"I cannot sleep unless I am surrounded by books."


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

New Post Up On the New AmoXcalli Website

Want to find out what I thought of The Ballad of Wilbur and the Moose? Head on over to AmoXcalli's new home and find out!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

AmoXcalli and Cuentecitos Are Moving

AmoxCalli and Cuentecitos are moving. I found that having blogs scattered all over the place was wearing me out and decided to consolidate to make it easy on myself and for everyone else. I'm still working on moving over the link lists and fixing glitches but I've imported all the posts from both blogs to the new website and will be posting anything new there. The homepage is www.ginaruiz.com and from there you can link to all the sub-domains like AmoXcalli (amoxcalli.ginaruiz.com) and Cuentecitos (cuentecitos.ginaruiz.com). Hope to see you all there!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Author: Kristen Cashore
Publisher: Harcourt
ISBN: ISBN 9780152063962

In a world of seven kingdoms where seven very different kings rule there are . A special people called the Graced. The Graced have eyes of different colors and their graces manifest in different ways. Katsa has been graced with killing and the rumors of her bare-handed and terrible skill is famed throughout the kingdoms. Katsa has learned to live with her grace but it is a lonely life. She is a key player in a secret organization called the Council and tries to make use of her grace in a positive way.

One day a venerable grandfather of kings has been kidnapped and Kasta is determined to find out what lies behind it. In her quest, she meets Po, a prince of another kingdom unlike anyone she’s ever met, with a fighting grace that is uncanny and mysterious. With Po, she has found a friend and together they set out to solve the mystery of who kidnapped the grandfather.

Not all is as it seems with Po or the very creepy King Leck who is known for his kindness to animals and children. There is something strangely unsettling about this king who lives very far away.

Katsa and Po are wonderful characters, rich and breathing life, fire and intelligence. I found myself completely caught up in this wonderful story of intrigue, mystery and romance. I was almost breathless at the adventure and admired the loner Katsa more and more as the story progressed. Prince Po is equally wonderful and complex, his mysterious fighting grace coupled with his sensitivity to nature, his deep kindness and warm heart made him a hero worth cheering for.

Kristen Cashore
in her publishing debut has penned a rollicking good read. Political intrigue, adventure, a richly imagined world with well-defined characters that leap off the page make this book one that will be read again and again. I sense a sequel and I can’t wait! Katsa is my new favorite heroine and the brave Princess Bitterblue is someone I want to hear more about. Both boys and girls will want to read this story if they can wrest the book away from their parents.

BEA in L.A.

BookExpo America is over now and I’ve finally finished unpacking my books. I’m settling in for a long summer of reading and it looks like it will be a good one based on what I’ve read so far. It’s a darn good thing I quit my day job and am now freelancing which gives me time to catch up on my reviewing and reading.

Having BEA in Los Angeles this year was a special treat for me. It had both pros and cons but no matter what, it remains my favorite event each year and one I eagerly look forward to.

Exhibitors setting up on Thursday

No shipping meant I could pick up whatever I wanted without worrying about the cost of shipping it or those agonizing moments in line going through boxes and deciding what to leave and what to take. That was sheer joy. On the other hand, I missed my visit to New York and quite honestly, I prefer the Javits Convention Center. To me, it makes perfect sense. It goes straight across on two floors of convention hall making it easy to navigate and easy to get back and forth to shipping with piles of heavy books. The Los Angeles Convention Center (sorry L.A.) is a nightmare. Granted it’s huge and beautiful but why in God’s name does it meander so? The Children’s Book section was in the West Hall miles away it seemed from the shipping area. The panels were spread out all over the place and I missed several just trying to find them. The Main section was nice and the booths were easy to find but trying to get from there to the West Hall and the theatre was like visiting another country. At the end of each day, I was too exhausted to go socializing at parties and events. Instead, I went home and passed out with throbbing feet.

oooooooooooooh Inkdeath!

Another detriment to having BookExpo in L.A. for me meant I missed out on seeing publishing friends I know who live in New York and couldn’t make it out for the trip. For those of you who stayed in NYC this year, I missed you. I miss Times Square and shopping and oh God, I missed the food and the pizza. New York, I missed you!

I so did not win the signed Led Zepplin guitar.

Donald Kaplan and Jeph Loeb

BEA in Los Angeles also meant that my five-year old granddaughter Jasmine and my two-year old grandson Aiden got to come for a bit. Their mom and my photographer Marissa Ruiz, brought them for a couple of hours on Saturday. J & A got to meet Carl the dog, who was quite taken with Aiden and they played catch for a bit while we blocked the aisle. Jasmine was able to come with me to a Candlewick Press event in the theatre where the likes of Katherine Paterson, Jane Yolen, Kate DiCamillo and MT Anderson discussed their portions of the marvelous new book Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out. Jane Yolen, one of my literary heroes read her piece for the book – a poem of an imagined conversation between John and Abigail Adams. Jasmine was entranced. The artwork for the book looks astounding and you’ll be seeing my review later.

