5 Minutes for Books — Trail of Crumbs

by Jennifer Donovan

Memoir is a fairly new genre for me. If you’ve never read it, but you enjoy character-driven novels, you might enjoy reading “creative nonfiction” as it’s called. This week I’m reviewing (and giving away five copies) of a memoir called Trail of Crumbs.

A place and its people are often linked to its food. What I miss most about my Texas roots is the Tex-Mex and the barbecue.I long for the spicy Thai food so abundant in the Pacific Northwest that I enjoyed when we lived there. In my New England home, pizza has transcended the frozen disk or a chain delivery standard to which I had become accustomed.

In Trail of Crumbs: Hunger, Love and the Search for Home (January 2008, Grand Central Publishing) food writer Kim Sunee’s self-discovery simmers as she embraces different cultures and cuisine. Her story begins as an abandoned child in an orphanage in Korea, takes her to her adoptive family’s home in New Orleans.

As a child living in New Orleans, she struggled to fit in with her white classmates, buttrail-of-crumbs.JPG found comfort in the kitchen at her grandfather’s side as he stirred up red beans and rice, jambalaya and other Cajun specialties. As a student, she lived in Paris and Sweden and quickly picked up the language and cuisine of those countries as well, using the food as a means of finding her way in the culture.

Falling in love with the founder of L’Occitane, Olivier Baussan, brings her to his home in Provence, where she should be happy, yet slips deeper into self-doubt. She is unsure of her ability to live up to the role of step-mother, hostess and lady of the house. Although the story is compelling and her experiences are interesting, I began to feel that as an author, she felt detached from her own life story. Then it hit me that, whether intentional or not, this is an incredible literary device and does serve to advance the plot of her “search for home.”

“I want to know everything about you. No secrets between us, okay?”

I nod, knowing this is impossible. How can he know everything about me, when I don’t even know myself?

Food is a supporting character throughout this novel, so as I read I found myself wanting to nosh–not on popcorn and Oreos, but to graze on soft cheeses and fresh seasonal fruit. Since none of those things are in my American cabinet, I was safe. However, each chapter ends with a few recipes that you can try on your own if you wish.

Because these types of stories are of a person’s real-life journey, there is no simple wrapped-up ending. One of the marks of a good memoir is that it leaves me wanting more. If I passed Kim Sunee on the street, I’d want to look her in the eye and see that she’s okay–that she’s happy and whole.  I have a feeling that she might be.

To enter to win one of five giveaway copies, please leave a comment. If you’d like, tell me if you are new to memoir or the title of one that you’ve enjoyed.

The winners of Laura Zigman’s Piece of Work are

#64 Christi
#56 Shelly
#132 Samantha Pruitt

Please look for an email from me requesting your address.



Email Author    |    Website About Jennifer Donovan

Jennifer Donovan has been a part of the 5 Minutes for Mom team since 2007. She writes product reviews, covers events, and manages the 5 Minutes for Books weekly column and website. She lives in Houston and blogs at Snapshot about life with her family.

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{ 104 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Tara Robertson January 21, 2008 at 12:24 am

I’d love to win this! I’m new to memoir.

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2 Lori January 21, 2008 at 12:44 am

I’m a newbie as well and would love to win:)

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3 Celeste January 21, 2008 at 12:55 am

Sounds intriguing!

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4 Cindi Hoppes January 21, 2008 at 1:09 am

Hi, Sounds like a wonderful book to me. It reminds me of my husband’s family. His sister is Thai/American, a child of the Vietnam War. My husband’s dad adopted her from her mother who was selling her on the street. She was very ill with infantigo and almost died. His sister has always had trouble fitting in no matter where the Air Force sent them! Please sign me up for this memoir. I would love to give it to my sister-in-law. Thanks very much…..Cindi

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5 Jocelyn G. January 21, 2008 at 1:13 am

Sounds interesting. Sign me up.

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6 NerdMom January 21, 2008 at 1:32 am

This sounds so perfect for me. I love reading and cooking;). Seriously, it sounds heart touching and I would love it.

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7 Mamacheryl January 21, 2008 at 8:11 am

I’m definitely in the mood for a book like this. Since my husband and I changed our lifestyles to ones that are health-driven, I’ve become obsessed with food… exploring food and learning about food and experiencing food in a way I never did back in the drive-through days.

