The Witness

You w****, a girl behind her said. The witness glanced over her shoulder; the girl’s mother shrunk from the teenager’s accusations behind the cashier’s belt, a small pile of undergarments cluttering it.

The witness’s knuckles tightened around her scanner, forcing her concentration onto her own screen.

You’re such a ***, the girl continued to her mother. Do you see what she’s buying, everyone? She’s damn near 50, and she’s dressing like a s***!

The witness’s jaw clenched. The cashiering lines lengthened.

The girl gave up the taunting of her mother. She unscrewed a two-liter bottle of Mountain Dew, and proceeded to dump the majority of its contents down the throat of her mother’s infant. Hahaha, look at me, I don’t care if she gets rotten teeth, the girl taunted.

The infant screamed, sobbed.

The mother said nothing.

The witness had visions of telling the girl off. Of threatening to call child services to report.

Of landing a blow to the smug, taunting face.

The witness did nothing, right then and there. Social propriety and store conduct demanded it of her, and she had no choice but to oblige.

It was in this matter, then, that the bizarre little family’s fate had been decided.

When they had left the store, the witness told a manager.

Impatience

Push,

Push,

Push,

Hurry and rush,

Speeding out the

Door

With such a big fuss;

Key in,

Pedal to the

Floor,

It’s off to serve

The rat races

As we cry,

“Quicker, faster, more.”

What we tend

To sacrifice

Leads not to others’

Consideration,

But yet

It may mean

Deprivation

Of something else.

/

“Haste makes waste,” if that is

True enough,

Why the need for speed?

To go with the

Flow

And suck it up?

Barely known is an adult

Who cannot wait

Only three seconds to

Three minutes–

Is it society’s fault?

We want convenience over

Quality,

We bicker and stomp,

There are those who do not

Act their age,

While the youngers

Tend to

More playfully

Romp.

/

If we had

slowed down

time

whilst still spinning,

would we spend

More

laughing and grinning?

Shalom

The world awaits

In restless slumber

The quietness

Drowned

By increasing and

Ever-pounding

Thunder

A new season has

Begun,

Old issues remain, but

New ones

Have yet to be

Sprung.

The pressure building

O’er all the Earth,

But the ground

Has yet

To give birth

To

Complete and

Utter

Chaos.

Ring of fire, a ticking

Timebomb,

Earth has yet to

Explode,

But given God’s

Grace

The pace hath been

Slow’d.

Stilled from

Restlessness,

The weary Earth sleeps

Under Heaven’s

Purest blanket–

May love and peace we keep.

Confession

Dear Readers,

In case my last update wasn’t obvious, I’m sure most of you have realized by now that I’m often inconsistent with my postings, when I say I’ll post, and that I frequently apologize for this erratic behavior.

I often say I’m preoccupied or busy, which, while often true (it was in the case of me quarantining), is not the whole truth. The bigger truth is more mixed–I’ve not only been fighting some mental/emotional health battles, but as of late, I’ve come to realize I’ve become spiritually ill, something I suspect came about after I neglected getting into God’s Word, among other things.

I also have been struggling with the idea of what to do with my blog. As previously mentioned, I do want to make this a safe haven for believers to discuss and “nerd out” over literature, but also go deeper with analyzing and discerning it, identifying unhealthy worldviews that might negatively clash with a Biblical Worldview and how to address them. I’ve been on the fence for a while about how to go about starting and addressing the issue as a whole and executing the idea, though; I’m good at coming up with ideas, not great at executing them or making concrete, realistic goals. It’s an area I definitely need work in, and as a side note, I appreciate any advice or helps with this struggle. I plan on getting an app or accountability thing so I know I’m doing at least a post a week on here, and I’ll try to be more informative about when I post.

I love you guys, and know that I’m praying for you during these times. I greatly appreciate any understanding and patience on your part.

In Christ,

Rose O. Stahl

( blog pen name)

Falling

Down

Down

Into a dark

Hole

Deep inside

Limitless space

Overwhelming infinity

Lost

More than

An astronaut

No compass, no

Map, no navi,

No track.

How do I keep going

Straight? I must

Be flying

But soaring towards

The bottom

Because

There’s a lack

Of trying.