Good Dog Carl and Aiden Ruiz play ball in the aisle

First Book has a great new campaign to promote books. Posters of famous book characters lined the halls at BEA with the taglines, What if you had never met this explorer, this bunny, this mouse? It was fantastic.

Here is Jasmine with the Dora poster - um live action anyone?

BookExpo for Rachel meant a surprising meeting on Friday in the shipping area with her long-lost, never met before Australian cousin. We were trying to find out if we could find a dolly and the man in front of us turned around to answer Rachel and he turned out to be her cousin from the Australian branch of the family! That was wild.

Rachel B and her new found cousin Tony Nash

I had a chance to meet Brittany Duncan, the publicist at Candlewick that keeps me up to date on everything Candlewick is doing. She’s just as lovely in person as she is in our email correspondence and it was a pleasure meeting her.

The Dragonology event

I had also gone to the previous Candlewick Press Dragonology event with Donald Kaplan, the son of our local booksellers Debbie and Jeremy Kaplan who were at BEA. The Kaplans own Read Books, a fine establishment of used books and new magazines. We spend lots of time there and it was fun to hang out with them at the show. Donald got to play the new Dragonology game for Nintendo Wii and I was quite taken with the animation and graphics on it. I learned of Monsterology, publication date of 8/12 and Spyology (10/28) and I can’t wait.

I ran into Yoda

If I were still working for AWN, I’d be nagging them to write about that game and the announcement that was made that day that Universal had optioned the Dragonology books film rights. A Dragonology movie! We used to have this tally at the office of how many books I could call that would be optioned. I seem to have this uncanny sense of what will be picked up and Dragonology was one of my calls, along with Tale of Despereaux, Spiderwick, Eragon, Coraline, Skullduggery Pleasant and many others. I wonder if I could turn that into a job…and yes I know I should have dragged myself away from the books to go to the Books to Film panels.

I met new friends at BookExpo in Los Angeles too. I missed the Latino panels because I got lost in the books. There were some that really caught my eye and a few I went hunting like Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book and Corneila Funke’s long awaited Inkdeath. The convention center was packed and I often heard exclamations of people oohing and ahing over the books. I’m not the only book geek in town, which makes me very happy.

My roommate Rachel came along to photograph the event on Friday and quickly became a BEA fan. She was a joy to have around and often spotted things I missed. Her effervescence and joyful energy made it that much more fun. At one point I turned and asked Debbie Kaplan, “Where’s Rachel?” and she said, “Oh she’s back there with some guy. I think his name is Slash.” Sure enough, there was Rachel B chatting away in the HarperCollins booth to Slash of Guns ‘n Roses who was nice as nice can be. We both got pictures taken, although my face looks a little bizarrely twisted.


Rachel and Slash

Slash, me and my strangely twisted face

Rachel and I also met the marvelously talented team of Robert Sabuda and Matthew Reinhart at the First Book booth and got the Peter Pan pop up and Megabeasts signed. Rachel works for GLAD, Inc. (The Greater Los Angeles Agency on Deafness) and it just popped into my head to ask if they had ever considered writing a pop-up book on signing. Turns out they have and that’s all I’m saying at this juncture other than I’m a long time fan of paper engineering and arts as well as a huge pop-up/mechanical book collector.

Sabuda and Reinhart signing

I missed Neil Gaiman who I would have dearly loved to speak with, Barbara Walters whom I admire greatly and Jamie Lee Curtis whom I had met at the Glad Gospel Brunch a couple of weeks beforehand. I met John Dean who signed his book on Barry Goldwater, Laura Numeroff, Elizabeth Blumel who was an absolute darling and more authors than I can count. I missed out on Susan Orlean’s (The Orchid Thief) first book for children and one I am dying to find. I missed Cory Doctorow, whom I greatly admire (sigh) and Cecil Castelucci, of whom I’m a great fan. She is local I hear, so maybe I’ll meet her one of these days. One of my biggest thrills was meeting Nikki Giovanni on Sunday. She is one of my favorite poets and to meet her was a great honor. A lovely, sweet and gracious lady she was too. Another special moment was meeting the very sweet Jessica Barksdale Inclan (featured on La Bloga by Daniel Olivas) whom I met through Event Mingle, the BEA social calendaring tool. Darn it! I just now realized I missed one of my favorite authors signing one of my all time favorite books….Christopher Moore and the special edition of Lamb which has to be one of the funniest books I ever read and completely twisted too. That hurts that I missed him. My idea of heaven - lunch with James Morrow (Only Begotten Daughter, Towing Jehovah) and Christopher Moore (Lamb, Bloodsucking Fiends, Island of the Sequined Love Nuns). Yeah, I know, I’m probably a little twisted too. Have you read Towing Jehovah? Oh. My. God. And Lamb? Oh please tell me you have…it’s absolutely wonderful and completely irreverent.

