Belief: Ricepaper Magazine Books

“I would not know where to begin healing
were it not for my ancestors
in whose great shadows
that reached across
oceans and islands
I took solace, when the scars stung under the sun.
We have inherited our parents’ scars, still hurting but – ” Karen-Luz Sison, “To Heal, To Be Healing

About Belief: Ricepaper Magazine Books

A new anthology from Canada’s renowned Ricepaper Magazine, this third collection in the Ricepaper Magazine series includes a wide range of short stories, poetry, and nonfiction by writers of Asian descent from across the world. The theme which binds the collection is “belief,” a notion personal to each individual sharing a piece of themselves in their works.

“This book is a platform for both established and new writers to share their voices in a publishing landscape that is often difficult for racialized writers to navigate,” co-editor Allan Cho comments. Co-editor JF Garrard adds, “In light of anti-Asian hate which has been occurring throughout the years and is only newsworthy now; we hope that this book allows people to better understand and feel empathy with the Asian community and to make a connection, since we all want to transform our society to be a better place.”

Within the Belief anthology, the honorable Joy Kogawa shares her lifelong lessons scribbled in her diary, Carmen Chan shares the trauma experienced by the women in her family in the new world, Felix Wong shares a strange serendipitous experience of witnessing a wedding of strangers, and Garry Engkent describes how introducing the egg roll at his family’s restaurant causes a heated controversy in Thibeault Falls. The late Jim Wong-Chu reflects on what the first railway workers would have thought about the ritual of Christmas.

Each author contributing to this new collection shares a conviction of truth shaping the reality of life in the Asian diaspora. 

Contributors to Belief include: 

Nastasha Alli – Moni Brar – Carmen Chan – Taeyin Cho-Glueck – Steven Chua – Ingrid Cui – Erica Dionara – Garry Engkent – Ken Lem, translated by Lei Jin – Daisy Kioko Moriyama – Joy Kogawa – Janika Oza – Kathy Pham – Cindy Phan – Emi Sasagawa – Karen-Luz Sison – Bianca Weeko Martin  – Kevin Wong – Felix Wong – Jim Wong-Chu – Christine Wu – Kailin Yang – Peter KS Yu – Michelle Zhang

My Thoughts

Wow, that was my first thought reading through these powerful writings. I found myself reading it from start to finish, started over again and then read through it a third time. I cannot even pick one favourite, as they all touched my heart in different ways.

In the editor’s introduction, we are told that “a story is a piece of a writer’s heart, written to inspire, change and challenge the thoughts of their friends, peers, children and the world”. That really stuck with me as I read through each story, poem and nonfiction. We are given a very real, raw, honest look into each author’s life, moment in time, feelings and family history. Some of these moments made me pause and reflect and other times, you could feel their pain (and the hurt that they hid) from their words.

From those who feel isolated and lost after immigrating to North America, feeling a need for their home and those who came as skilled workers but cannot actually use those skills. From family divides to the power of your name. Each page carries an important story and lesson not only for those of Asian descent but individuals of all backgrounds. These collections will hit home to those of Asian descent and I am sure will remind them of their family members or even moments in their own life, making each story very relatable and possibly bring understanding. My husband found a connection to the story around immigrants who have come to North America but cannot use the skills and degrees that they achieved overseas. He immigrated from Zimbabwe and faced many barriers with his education being recognized and really struggled in the first five years of being in Canada.

It is so important to listen, to learn and to be mindful of our own words and the impact that they can have on others. So many times individuals from another culture cannot understand nor appreciate the sacrifices and the history of a family and this is why it is important to speak those words and to write them down. I found the afterword just as important as it contained information about health as it pertains to Asians titled, ‘Save a Life, Stop Being Asian” and given the context of the pandemic that we are in this is so important. Especially as we see the same themes of stoicism, politeness and the family hierarchy. JF Garrard gives a very personal and real approach to handling health crisis’ in the family, especially with parents.

This is a very special anthology that has had a great impact on me. It was honest, it was raw and it was full of feeling and wisdom – a definite must read.

