to those he loves and the difficult resignation he finds in following what is deemed appropriate, cultural decorum and propriety. This tension first reveals itself in the restraint of Percival Chen’s emotional landscape.

The enjoyment of the book is found in the tension that explodes as further truths are revealed by the surprising plot. And as significant it is that the characters are flawed, the success of The Headmaster’s Wager as a book is that it is a richly, plot-driven story.

And Percival Chen’s compulsion to play his stakes at the mahjong table is both his curse and his gift, as the skills he uses to read his opponents along with the luck housed in the belief and faith he has in the gold nugget heirloom that was passed down to him from his father—are the very same gifts he uses to survive not only the Vietnam War, but the tumultuous betrayals and sacrifices of his love—which is of course, the headmaster’s true and highest wager of all.

***

Zara’s Rating

***

A special thank you to Doubleday Canada and Random House for providing me with a media copy in exchange for an honest and unpaid review.

***

My name is Vietnamese.

My Family Reads Monday: 05.28.2012

My Family Reads Monday: 05.28.2012

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez

With so many blogging memes out there, the blogger has a myriad of choices to follow, comment, and post about.

At The Bibliotaphe’s Closet, the love of reading is about building up the writing and reading community. Yes, I read. Yes, I review books. Yes, I share my humble opinions about them—but I’m not the only one who does this.

Just last week, in making my usual round in book-perusing, I struck up a conversation with a “stranger” in the book aisle of what will remain an unnamed, but popular store! It turned out that she was also a book blogger who happily recommended her preferable YA authors. We exchanged business cards and information (yes, we bloggers do carry those) and off we went to ooh and aah at various new releases on the shelves.

Community.

 

***

I sometimes forget that my family is also a literary one.

My husband is in the book business and works regularly with sales representatives from other publishers. The man knows his ISBN’s.

The man knows his ISBN’s. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

***

My seven-year-old son is an avid reader though he won’t brag about it, he will often have a comic book or chapter book in his lap when most would expect him to be smashing his Hulk toy against his varied collection of Hot Wheels or dismantling yet another Transformer toy. (Trust me, he does do this, but when he doesn’t, he’s reading!)

Bookworm #1 (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

And my two-year-old, though she can’t yet read words in print, she entertains herself by picking up a book, turning its board book pages, and recreates a story from her own imagination from the pictures that she sees.

Bookworm #2 (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

***

My family reads. And so, the birth of another blogging meme: My Family Reads Mondays!

Why not join me? Just add your post to the linky below. And because reading and blogging is about community, I encourage you to visit other blogs listed to check out what families are reading together. This is a brand new meme, so please help pass the word along so others can join in the fun!

This week:

My husband is reading his birthday present: a copy of Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. No, it wasn’t a last-minute gift. He actually wanted it. And he’s in his 40’s! That’s my sweetheart. He wants to read the book before seeing the movie.

***

My son is reading Tiny Titans Field Trippin’, art by Baltazar Franco. He thinks it’s especially intelligent that the Batman-Dog named Ace has a sidekick, “a Robin, robin!” And I fully agree with him. Reading is and should be fun!

***

My daughter is enjoying a collection of Robert Munsch board books: Thomas’ Snowsuit, The Paper Bag Princess, and Mortimer. She especially likes imitating Thomas when he says “no!” Of course she does. She’s my daughter.

***

As for me, I just finished reading The Headmaster’s Wager by Vincent Lam and will begin a collection of short stories in the book called The Dead Are More Visible by Steven Heighton, if not ever so tempted to cheat and read Divergent by Veronica Roth instead. (I finally broke down and bought a copy after visiting it at the bookstore numerous times! I just had to have it. You know that feeling, don’t you?)

 ***

Powered by Linky Tools

Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

***

What are you and your family reading this week? To share, create a post and link up to this new weekly meme. Linky will close on Sunday, June 6, 2012.

Until then, happy family reading!

***

Stacking the Shelves: 05.27.2012

Stacking the Shelves: 05.27.2012

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez

These are my beloved book stats—I own:

  • six bookshelves
  • 1,652 books listed on Goodreads
  • 2,554 Plum Points
  • a love of three favourite publishers
  • 178 blog posts
  • 454 comments
  • 17,329 hits
  • one Brampton Public Library Card
  • and only 24 hours in a day

which equals a total of a whole lot of book loving love…and well, a compulsion to read literary fiction, memoirs, poetry, short stories, children’s books, and YA!