Down down

Until I

Reach

Bottom Rock

It’s only

Then

I bounce back

Up,

From Bottom to Top

Serendipitous Spies and Perilous Partners: Atomic Love Book Review

Hello, fellow bloggers and bookworms! 🙂 Apologies for the one-day-late post.

It’s tough to find good stories some days, and it can be even more daunting to find a piece of fiction without even an ounce of romance. That being said, most times where it’s a mixed genre book, I can ignore the romance unless it’s overpowering, like the scent of a particular perfume. I’m currently making a blog post on why I personally don’t care for romantic fiction, or something extremely heavy or overly dramatic in the romance category (i.e., the Twilight franchise), and nine times out of ten would prefer to review almost anything else.

Atomic Love wasn’t QUITE overpowering, but it had a very strong romantic scent lingering throughout, making it challenging to disentangle it from the main plot, which was set in/shortly after World War II. It floundered a bit, sometimes being unable to tell actual romantic love from physical love, which was one of my main critiques.

Things to Know:

Mandatory gay friend side character. Aside from this overused stereotype, though, I liked Zeke and his personality a good bit. Good-natured, friendly, funny guy.

Sexual tension in a dramatic “love triangle trope,” and several instances of characters lovemaking (not too graphically, but enough explicitness that there needs to be at least a PG-15 label if not R on this book, it leaves little to the imagination)

Many, many instances of characters swearing by profaning Jesus’s and Yahweh’s Names

Characters torn between faith and science, some turning their backs on God

Some minor graphic violence towards the end

SPOILER WARNING AHEAD

Summary: Rosalind Porter is an anomaly in her day and age– a female physicist working on the Manhattan Project and in her dramatic love affair with her colleague, Weaver. Five years later, feeling heartbroken about her break-up with Weaver and guilty about playing her part in the project and causing so many deaths, she reluctantly resigns herself to a more mundane life. Yet when Weaver tries to get back in touch, the FBI does, too– and they want to know if Weaver’s really a spy selling bomb secrets to Russians. But does she still have affections for Weaver? How could she betray him? And what about her increasing attraction to equally-past-haunted former POW FBI agent Charlie Szydlo?

Liked: The spy stuff, the behind-the-scenes things with that, although betting some were probably exaggerated/dramatized for the sake of novelization. I would have loved to hear more about Charlie’s life as an FBI agent, although I get why his past was important– it was an important romantic connector to Rosalyn, who was equally traumatized by her own past (hurting or traumatized people seem instinctively drawn to each other, simply because they can relate). I wanted more on that process, as well as more on what Rosalyn did with the bomb before she gave up everything to become a jewelry salesperson. Speaking of which, I did really like Rosalyn’s outlook on life, when it came to hurting people and “secondhand things,”– she saw the hidden value of the used, the broken, the hurting, and would often treasure those experiences as being precious or important. She didn’t see a much-loved pre-owned necklace as something to be ashamed of buying (arguing it gave it more value, since the owner reluctantly gave it up), and loved Charlie in spite of his severely injured hand (whereas his former fiancee rejected him because of it). I also loved her relationship with her family, as complex and nuanced as it was. I related to her relationship with her sister, even though I don’t have a sister, and enjoyed reading about her relationships with her niece and her brother-in-law. Charlie himself was so chivalrous and patient with her during the investigation, and was just chivalrous overall, as a character, yet it didn’t make him flatter as a character; it rounded him out a bit, if anything.

Finally, Ms. Fields’s prose was quite beautiful; it breathed life into the world. 🙂

What Could Have Been Improved: Some of the romantic expectations, aspects, and relationships were portrayed unrealistically. (While I could go into that now, I’ll save that topic for a later date 😉 ) I hated how a ridiculous degree of her relationship with Weaver was simply lovemaking, I’ve found that that physical connection often makes the person confused about their feelings if they break things off, in a relationship, because in nature it’s supposed to be a deeper (emotional, even spiritual) connection than that. I get that the connection was used as a plot device, in a way, to ensure her partial fealty to Weaver, and thus not tell the FBI ALL of the information, but it still felt lacking.