You can purchase a copy of Belief on Amazon.

Rating: 5/5

About Ricepaper Magazine

Ricepaper Magazine is a Vancouver-based Canadian literary magazine which has showcased Asian Canadian literature, culture, and the arts since 1994.

Ricepaper Magazine publishes new poetry, fiction, drama, graphic novels, translation, as well as cultural reviews of books, theatre, and film. Ricepaper Magazine also publishes original art and photography.

Ricepaper first began in 1994 as a newsletter for the Asian Canadian Writers’ Workshop (ACWW) – eight pages which were photocopied back-to-back and stapled together. Ricepaper was a way for ACWW members to communicate amongst each other as well as celebrate each other’s successes. ACWW, a non-profit organization, continues to publish Ricepaper today.  From these humble beginnings, Ricepaper became a quarterly magazine that was distributed coast-to-coast, publishing the new voices coming out of the Asian Canadian arts and literary community. With advancements in technology, Ricepaper has moved online affording writers a much wider audience and far richer medium to deliver ideas. Ricepaper Magazine continues to be the longest running literary magazine of its kind with an Asian Canadian perspective.

Disclosure: I received a copy of Belief in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Cerebral Palsy: ‘A Story’ Finding the Calm After the Storm

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Part memoir, part motivational guide, this is Ilana’s open and honest journey, from an angry confused child, knowing something was wrong, but not knowing what, to the ‘real’ her.

About Cerebral Palsy: ‘A Story’ Finding the Calm After the Storm

Born the second of premature twins, Ilana knew she was different from a young age, but for all the wrong reasons. Part memoir, part motivational guide, this is Ilana’s open and honest journey, from an angry confused child, knowing something was wrong, but not knowing what, to the ‘real’ her – a courageous woman using her experiences and lessons to create inspiring messages about mental and physical health, positivity, resilience and change.

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon, BAM, B&N, Indiebound and Waterstones.

About the Author

“Living with cerebral palsy is enormously difficult. But what if you never knew you had it? This is the incredible story of Ilana Estelle. Born the second of premature twins, an hour apart, from a young age Ilana knew she was different, but for all the wrong reasons. A child of the 60s, Ilana experienced first-hand the way that disability was, so often brushed under the carpet, not spoken about. Her constant physical and mental struggles made her feel isolated, alone, frustrated, and misunderstood… and it took 46 years for her to find out why. Part memoir, part motivational guide, Cerebral Palsy: a story ‘Finding the Calm After The Storm’ is Ilana’s open and honest journey from an angry, confused child, knowing something was wrong, not knowing what was wrong, what her disability was, or that there was a diagnosis, to the ‘real’ her – a courageous woman using her experiences and lessons to create inspiring messages about mental and physical health, positivity, resilience and change.”

You can connect with her on her website, Twitter and Facebook.

The Giveaway

Cerebral Palsy: ‘A Story’ Finding the Calm After the Storm Book Tour Giveaway

Disclosure: This is a spotlight tour, and I did not receive compensation for this post. All opinions expressed are my own.

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That’s Coola, Tallulah!

Ever wonder what your favorite lovey would do if you let them be in charge of playtime? 

About That’s Coola, Tallulah!

Ever wonder what your favorite lovey would do if you let them be in charge of playtime?

Imagine being the fairiest of fairy princesses, the unicorniest unicorns or tea party hostesses with the mostesses. Seeing is believing in this carefree journey of freedom and fun featuring Stella Bella and her lively doll, Tallulah. They are inseparable playmates that get into all sorts of mischief. In the middle of the pair’s high jinks, Stella Bella’s conscience always leads her the right way until its tea time and the cookie jar gets broken. When Mommy discovers the mess, the two are separated. Will Stella Bella and Tallulah ever be able to play together again?

Our Thoughts

That’s Coola, Tallulah! is the fun story of a young, imaginative girl and her favourite best friend – her doll. Stella Bella and Tallulah go on some of the grandest adventures together and are as close as any two best friends can be (I am sure so many of us can relate to the bond that we have had or our child has had with a special character or stuffed animal). In this book, they are stuck inside for the day and must come up with their own fun adventures. And while their adventures are very fun, they are a bit mischievous and make the Mom in me say, “oh no – what a mess!”.