What does all this book madness lead to?

  • broken-in book spines
  • bent pages
  • last-minute bookmarks
  • bookshelf envy
  • blog branding
  • all-night read-a-thons
  • author worship
  • reading event line-ups
  • literary fiction crushes
  • mailbox anxiety disorder
  • publishers’ rejection slips
  • twitter addiction
  • hashtag deciphering
  • Follow Fridays
  • Friday Reads
  • curse of the Rafflecopter
  • GFC’d, Linky-Linked, Networked Blog-Bogged, and
  • feeding yourself to the Feedburner
  • doing the Dewey
  • chatting on Tweetchat
  • buffing at BufferApp
  • and pinning on Pinterest
  • giving your life over to The Book Depository
  • jumping on the Meme Wagon
  • and of course…
  • stacking your shelves!

which inevitably leads me to this post.

As a book-breathing individual, I, like you, am compelled to stack my shelves.

Here’s my stack this week:

Books for Review:

Books from Random House of Canada:

***

Books from House of Anansi:

***

 Books from Grove Atlantic:

***

Books I’ve Bought:

 ***

What I’ve Borrowed:

 ***

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga’s Reviews. To add your blog to the meme, you can visit here.

***

What have you stacked your shelves with this week?

***

Saturday Snapshot: 05.26.2012

Saturday Snapshot: 05.26.2012

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez

To participate in the Saturday Snapshot meme post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken then leave a direct link to your post. Please see Mister Linky at AT HOME WITH BOOKS.

Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don’t post random photos that you find online.

My father-in-law and mother-in-law after more than 50 years of marriage.

***

Every photo has captured in its moment a personal and secret story. A visual homage.

– Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez

***

I own copyright to all photos posted and request that any use of my photos be first cleared by permission from me with the use of an appropriate credit line, which I will specify and provide, as well as a link back to my webpage.

Copyright requests may be sent to me via email.

***

Asian Heritage Month: The Tibetan Festival of Losar

Asian Heritage Month:

The Tibetan Festival of Losar

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez

The Tibetan calendar is made up of twelve lunar months and Losar begins on the first day of the first month. It is the Tibetan word for new year and is celebrated for 15 days, with the first three days as the time for the main celebration.

***

On the first day of Losar, a beverage called changkol is made from chhaang, a Tibetan drink much like beer.

Changkol

***

The second day of Losar is known as King’s Losar (gyal-po lo-sar) because officially the day is reserved for a secular gathering in the hall of Excellence of Samsara and Nirvana. His Holiness and his government exchange greetings with both monastic and lay dignitaries, and other foreign visitors.

***

Then from the third day onwards, the people and monks begin to celebrate and enjoy the festive season.

Losar is also known as Bal Gyal Lo. Bal is Tibet, Gyal is King, Lo is year since it has been celebrated since the first King’s enthronement.

In the monasteries, the celebrations for the Losar begin on the twenty-ninth day of the twelfth month, the day before the Tibetan New Year’s Eve. On that day the monasteries do a protector deities’ special ritual called a puja and prepare for the celebrations. The custom that day is to make special noodle called guthuk.

Guthuk

***

Dough balls with hidden ingredients such as chillies, salt, wool, rice, or coal are given out. It is believed that the ingredients one finds hidden in one’s dough ball comments on one’s own character. If a person finds chilies in their dough, it can mean they are talkative. Good signs are predicted with white-coloured ingredients like salt, wool, or rice. But, if a person finds coal in the dough it can mean that person has a black heart.

***

Lama Losar are elaborate offerings made on the last day of the Tibetan year when decorations are put up and the monks of the Namgyal Monastery offer a sacrificial cake called tor ma on top of the Potala temple. They do this as an offering to the supreme hierarchy of Dharma protectors, the goddess Palden Lhamo.

Potala
Palden Lhamo

***

Led by the Dalai Lama, the abbots of three monasteries, lamas, tulku (reincarnated monks), government officials, and dignitaries join the ceremony and offer prayers, while the monks of Namgyal Monastery recite the Palden Lhamo invocation. After the ceremony, they all assemble in the hall called Excellence of Samsara and Nirvana for a formal greeting ceremony where, seated on his or her cushions, they exchange the traditional greeting, Tashi Delek.