Jessica Barksdale Inclan and me

The books! The books were there in all their glory; big, beautiful stacks of them. There were so many that I missed and so many that I brought home. I can’t wait to get to reading and reviewing them all. Some of the books that made it home and onto my reading list are:

I Am Apache
Edward Hopper, Painter of Light and Shadow
The Toss of a Lemon
Sea of Poppies
The Enchantress of Florence
Pure Goldwater
Planet Walker
War Journal
Too Many Toys
Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out (gorgeous)
Inkdeath (highly anticipated)
The White Mary
2666 (OMG Roberto Bolano!)
The Graveyard Book (highly anticipated)
I’m With the Band
River of Words
The Viewer (Shaun Tan!)
A Growling Place
The Runaway Dolls (oooh Selznic did the illustrations)
and many, many more.

Nikki Giovanni and me

One of the panels I did manage to make it to (late) was one on marketing and one of the panelists was Mark Sarvas of the Elegant Variation. There was a woman (didn’t catch her name) who started a company pushing literary events to big companies (sounds like a dream job to me) and it resonated as I knew exactly how she felt to be bursting with new ideas that would take a company to a new level and direction but be ignored because people are adverse to anything that is out of the box thinking and think you’re doing something wrong. Yeah, that’s one reason I quit my day job. (If you ever think of starting an L.A. branch of your company I want to work for you).

I also stopped by the Dark Horse booth, which was busy and fun. I stopped and spoke to Jeremy Atkins and met Dirk Wolf. I also noticed a particularly interesting book on cartoonists and animators that I’m terribly interested in. I’ll have to look into it.

Jeremy & Dirk at Dark Horse Comics

Everywhere I went, people were doing the brisk, interesting business of books. Rights were being bought and sold, authors were signing, publishers were stacking rapidly decreasing piles of books, meetings were being held. Librarians, those wonderful heroes were everywhere loading up for their local libraries. I have an extra soft spot in my heart for librarians. When I was ten years old, we moved to a crappy little town called Cudahy or as we called it, Crudahy. I hated it and wanted nothing more than to get out of that town as fast as I could and never go back. There was one bright side. One day I found the local library that was attached to the park. I’d never been in a library before. I walked in and roamed amongst the stacks mesmerized but not knowing what to do. I was super shy too and would never even have asked. The librarian there found me and took a long time explaining the library, how to get a card and how it worked. I took my application for a library card home to my mother to sign and was back the next day. That librarian took me aside and talked to me long enough to figure out what she thought I’d like. I loved the book she handed me and it forever changed me. I became a book person overnight. I went to that little library every day, wrote book reports for the Summer Reading Program and read everything that I could get my hands on. It pains me know that libraries are in danger, that our tax money is more geared to war than literacy. That nameless librarian all those years ago changed my life, she touched me, and who knows how many countless other children’s lives were changed, made better, more expanded by the books she recommended. How many people’s lives have been touched by their local librarian? It makes me happy to see the librarians, so many of them at BookExpo. I always have the best time speaking with them and in each that I speak to is that unquenchable love of books and their desire to share them with the world within and without their libraries. Whatever would we do without them? Let’s hope we never have to find out.

HarperCollins was a fun booth to visit, as was Scholastic where I was lucky enough to pick up a copy of Inkdeath, which I coveted. Penguin, Random House, Harry Abrams, McGraw Hill all were fun booths. At Taschen, Rachel and I were mesmerized by the beautiful art books. We opened The Big Penis Book, which was (not so surprisingly) about penises, lots of them and very big ones, very BIG. We were in shock and couldn’t stop turning the pages and exclaiming. A crowd had formed behind us and there was a lot of exclaiming and murmuring as we turned the pages. The books photography was beautiful, if bizarre and it certainly was a conversation piece. I didn’t know one could actually tie a penis into a knot. This is one coffee table book sure to entertain.

All in all, I’d say BookExpo, the City of Angels version was quite the show and I had the best time. According to the BookExpo America website BEA 2008 was a great success with over 37,000 registered attendees representing over 80 countries. Please do visit the BEA website and check out the podcasts of all the sessions I missed. There is also a touching tribute to Tim Russert and a podcast of his 2006 BEA appearance.