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8 Maria January 21, 2008 at 8:14 am

I’d love to win this one!! I am new to memoir – but absolutely love food related reading… I read cookbooks

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9 Beth/Mom2TwoVikings January 21, 2008 at 8:27 am

I love memoirs! Sounds like fun!

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10 Susan January 21, 2008 at 8:57 am

This sounds wonderful! I am new to memoirs, although I have loved many biographies. One of my favorites is Camille Claudel… I also spent some time after college living in Paris, and so the idea of experiencing different cultures and finding one’s way through food has always intrigued me.

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11 ayla January 21, 2008 at 9:07 am

I’ve been doing lots of reading since my son was born, since it’s hard for me to nurse at the keyboard. I’ve decided to try branching out into new genres of books besides my usual fantasy/sci fi or romance staples. I’d love a copy of this book.

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12 Shannon January 21, 2008 at 9:20 am

count me in!

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13 Racheal January 21, 2008 at 9:25 am

wanna win too

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14 jennifer January 21, 2008 at 9:32 am

I am always looking for a good book. Thanks. Count me in too.

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15 Amy January 21, 2008 at 9:38 am

I would love to read and review.
Thanks!

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16 Melissa Markham January 21, 2008 at 9:47 am

This sounds like a wonderful book and different from anything I have read before.

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17 amydeanne January 21, 2008 at 9:50 am

new to memoir! but sounds interesting! i’d love to win one!

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18 Teresa Hoyt January 21, 2008 at 9:55 am

Toss me in the mix please!

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19 Heather January 21, 2008 at 10:23 am

I love a new book!

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20 Heidi January 21, 2008 at 10:30 am

I’ve read a few memoirs. Currently, I’m reading “The Hidden Place”~ a memoir. This one looks good. I have 2 Korean-born brothers.

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21 Debbie January 21, 2008 at 10:40 am

I’m intrigued and would love a new read!

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22 Michelle January 21, 2008 at 10:41 am

Oh the book sounds lovely. Does “Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert qualify as a memoir? If it does, I highly recommend it :)

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23 Michele January 21, 2008 at 10:59 am

Please enter me!

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24 Laura S. January 21, 2008 at 11:04 am

This sounds fascinating! I believe food is central to life and that it does more for us then keep us alive. I think it may affect us in ways we wouldn’t think of so I’d love to read this and see what it has to say. I’m new to memoirs but would love to try one!

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25 feefifoto January 21, 2008 at 11:21 am

This book sounds great. Memoir is a terrific genre.

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26 megan January 21, 2008 at 11:34 am

Sounds like a great read. Please enter me.

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27 Bebemiqui January 21, 2008 at 11:37 am

Sounds really good!! Best Memoir I’ve read lately was Anthony Bourdain’s book on his rise in the cooking world.

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28 Meg January 21, 2008 at 11:49 am

I’ve read some memoirs, but I can’t remember the exact titles right now! Must not have made a terribly big impression, huh? I’d love to read this one, though. :0)

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29 Forgetfulone January 21, 2008 at 12:02 pm

I don’t usually select memoirs, but this one sounds fascinating. Please enter me!

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30 Janine January 21, 2008 at 12:17 pm

I’m a memoir newbie. Would love to check it out– never met a good book I didn’t like. :)

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31 Shannon H January 21, 2008 at 12:26 pm

Enter me please. I just read A Walk with Jane Austen which is part-memoir:-)

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32 Natalie January 21, 2008 at 1:15 pm

I’d love a copy! :)

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33 Leigh Anne Wilkes January 21, 2008 at 1:33 pm

I love “foodie” books, food blogs, cookbooks,and food! I have read all of Ruth Reichl’s books about her love of food and life as a restaurant critic and love Julia Child’s book about her life in France and discovering food and learning to cook – “My Life in France”. I would love to read this one too!

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34 Naomi January 21, 2008 at 1:38 pm

I would love to read this. I haven’t read many contemporary memoirs.

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35 Laura K January 21, 2008 at 2:04 pm

This sounds interesting. Would like to know more about how she felt about these places.

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36 Patti January 21, 2008 at 2:13 pm

Looks like a great read!

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37 Linda Pinto January 21, 2008 at 2:36 pm

This sounds like a wonderful book.