***

In order to wish the Dalai Lama good luck for the coming year, ril bu (consecrated sacred pills made out of roasted barley dough) are offered to him by the representatives of the three great monasteries, the two Tantric Colleges, etc.

***

Then the garma (entertainers) perform a dance of good wishes.

***

And two senior monks stage a debate on buddhist philosophy and conclude their debate with an auspicious recitation in which the Buddhist teaching is briefly reviewed.

A request is made to the Dalai Lama and to all holders of the doctrine to remain for a long time amongst beings in Samsara (Sanskrit) in order to serve them through their enlightened activities. The official ceremony of the day then concludes with a ceremonial farewell to the His Holiness, the Dalai Lama.

***

To read more posts for the Asian Heritage Month Blog Event, please visit here.

***

If you were to receive the dough balls during the Losar celebrations, which hidden ingredient do you think you would most likely receive? 

Chillies, salt, wool, rice, or coal?

***

My name in Tibetan.

Asian Heritage Month: Tibetan Meditation and Mala Beads

Asian Heritage Month:

Tibetan Meditation

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez

Tibetan Chi Kung meditation or Qi Gong began by ancient societies in the mountains of Tibet which were influenced by Chinese martial arts and Indian yogic practices.

Tibetan Chi Kung incorporates many different schools of Chinese martial arts and is particularly dependent on visualization and the circulation of the breath.

It is practiced not only for health, but for spiritual purposes and does not arise from Tibetan Buddhism as expected, but from an older, nature-based religion.

In Tibetan Chi Kung, intuition is classified as receiving a thought about a situation or a person, and empathy is classified as having a somatic sensation in the body about a person or situation.

It is linked to the practice of an internal martial art called Lin Con Ji or Empty Force, which is a process where an Empty Force/Chi Kung master directs and manipulates energy to transmit to his students, allowing them to raise their level of energy. Various exercises combined with the teacher’s presence and intention to transmit energy cause this to happen.

 Tibetan priests are called Lamas, and many of them also learned martial arts. Because of the different cultural background, not only are the Lama’s meditation techniques different from those of the Chinese or Indian Buddhists, but their martial techniques are also different. Tibetan Qigong Meditation and martial arts were kept secret from the outside world, and were therefore called Mi Zong, with means secret style and emphasizes spiritual cultivation through still meditation.

***

Malas

Malas are mainly used to count mantras that can be recited for different purposes. In Tibetan Buddhism, malas traditionally consist of 108 beads. Doing one 108-bead mala counts as 100 mantra recitations where the extra repetitions are done to amend for any mistakes.

The material used to make the beads can vary according to the purpose of the mantras used. Some beads can be used for all purposes and can be made from the wood of the Bodhi tree or from Bodhi seeds. Another general-purpose mala is made from an unknown seed, the beads called Moon and Stars by Tibetans, and sometimes referred to as lotus root, lotus seed or linden nut.

Lotus seed mala

***

I am truly humbled by the Tibetan spirit and in my search to better understand a part of the Tibetan culture, I studied a little about Buddhist meditation and searched for my own mala beads.

In doing so, I discovered I wanted to be able to make them personally for myself and others.

Here are some of the mala beads I have created in honour of the Tibetan people, their struggle for religious freedom, and in support of His Holiness, the Dalai Lama.

The black onyx stone can help to release negative emotions such as sorrow and grief and used to end unhealthy relationships. It has protective properties. since black has an absence of light and known to create invisibility. – Mala beads created by (c) Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez.
Picture Jasper’s grounding energy can give you a strong sense of who you are. It is said to encourage creative visualisation and creativity. – (c) Mala beads created by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez.
Coral symbolizes life and blood force energy. It is used as an aid to depression, lethargy or deficient nutrition. – Mala beads created by (c) Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez.
Mala beads created by (c) Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez.

***

Here is the space I created for myself for quiet meditation:

(c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

***

To learn how to make your own set of mala beads, here is a video clip lesson found on YouTube.

***

***

To read more posts for the Asian Heritage Month Blog Event, please visit here.

***

If you are a practicing Buddhist, what is the mantra you use the most during your meditation?