I loved how even though the pair were having fun, when Stella Bella realizes that they may have gone a bit too far in their fun, they work hard to fix their messes. Stella Bella will pause and let Tallulah know that they need to scrub, clean and fix whatever it is that they may have made a mess with. That is until they get caught breaking the cookie jar and they are separated for a bit.

We loved this adorable book. It was fun to read together, we had to laugh at everything these two got into. Some of the adventures these two get up to, I am sure your own child may have done at home. The book itself was easy to read and would be great for young children. Stella Bella has a beautiful imagination and I loved how this book brought her sense of wonder, fun and imagination to life. The illustrations were perfect and fit the character and magical fun of this book. This is a fun, creative and beautiful book that your child will love to read with you.

You can learn more about the book here.

About the Author

Cheryl was born in a small, modest town Manville, New Jersey. Her loving parents were Emil and Stella Hudock. Emil was a handsome, lively trombone player in a popular swing orchestra while Stella was a beautiful, young, junior model that appeared in the very first issue of SEVENTEEN Magazine. They were very supportive of their only child’s hopes and dreams.

As a young child, Cheryl loved playing with dolls and making people laugh. She loved mimicking different voices and putting on shows with her costumes from her dance classes.

Cheryl pursued acting in college at Brigham Young University and later in NYC at the Lee Strasburg Institute. Moving to Los Angeles, she decided to focus on a voice over career. She always had a unique young sounding voice. Cheryl has a wide vocal range allowing her to create little girls to little old ladies.

Being perseverant with many random voice jobs with the various animation studios in Hollywood, Cheryl managed to work her way up to become an award winning voice actress on the globally popular animated show Rugrats. In 2006 she received a WIN Award for Best Comedic Actress In An Animated Show. The Women’s Image Network promotes dimensional female media images and applaud film and television that advances the value of women and girls.

Cheryl cherishes the fact of being a part of such a celebrated global cartoon franchise. She regards being Angelica as a privilege and golden opportunity to give joy to the children and families of the world. The cartoon show allowed Cheryl many exciting experiences such as Rugrats getting a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame, her character, Angelica being a guest on The Rosie O’Donnell Show, attending Rugrat movie premieres and even a Rugrat Live Stage Show.

She has collected tons of Rugrat merchandise that she would donate to young cancer patients in the hospital with a charity she was involved with called Famous Fone Friends.

Enjoying the notoriety of being on such a celebrated Nickelodeon animated show, Cheryl had other aspirations. She always wanted to write a children’s picture book. During high school, she excelled at creative writing and in college Cheryl started writing in journals. Lots of them!

Cheryl’s favorite children’s picture book is Polar The Titanic Bear by Daisy Corning Stone Spedden. This captivating story is told through the eyes of a young boy’s toy bear. It describes an American family’s travels in the Edwardian Era, culminating with their voyage on the famous Titanic.

Having the story told through the toy bear’s perspective inspired Cheryl to write her debut children’s picture book with this same approach. Cheryl’s book is entitled That’s Coola Tallulah. It’s a love story about the true friendship between Stella Bella and her favorite doll, Tallulah and the magical relationship that bonds them together at the heart. The story is told through the eyes of Tallulah.

Stella Bella and her lively doll, Tallulah are inseparable playmates that get into all sorts of mischief. The instigator is, of course, Tallulah. Stella Bella is always up for adventure and goes along with her fun loving doll’s desires. In the middle of the pair’s shenanigans, though, Stella Bella’s conscience always leads her the right way until its tea time and the cookie jar gets broken. When Mommy discovers the mess, uh oh, the two are separated. Will they ever be able to play together again?

Award winning voice actress Cheryl Chase gives life to the animated character, Angelica on Rugrats. Her debut children’s picture book, That’s Coola, Tallulah! is adorable as it is mischievous. This whimsical, wee tale of true friendship comes to dazzling life in Giulia Iacopini’s enchanting illustrations.