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38 monica - books are our friends January 21, 2008 at 2:42 pm

Oh, I love a good memoir and can recommend several. Angela’s Ashes comes to mind, Through Painted Deserts, Girl Meets God, Eat,Pray, Love. Another food based memoir is Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.

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39 danandmarsh January 21, 2008 at 3:17 pm

Sounds like some interesting reading, count me in!!

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40 Julie M January 21, 2008 at 3:36 pm

Sounds great! Count me in!

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41 fan January 21, 2008 at 3:44 pm

I’ve read one memoir before called The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom it was scary and sad. I’d love to read this one.

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42 Amy R. January 21, 2008 at 3:58 pm

This sounds like a good book!

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43 Nancy January 21, 2008 at 4:13 pm

I’m new to memoir and would like to check it out.

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44 Bree January 21, 2008 at 4:46 pm

This sounds really interesting!

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45 Blessed January 21, 2008 at 5:00 pm

This sounds like a really interesting book, I would love to win it!

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46 The Well-Read Child January 21, 2008 at 5:12 pm

Sounds like a great book…I’d love to get my hands on a copy!

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47 Rachel January 21, 2008 at 5:35 pm

Memoirs are actually my favorite genre to read. The first one that comew to mind when I think of which have been my favorites is “The Glass Castle” by Jeannette Walls. I reread it again recently. I lent it to my sister who has never read memoirs and she loved it. “Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert is another good one that has been a bit hit recently. The next one on my list to get is “Dishwasher: One Man’s Quest to Wash Dishes in All Fifty States” by Pete Jordan. The guy wrote a zine for a while about his adventures traveling and working as a dishwasher, and I read and really enjoyed the issues I was able to get my hands on.

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48 Dodo O January 21, 2008 at 5:37 pm

Sounds great. Never read a memoir before, but I would love to start :)

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49 Shari January 21, 2008 at 5:57 pm

This sounds like a very interesting book! I just finished “The White Masaii” (a memoir) and I’m hooked to this style of writing. Thanks for entering me!

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50 laura January 21, 2008 at 6:02 pm

sounds wonderful…fingers crossed…

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51 Bhavana January 21, 2008 at 6:13 pm

Enter me please. Thanks!

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52 Tonya January 21, 2008 at 6:35 pm

I would be new to reading memoirs.

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53 Tiffany January 21, 2008 at 7:38 pm

I have not read a memoir before, but this definitely sounds interesting. Please enter me in the drawing!

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54 Katie M January 21, 2008 at 7:59 pm

I would enjoy reading this book. One book that I’ve enjoyed recently (that is not quite a memoir, but kinda…) is “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life”.

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55 Shaun Wallner January 21, 2008 at 8:03 pm

This sounds like a great book!!

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56 Corina Smith January 21, 2008 at 8:10 pm

this book sounds really good. :) Please enter me in the giveaway!

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57 Theresa N. January 21, 2008 at 8:18 pm

I’m a newbie and would love to read this book!!

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58 Jill January 21, 2008 at 8:49 pm

My favorite memoir is “Girl Meets God” by Lauren Winner. I can’t say enough good about that book. I also enjoyed “The Glass Castle” but it is very, very sad.

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59 Brooke January 21, 2008 at 9:01 pm

I go through long stretches where I LOVE memoirs. I just finished “LOOK ME IN THE EYE” – Augusten Bourroughs brothers’ memoir.

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60 Susanne January 21, 2008 at 9:10 pm

I am a newbie, but just working on the time for it all!! Thanks!!

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61 Christi January 21, 2008 at 9:26 pm

This sounds like something I would really like! I think that the best memoir I’ve read lately was Paper Daughter.

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62 artsweet January 21, 2008 at 10:03 pm

I recently read Barack Obama’s memoir, which was very moving. I’m interested in this one because my son came to us through international adoption

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63 Taryn January 21, 2008 at 10:11 pm

I don’t think I’ve ever read a memoir before.

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64 Anita Yancey January 21, 2008 at 10:17 pm

A good read. Please enter me.

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65 Patricia S January 21, 2008 at 10:23 pm

new to memoir thanks

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66 Wendy January 21, 2008 at 11:20 pm

I would love to win this:)

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67 Karin January 21, 2008 at 11:31 pm

Please enter me in your giveaway. Love to read! Thank you!