Have you ever made your own personal mala beads?

What are your mala beads made of? If you don’t yet own mala beads, what kind of beads would you most likely want to use?

***

My name in Tibetan.

Asian Heritage Month: Tibetan Music

Asian Heritage Month: Tibetan Music

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez

Since the 12th century, Tibetans have practiced a tradition called the Lama Mani, which is the telling of Buddhist parables through song. They were performed by storytellers who travelled from village to village and Buddhist thangka paintings helped the audience in the teaching.

Street musicians in Ladakh.

***

Chanting

Tibetan music often involves chanting in Tibetan, which is an integral part of its Buddhist religion. The chants are often recitations of sacred religious texts or in celebration of Tibetan festivals.

Tibetan monks playing the conch, 1938.

***

World Music

One of my few hobbies includes listening to world music. And in doing so, I discovered the beautiful voice of Yunchen Lhamo, who had fled Tibet on foot in 1989; a voice gifted in devotional singing and has performed for the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people, His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, numerous times.

His Holiness, the Dalai Lama

***

Here is a video clip of Yunchen Lhamo singing at the American Music Festival in 2009. It is live and without any accompaniment:

***

To read more posts for the Asian Heritage Month Blog Event, please visit here.

***

Are you a practicing Buddhist? Have you ever chanted or meditated?

What do you think of Yunchen Lhamo’s voice?

***

My name in Tibetan.

Tote Bag Tuesday: 05.22.2012

Tote Bag Tuesday: 05.22.2012

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez

It’s Tuesday and it’s been a while since my Tote Bag has been filled. I’m not the book-buying type who can only purchase one or two books at a time. I visit bookstores instead and peruse, peruse, peruse.

I like to get better acquainted before I decide to take just any book home. I’m just like that. It takes a few trips to the library, the local bookstore, 10-minute intervals of turning the pages, a good deal—and voila! My tote bag gets voracious and happy.

Here’s my fill:

 ***

The Kindness of Strangers

Category: Fiction

Author: Katrina Kittle

Format: Trade Paperback, 400 pages

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers

ISBN: 978-006-0564-780

Pub Date: December 21, 2006

From Chapters-Indigo Website:

A young widow raising two boys, Sarah Laden is struggling to keep her family together. But when a shocking revelation rips apart the family of her closest friend, Sarah finds herself welcoming yet another troubled young boy into her already tumultuous life.

Jordan, a quiet, reclusive elementary school classmate of Sarah’s son Danny, has survived a terrible ordeal. By agreeing to become Jordan’s foster-mother, Sarah will be forced to question the things she has long believed. And as the delicate threads that bind their family begin to unravel, all the Ladens will have to face difficult truths about themselves and one another—and discover the power of love necessary to forgive and to heal.

***

The Flight of Gemma Hardy

Category: Fiction

Author: Margot Livesey

Format: Trade Paperback, 432 pages

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers

ISBN: 978-144-3406-130

Pub Date: January 23, 2012

From the Chapters-Indigo Website:

Fate has not been kind to Gemma Hardy. Orphaned by the age of ten, neglected by a bitter and cruel aunt, sent to a boarding school where she is both servant and student, young Gemma seems destined for a life of hardship and loneliness. Yet her bright spirit burns strong. Fiercely intelligent, singularly determined, Gemma overcomes each challenge and setback, growing stronger and more certain of her path. Now an independent young woman with dreams of the future, she accepts a position as an au pair on the remote and beautiful Orkney Islands.

But Gemma’s biggest trial is about to begin . . . A journey of passion and betrayal, secrets and lies, redemption and discovery that will lead her to a life she’s never dreamed of.

***

Her Fearful Symmetry

 Category: Fiction

Author: Audrey Niffenegger

Format: Trade Paperback, 416 pages

Publisher: Vintage Canada

ISBN: 978-030-7397-461

Pub Date: July 6, 2010

From the Chapters-Indigo Website:

Julia and Valentina Poole are normal American teenagers – normal, at least, for identical “mirror” twins who have no interest in college or jobs or possibly anything outside their cozy suburban home. But everything changes when they receive notice that an aunt whom they didn’t know existed has died and left them her amazing flat in a building by Highgate Cemetery in London. They feel that at last their own lives can begin … but they have no idea that they’ve been summoned into a tangle of fraying lives, from the OCD-suffering crossword setter who lives above them to their aunt’s mysterious and elusive lover who lives below them, and even to their aunt herself, who never got over her estrangement from the mother of the girls – her own twin – and who can’t even seem to quite leave her flat….