The classic “fall in love with an agent” trope here felt cliched and unrealistic, too. Rosalyn can’t view an intelligent, thoughtful man as merely a coworker, but only a potential attraction? Men are people, too, it doesn’t mean you need to fall for each decent guy you meet at the drop of a hat. I get that Charlie was too afraid to try to love again, and Rosalyn’s love was his “saving grace,” so as to speak, but… that kind of thing gets old pretty fast.

The characters had the smallest inkling of what True Love actually was, but unfortunately they would always make a U-turn right before they could get to agape love, and would drive back into pure romantic love, physical love, and emotional angst. The book wasn’t even as much about spies as it was about relationships.

Speaking of spies, one big “twist” was actually pretty obvious. 😉

My Rating: 3.3 stars, for an evened-out score. Better than “just ok,” but not a great or jaw-dropping book. The characters looking for Love didn’t quite find it, and put too much stock into the ever-individualist, “I am what I do, what I do is who I am.” (spoiler alert for life: that’s not true, and you should never find your identity in what it is that you do. Hey, that rhymed! 🙂 )

Quick Updates for Feb 2021!

Hello, friends!

In light of everything else happening (I’m fully aware of how behind I’ve been in sending out reviews), I’m currently in temporary self-quarantine due to being tested for the notorious COVID-19 (results to be given on Monday or Tuesday, so stay tuned), so hopefully that’ll mean I’ll be able to review more… I’m hoping that I’ll be able to do at least one per week. In the meantime, I’ll be reviewing Atomic Love tomorrow, and updating my old list with links to reviews I did of some of my 2020 reads.

Unfortunately, being that my copies of Waves of Mercy and Legacy of Mercy are copies on loan from my church library, I don’t want to currently handle them, read them, or even try to return them on the chance that I test positive (it’s a tricky situation… :/ ), so I’m going to play it safe, and read them a bit later, when I’ve outlasted COVID for a while(there are many, many older people in my church who take out books from our library).

In any case, I hope to wrap up my Thrawn audiobook in a few days (if it was not deleted– I share an Audible with my mother) and add that to my reviews, too. Some other books I’ll be reading (and occasionally reviewing) in February will hopefully include:

  1. Battlefield of the Mind by Joyce Meyer–Ms. Meyer offers help to address thoughts, worries, doubts, and more that plague our minds and can challenge the Christian faith.
  2. *The Girl with The Louding Voice by Abi Dare–A young Nigerian woman growing up in an impoverished country village dreams of getting her own education so she can find her “louding voice,” and speak up for herself.
  3. *Knowing God by J.I. Packer–a classic evangelical Christian book held in high regard by many, Packer emphasizes on how and why we know God, His attributes (personality and characteristics), and the benefits of drawing near to Him and enjoying a relationship with our Creator.
  4. *Legendborn by Tracy Deonn–a young woman unlocks mysterious powers after a traumatic event and has to decide whether she’s in to join the magical fight.
  5. Delighting in the Trinity: An Introduction to the Christian Faith by Michael Reeves–A fantastic throwback read to my college days in my BIB 300 class on worldviews (Biblical and nonbiblical), and recently recommended by one of my favorite theologians, one Ms. Phylicia Masonheimer, I decided it was time to brush up on some of my theological reading… 😉
  6. *Hidden Worldviews: Eight Cultural Stories That Shape Our Lives by Steve Wilkens–Another throwback I wanted to reread from BIB 300, Wilkens takes the why and the how on what we do, what we believe, what we read, how we vote, etc, much more deeply than most people do, analyzing secular ideology influencing us and even our faith via lifestyles, cultural habits, and institutional structures in society. This was a book I remember loving, and it’s helped me critique books a bit better (although I’ve certainly grown rusty). In fact, I used it to write my worldview analysis on the original Grishaverse trilogy, the Shadow and Bone Trilogy, both critiquing and praising it at times (which is how I got my Bible professor friend, of all people, to read and love the series! Hahaha), which I’ve actually considered sharing here, right on my blog! 🙂 Let me know what you think!