Disclosure: I received a digital copy of this book in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Again: Surviving Cancer Twice with Love and Lists

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“This no-nonsense debut memoir recalls Corrigan’s two-time battle with cancer and takes a pragmatic approach toward guiding other patients. Candid, sagacious writing on illness and adaptation.” –Kirkus Reviews

About Again: Surviving Cancer Twice with Love and Lists

A breast cancer diagnosis at forty-nine forces Christine Shields Corrigan, a wife, mom, and meticulous list-maker, to confront her deepest fears of illness, death, and loss of control as she struggles to face cancer again. From the discovery of a “junky” cyst, to chemotherapy and surgery, sleepless nights filled with rosaries and “what ifs,” and shifting family dynamics, her adult experience mirrors her teen bout with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, with one exception—she no longer has parents keeping her in the dark.

With the ghosts of cancer past hovering around her, Chris falls into the same overprotective traps her taciturn Irish-Catholic parents created, striving to keep her family’s life “normal,” when it is anything but, and soldiering through on her own, until a neighbor’s unexpected advice and gift move her to accept others’ help. With fierce honesty, poignant reflection, and good humor, Chris shares a journey filled with sorrow, grace, forgiveness, and resilience, as she winds her way through cancer for the second time. Again offers practical guidance and hope to individuals that they have the strength to forge a path beyond a diagnosis.

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon, B&N, BAM, Book Depository and Indiebound.

About the Author

Christine Shields Corrigan is a two-time cancer survivor, wife, mom, and author of Again: Surviving Cancer Twice with Love and Lists . In addition to Again , Chris has published a number of lyrical and practical essays where she gives voice to the beautiful ordinary. Her work about family, illness, writing, and resilient survivorship has appeared in anthologies, magazines, and other publications including, The Brevity Blog, Grown & Flown, Horn Pond Review, The Potato Soup Journal and Anthology, Purple Clover, Ravishly.com, Wildfire Magazine, and the Writer’s Circle 2 Anthology.

Chris’ essay, “Not Back to But Forward,” about how her cancer experiences helped her cope with COVID-19 is included in (Her)oics: Women’s Lived Experiences During the COVID-19 Pandemic (edited by Joanell Serra and Amy Roost), an anthology that draws together the stories of 52 women across the US during the Covid-19 pandemic (March 2021). A graduate of Manhattan College and Fordham University School of Law, Chris built a successful career as a labor and employment law attorney and as a legal writer and editor. After surviving cancer in midlife, Chris became a freelance writer. She also teaches creative nonfiction writing for an adult education program, provides writing workshops for cancer support groups, and is the chair of the programming committee of the Morristown Festival of Books. She lives in New Jersey with her family.

You can connect with her on her website, Twitter and Facebook.

The Giveaway!

AGAIN: Surviving Cancer Twice with Love and Lists Book Tour Giveaway

Disclosure: This is a spotlight tour, I did not receive compensation for this post. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Pennies from Heaven Spotlight Tour

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Pennies from Heaven teaches children that they are never too young to do great things for God.

About Pennies from Heaven

Based on the true-life events that led Koedi Nealy to start changing lives one penny at a time at the age of seven, “Pennies from Heaven” teaches children that they are never too young to do great things for God. Koedi’s journey culminated in forming a non-profit that currently serves the homeless population in Houston, Texas, helping the most overlooked and undervalued people in the community.

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon.

About the Author

A native of Houston, Texas, Koedi Nealy is a senior at Cypress Christian School. She received her local minister’s license at the age of sixteen and is an active member of her school and community, holding leadership roles in various sports, drama, praise and worship groups, Thespian Society, and National Honor Society. She is the founder and president of Graced Ministry. She has not let dyslexia define or deter her as she advocates for others with learning differences through the NILD programing year.

You can connect with her on her website and Facebook.

The Giveaway

Koedi Nealy’s PENNIES FROM HEAVEN Book Tour Giveaway

Disclosure: This is a spotlight tour and I did not receive compensation for this post. All opinions expressed are my own.

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