***

***

Wizard of the Crow

 Category: Fiction

Author: Ngugi Wa’thiong’o

Format: Trade Paperback, 784 pages

Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group

ISBN: 978-140-0033-843

Pub Date: August 28, 2007

From the Chapters-Indigo Website:

In exile now for more than twenty years, Kenyan novelist, playwright, poet and critic Ngugi wa Thiong’o has become one of the most widely read African writers. Commencing in “our times” and set in the fictional “Free Republic of Aburiria,” Wizard of the Crow dramatizes with corrosive humor and keenness of observation a battle for control of the souls of the Aburirian people. Fashioning the stories of the powerful and the ordinary into a dazzling mosaic, this magnificent novel reveals humanity in all its endlessly surprising complexity.

***

Truth and Beauty: A Friendship

Category: Fiction

Author: Ann Patchett

Format: Trade Paperback, 272 pages

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers

ISBN: 978-006-0572-150

Pub Date: April 14, 2005

From the Chapters-Indigo Website:

Ann Patchett and the late Lucy Grealy met in college in 1981, and, after enrolling in the Iowa Writers? Workshop, began a friendship that would be as defining to both of their lives as their work. In Grealy?s critically acclaimed memoir, Autobiography of a Face, she wrote about losing part of her jaw to childhood cancer, years of chemotherapy and radiation, and endless reconstructive surgeries. In Truth & Beauty, the story isn?t Lucy?s life or Ann?s life, but the parts of their lives they shared. This is a portrait of unwavering commitment that spans twenty years, from the long winters of the Midwest, to surgical wards, to book parties in New York. Through love, fame, drugs, and despair, this is what it means to be part of two lives that are intertwined . . . and what happens when one is left behind.

This is a tender, brutal book about loving the person we cannot save. It is about loyalty, and being lifted up by the sheer effervescence of someone who knew how to live life to the fullest.

***

Runaway

Category: Fiction

Author: Alice Munro

Format: Trade Paperback, 352 pages

Publisher: Penguin Canada

ISBN: 978-014-3050-711

Pub Date: October 1, 2005

From the Chapters-Indigo Website:

The incomparable Alice Munro’s bestselling and rapturously acclaimed Runaway is a book of extraordinary stories about love and its infinite betrayals and surprises. In Munro’s hands, the people she writes about-women of all ages and circumstances, and their friends, lovers, parents, and children-become as vivid as our own neighbours. It is her miraculous gift to make these stories as real and unforgettable as our own.

***

 

***

The Enchantress of Florence

 Category: Fiction

Author: Salman Rushdie

Format: Trade Paperback, 368 pages

Publisher: Vintage Canada

ISBN: 978-067-6977-592

Pub Date: January 6, 2009

From the Chapters-Indigo Website:

A tall, yellow-haired young European traveller calling himself “Mogor dell’Amore,” the Mughal of Love, arrives at the court of the real Grand Mughal, the Emperor Akbar, with a tale to tell that begins to obsess the whole imperial capital. The stranger claims to be the child of a lost Mughal princess, the youngest sister of Akbar’s grandfather Babar: Qara Köz, ‘Lady Black Eyes’, a great beauty believed to possess powers of enchantment and sorcery, who is taken captive first by an Uzbeg warlord, then by the Shah of Persia, and finally becomes the lover of a certain Argalia, a Florentine soldier of fortune, commander of the armies of the Ottoman Sultan. When Argalia returns home with his Mughal mistress the city is mesmerised by her presence, and much trouble ensues.

The Enchantress of Florence is a love story and a mystery – the story of a woman attempting to command her own destiny in a man’s world. It brings together two cities that barely know each other – the hedonistic Mughal capital, in which the brilliant emperor wrestles daily with questions of belief, desire and the treachery of sons, and the equally sensual Florentine world of powerful courtesans, humanist philosophy and inhuman torture, where Argalia’s boyhood friend ‘il Machia’ – Niccolò Machiavelli – is learning, the hard way, about the true brutality of power. These two worlds, so far apart, turn out to be uncannily alike, and the enchantments of women hold sway over them both.