I look forward to it being in New York next year and maybe this time, I’ll finally make it to the Guggenheim.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

In Memorium - Paula Gunn Allen

I just returned from a long day at BookExpo America and was deeply saddened to find this message of Paula Gunn Allen's passing in my email from Denise Chavez:

Dear BBF Friends,
We received this news from Feroza Jusawalla, now teaching at UNM, about the passing of Paula Gunn Allen. I have loved Paula and her vital and impassioned work for many years and read with her several years ago. Please keep her in light and lift her to the ancestors.
Denise Chavez
-----Forwarded message-----
Paula Gunn Allen, b.1939, Laguna Pueblo/Sioux/Scots/Lebanese New Mexico native, passed away peacefully on the night of May 29, 2008 at her home in Fort Bragg, California, after a long and courageous battle with lung cancer. Family and friends were at her side.
This poet, philosopher, scholar, and teacher grew up in Cubero, New Mexico. She received her doctorate in American Studies from UNM in 1976; that dissertation evolved into The Sacred Hoop: Recovering the Feminine in American Indian Traditions(1986), a pioneering work in Native American , feminist, and GLB studies. She also edited the benchmark book for the MLA about teaching Native Studies: Studies in American Indian Literature: Curriculum and Course Designs. She was also a prolific writer of poems, fiction, essays; her last scholarly book, on Pocahontas, was a nominee for the National Book Award. She retired from UCLA in 1999, but always checked back into New Mexico, never stopped being a teacher and mentor, never stopped cracking and appreciating outrageous jokes and bad puns. (The last one she and I shared, about 3 weeks ago, was "Well, you know what they say: What happens in the Zuni Mountains stays in the Zuni mountains,,,"---oh, my, her laugh. )

Her posthumous volume of poems, America The Beautiful, will be published by West End Press within the year.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

How Cool is This? Get Your Buffy Fix Now.

I so want the Tarot deck!!

Press release from Dark Horse Comics:

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Mystical Parlor Games

MILWAUKIE, OR—Twentieth Century Fox Licensing and Merchandising and Dark Horse Comics are proud to present two magical products that are sure to provide hours of sleepless slumber parties this fall. Joss Whedon's mythology comes alive with the official Buffy the Vampire Slayer Tarot Deck and the Buffy the Vampire Slayer “Conversations with Dead People” Board!

Named for an award-winning episode from Season Seven of the BVS television series—and written by Buffy Season Eight: Wolves at the Gate author Drew Goddard—the Buffy the Vampire Slayer “Conversations with Dead People” Board is a great game for fans, in this world and the next, to communicate with each other about life, death, and other mysteries. In the tradition of the Sunnydale Hellmouth, through which countless entities gained entry, fearless souls can let voices from the other side guide the planchette along the board to spell out the answers to their queries. Folks can channel their inner Willow and hone their witchy skills, providing hours of fun for the whole séance! Accompanying the game board and planchette, the Buffy the Vampire Slayer “Conversations with Dead People” Board includes an exclusive, comic-style instruction book featuring sequential art by Buffy SeasonEight guest illustrator Paul Lee!

The Buffy the Vampire Slayer Tarot Deck was written and conceived by renowned tarot writer Rachel Pollack, author of twelve books on the tarot, including the renowned 78 Degrees of Wisdom. She teams with long-time Buffy artist Paul Lee to create this fully painted 78-card deck, drawing on characters, themes, and legends from all eight seasons of Whedon's masterpiece. This special deck was created by Pollack not merely as a collector's item, but as an actual, working tarot deck: the cards come with a book explaining their divinatory meanings and use. The traditional symbols of the tarot are reinterpreted through the vision of Whedon's Buffy universe.
The Buffy the Vampire Slayer “Conversations with Dead People” Board and Buffy the Vampire Slayer Tarot Deck will both be available in September 2008 and retail at $14.99-$29.99

About Twentieth Century Fox Licensing & Merchandising
A recognized industry leader, Twentieth Century Fox Licensing and Merchandising licenses and markets properties worldwide on behalf of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Twentieth Television and Fox Broadcasting Company, as well as third-party lines. The division is aligned with Twentieth Century Fox Television, one of the top suppliers of prime-time entertainment programming to the broadcast networks.

About Dark Horse Comics

Since 1986, Dark Horse Comics has proven to be a solid example of how integrity and innovation can help broaden a unique storytelling medium and establish a small, homegrown company as an industry giant. In addition to publishing comics from top talent like Frank Miller, Mike Mignola, Neil Gaiman, and comics legend Will Eisner, their highly successful line of comics and products based on popular properties includes Star Wars, Aliens, Conan, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Emily the Strange, Tim Burton, Trigun, and The Incredibles. Today Dark Horse Comics is the third-largest comic-book publisher in the U.S. and is recognized as the world's leading publisher of licensed comics material.