(Asterisks indicate which books I will be reviewing)

Additionally, I wanted to say that some of you have truly inspired me, and gotten me thinking about what I want to do with this blog– and I think I’ve figured it out.

Since most bookish blogs, Bookstagrams, etc, especially in the YA (Young Adult) area, tend to lean heavily secular and heavily progressive, I couldn’t help thinking, at first– that’s not right… if they want representation, where are all the Christian reviewers? Where are all the conservative Bookstagrammers? And for heaven’s sakes where are both when it comes to reading, writing, and critiquing fiction?

While anyone thoughtful is welcome to my blog, to read and respectfully comment, I want my blog to also be a safe haven for those kinds of bloggers– conservatives and/or Christians who can get together and have deep, soul-touching conversations and critiques on what this piece of literature means, or what do you think this theme/motif represents for the author, etc (spoiler warnings included, of course). Above all, where that is concerned, I want to help promote mindful, theological-and-worldview-discerning reading— don’t just turn off your brain cells as you read (or even watch movies/shows!)! I want to foster a community like that who is willing to go deeper, discern more, and trust God in the process of finding and using appropriate wisdom with stories. (That’s another reason I decided to reread Hidden Worldviews— there are a TON in fiction!) Whether you’re just passing through my blog or would like to linger, I welcome you warmly, if you would like to join me. 🙂 (Some of you might be thinking, “Hey, that’s like “PluggedIn”! Yes, it’s a similar concept, but I’d like to go much deeper with analyzing things.)

What books are you tackling, reviewing, or critiquing this month? Have you read any on my list? Feel free to share your thoughts below in the comments!

Child of the Stars: A “Star Daughter” Book Review

Hello, everyone!

Disclaimer: It’s no secret to some of my social media followers that I love stars and star-based characters. No, I’m obviously not into things like astrology or horoscopes, but starry, elven-esque characters in general fascinate me. Just ask an author who helped boost this love of starborn characters, Ms. Sarah Delena White, author of The Star-Fae Trilogy, or better yet, Casimir the misunderstood but utterly brilliant (pun intended) Solasa (star-fae), who I helped broadcast into STARdom, being his favorite minion and head of Team Solasa on Earth and all. 😉

Okay, enough with the astral puns. (Although, Casimir really is the star of his show, haha…)

Lately, I’ve been just as intrigued by the elven starpeople, the Startouch Elves of Xadia in the franchise, The Dragon Prince. (It curdles me inside every time I hear, “Startouch,” and I need to resist the urge to grab said person, shake them like a crazy lady, and yell, “It’s Star-FAE!!”) The only Startouch elf we’ve actually seen so far in the series is the enigmatic, charismatic, notoriously psycho sparkle, Aaravos (who is a “special bundle of special” if I ever saw one…), who seems pretty insidious in regards to other characters and the overall storyline, but I’m looking forward more to learning more about other star-fa– sorry, STARTOUCH– elves, as well as their mystical, exquisite and elaborate, big-picture culture. What was the life of other Startouch elves like, being that they were distanced from Xadia? Where did they live? How did they function up in their starry space, as a society? Unique skills or pets? How did they view Aaravos’s actions, and if they disapproved, did they consider intervening (or if they did intervene, is that why none are left– did he purposely wipe out the rest of his kind??)?

It should be clear by now that I’m not obsessed with things like the mythological constellations themselves, but more of the star people they influence, and the ethereal cultures they leave behind.

So when I saw Star Daughter by Shveta Thakrar in former Book of the Month’s YA selection, I absolutely didn’t hesitate, regardless of me not knowing all the character or plot details. All I could think was, “A book about a child born of the stars? A daughter of a star-person? SIGN. ME. UP.”

Little did I know what I was going to get into.

SPOILER WARNING: PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK

Things to Know:

Hindu mythology, deities mentioned briefly, here and there

Hindu terminology, you may need to Google things (I did)

Minor sexual tension in certain passages

Some LGBTQ+ rep (the MC’s bestie is either bi or lesbian; two of the MC’s competitors are gay)

Trigger warning: Anxiety and panic attacks

Summary: Sheetal is half-mortal, half-star (kind of like a star version of a dhampir, if you will), and struggles to fit in with mortals below on Earth. As a result, one day she is triggered by extreme stress, accidentally flaring her powers to life and harshly burning her father with her star’s fire, landing him in the ER in critical condition. Left with little alternative, Sheetal finally answers the call of her maternal side’s starry host, and ascends to the heavens with her BFF Minal in tow, determined to get a drop of pure star’s blood in order to heal her dad. But as she soon learns, nothing comes without a cost, in the heavens or on Earth.