But is Mogor’s story true? And if so, then what happened to the lost princess? And if he’s a liar, must he die?

***

A Map of Glass

Category: Fiction

Author: Jane Urquhart

Format: Trade Paperback, 392 pages

Publisher: McClelland & Stewart

ISBN: 978-077-1087-288

Pub Date: June 13, 2006

From the Chapters-Indigo Website:

Jane Urquhart’s stunning new novel weaves two parallel stories, one set in contemporary Toronto and Prince Edward County, Ontario, the other in the nineteenth century on the northern shores of Lake Ontario.

Sylvia Bradley was rescued from her parents’ house by a doctor attracted to and challenged by her withdrawn ways. Their subsequent marriage has nourished her, but ultimately her husband’s care has formed a kind of prison. When she meets Andrew Woodman, a historical geographer, her world changes.

A year after Andrew’s death, Sylvia makes an unlikely connection with Jerome McNaughton, a young Toronto artist whose discovery of Andrew’s body on a small island at the mouth of the St. Lawrence River unlocks a secret in his own past. After Sylvia finds Jerome in Toronto, she shares with him the story of her unusual childhood and of her devastating and ecstatic affair with Andrew, a man whose life was irrevocably affected by the decisions of the past. At the breathtaking centre of the novel is the compelling tale of Andrew’s forebears. We meet his great-great-grandfather, Joseph Woodman, whose ambitions brought him from England to the northeastern shores of Lake Ontario, during the days of the flourishing timber and shipbuilding industries; Joseph’s practical, independent and isolated daughter, Annabel; and his son, Branwell, an innkeeper and a painter. It is Branwell’s eventual liaison with an orphaned French-Canadian woman that begins the family’s new generation and sets the stage for future events.

A novel about loss and the transitory nature of place, A Map of Glassis vivid with evocative prose and haunting imagery – a lake of light on a wooden table; a hotel gradually buried by sand; a fully clothed man frozen in an iceberg; a blind woman tracing her fingers over a tactile map. Containing all of the elements for which Jane Urquhart’s writing is celebrated, it stands as her richest, most accomplished novel to date.

 ***

The Witch of Portobello

Category: Fiction

Author: Paulo Coelho

Format: Trade Paperback, 288 pages

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers

ISBN: 978-006-1338-816

Pub Date: January 17, 2008

From the Chapters-Indigo Website:

How do we find the courage to always be true to ourselves-even if we are unsure of who we are?

That is the central question of international bestselling author Paulo Coelho”s profound new work, The Witch of Portobello. It is the story of a mysterious woman named Athena, told by the many who knew her well-or hardly at all. Like The AlchemistThe Witch of Portobello is the kind of story that will transform the way readers think about love, passion, joy, and sacrifice.

***

To read more posts on Tote Bag Tuesdays, you can visit here.

***

 What did you fill in your tote bag this week?

How do you decide what to buy?

***

My Japanese name: 清水 Shimizu (clear water) 子 Aiko (child of the morning sun).

Asian Heritage Month: The Tibetan Language

Asian Heritage Month Blog Event: The Tibetan Language

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez

Dzongkha (Bhutanese) (རྫོང་ཁ) is the national language in Bhutan and is spoken by about 130,000 people in Bhutan, Nepal, and India. It is a Sino-Tibetan language which is closely related to Tibetan and distantly related to Chinese.

The Tibetan alphabet

The form of the alphabet below is known as u-chen (དབུ་ཅན་) and is used for printing. Cursive versions of the alphabet, such as the gyuk yig or ‘flowing script’ (རྒྱུག་ཡིག་) are used for informal writing.

Consonants

Tibetan consonants

Vowels

Tibetan vowel diacritics

Numerals

Tibetan numerals

Punctuation and other symbols

Tibetan punctuation and other symbols

From: Omniglot: http://www.omniglot.com/writing/tibetan.htm

***

Here is an excellent audio and video introduction to the consonants by Lama David Curtis on YouTube:

***

***

To read more posts for the Asian Heritage Month Blog Event, please visit here.

***

What other rare Asian dialects are you familiar with or would like to learn?

***

My name in Tibetan.