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68 Marlene Rugg January 21, 2008 at 11:38 pm

Would love to win this wonderful book am new to memior!

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69 mymommymy January 22, 2008 at 1:27 am

I would LOVE to win this!! always love a good read!!

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70 Angela January 22, 2008 at 2:55 am

I would love to win a copy!

I’ll add you to the links
http://www.prizeatron.com

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71 ES January 22, 2008 at 5:05 am

Sounds great!

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72 Corrine January 22, 2008 at 8:35 am

make me want to put the kids in the car and go to the library and stop by central market to pick up some fresh bread and some fun exotic cheese, drop the kids off at a sitter and sit by the fire and read! I’d love a copy…but more than anything I look forward to reading this book

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73 Ann Knowles January 22, 2008 at 9:36 am

I am new to this genre and to this website. The book sounds very interesting and I would love to read it.

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74 Vida January 22, 2008 at 10:01 am

I’m new to memoir, and I’d love to win.

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75 Patricia Simpkin January 22, 2008 at 11:28 am

I’d love to win this book.

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76 Erin January 22, 2008 at 11:34 am

I’d love to win!

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77 Susan Chester January 22, 2008 at 12:26 pm

Oh this sounds wonderful. I love food books.

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78 Kathy Conley January 22, 2008 at 3:01 pm

I am new to memoir but I am intrigued now

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79 Vicki Wurgler January 22, 2008 at 6:11 pm

sounds like a very interesting story

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80 John MacDonald January 22, 2008 at 7:00 pm

Sounds very interesting. Sign me up!

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81 Shelly January 22, 2008 at 7:18 pm

This sounds interesting. I am pretty new to memoir – other than Angela’s Ashes.

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82 Kristina January 22, 2008 at 7:37 pm

Sounds like a great read! One I wouldn’t want to put down! I would love to win and read this book!

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83 Nikki Evans January 22, 2008 at 8:32 pm

Thanks for offering and considering me for this prize!!!

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84 Paula McClement January 22, 2008 at 9:19 pm

I’d love to win!!!!!!!

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85 Lisa Oguin January 22, 2008 at 11:23 pm

This sounds like a great book.

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86 Edward Durbin January 23, 2008 at 12:12 am

As I battle the Flu for the 2nd time this year…I hope all of you stay well and have a great New Year…

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87 Karen Matlock January 23, 2008 at 10:25 am

please enter me!

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88 Beth January 24, 2008 at 12:45 am

I’m relatively new to memoir. I just read “Left to Tell” by Immaculee Ilibagiza. Well worth the time!

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89 Becca January 24, 2008 at 2:07 am

My Mom would love this!

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90 rachel January 24, 2008 at 9:21 am

I’ve fallen in love with some wonderful memoirs lately myself. and food memoirs are the best! I’d love to read it!

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91 Shannon B. January 24, 2008 at 9:24 am

I am relatively new to memoirs but I have read a couple. This one sounds good too!

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92 AmandaA January 24, 2008 at 9:41 pm

please enter me thanks

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93 Colleen Palat January 24, 2008 at 9:46 pm

This book sounds wonderful. Please count me in! :)

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94 Pamela White January 26, 2008 at 2:52 am

Sounds great

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95 Fruitbearer January 26, 2008 at 6:09 pm

Please count me in. Thanks!

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96 philip halter January 26, 2008 at 8:08 pm

enter me please

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97 Laura January 26, 2008 at 11:36 pm

Count me in please. Sounds interesting!

I blogged your contest on this post:

http://laurawilliamsmusings.blogspot.com/2008/01/sunday-120-edition-of-contest-galore.html

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98 Nina January 26, 2008 at 11:46 pm

I’d love to win this… thanks!

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99 Samantha Pruitt January 27, 2008 at 3:19 am

great giveaway!

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100 Sylvia Porter January 27, 2008 at 4:39 am

sounds like a great read!

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101 Jeffrey G January 27, 2008 at 5:21 am

Thank you for having such a great giveaway!

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102 AnneMarie DeRemer January 27, 2008 at 9:12 pm

Love to read this!!

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103 Heather C January 27, 2008 at 11:14 pm

Sounds like an interesting read.

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104 Charlene Kuser January 28, 2008 at 1:10 am

Would love to win this one,I love books relating
to different cultures

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