Liked: Wonderfully descriptive. For some reason, I thought this book would be a teaser book, dangling the carrot of visiting the stars’ heavenly realms up above before cruelly snatching it away and letting us remain on Earth (I think my main subconscious reasoning behind this was that I was halfway through the 400+ book and we were still on Earth…). But I was soon rewarded for my patience with glorious details of sky palaces, a Hall of Mirrors, heavenly libraries and an ethereal people. It was magical, and I absolutely wanted more. More culture, more worldbuilding, just… all of it. I could drink her descriptions of the places; they almost felt concrete.

Speaking of descriptive places, let’s discuss the wonderful Night Market. It heavily reminded me of the spirit’s market in Studio Ghibli’s infamous Spirited Away, maybe fused with some of Diagon Alley from Harry Potter? It was like a Hindu version, though, and magic seeped through EVERYTHING. Shveta was so creative in all the details and showing, not just outright TELLING, all the cool things you could find in this bizarre, well, bazaar. Magical clothing? Check. Unique couches? Check. Unusually flavored magic ice cream? Check. Sentient cumulonimbus cloud barretts? Check, check, check! I would’ve LOVED to hang out more, and explore more, of this fantastical place that seemed between the physical and spiritual worlds, although I get why Sheetal was in a rush to get to her sky family. I just wished we could have lingered a bit more; it was great. I wanted to go out and visit, myself!

What could have been improved: For starters, a glossary. I’m not fully aware who Shveta’s group or target audience was– I suspect Indians or Indian-Americans, no offense intended– but there was a lot of terminology and Hindu words I did not understand, and had to constantly look up, even for foods (but especially for things like sayings or mythological creatures that aren’t common)! A brief glossary in the back with brief definitions/descriptions would’ve been more than enough to help readers unfamiliar with that world, language, culture, or context; even a few minor footnotes on translation would’ve been okay.

That as an aside, the story. I had very mixed feelings on Sheetal. She acted somewhat inconsistently; there were times she was selfish and shallow (especially in regards to how she looked, those were her biggest “problems” on Earth, aside from ignoring her star family, until her dad got hurt), but the author surprised me in having Sheetal make some startlingly mature decisions for her age, such as some honest discernment when it came to guys (she was accurate in how she portrayed those raging hormones!). I get that Sheetal’s a kind of moody teen, but the transition could’ve been a bit better. There were times it felt slightly jarring or out-of-place, although the author kept her emotions appropriately measured, most of the time, depending on the scenario.

Speaking of characters, the story’s resolution in and of itself felt unrealistic and shaky. Jeet could have easily been more of a threat (why DID he want Dev to meet Sheetal again? Oh yeah to uproot the competition, which fell pretty much over-the-top flat and went unaddressed), but his role was diminished to being SPOILER’S pawn. And SPOILER herself? She was a petty, vengeful star who wanted to SPOILER, but ended up just mwahaha-ing, and “oh I revealed this info, I’m good now,” and backing away mysteriously into the crowd, as though it was fine and wouldn’t fall back on her. And what about Nani and Chaurmati (I don’t know if I spelled that right?) and their potentially harmful goals? Are we just going to dismiss those issues, too?

For all of its exotic and illustrious worldbuilding, the characters and their goals, particularly the villains, perceived and non-perceived, tend to fall flat on their faces and remain to be seen or resolved, never addressed again. Oh and Sheetal’s happy with her new boyfriend and her healed Dad, so that’s good– never mind that stars may want to either SPOILERS with the human race or SPOILERS humans. It’s like the book can’t quite make up its mind.

My rating: For all the intense worldbuilding, I’m giving this outwardly beautiful book a solid 2.5 stars, or an”ok-ish rating,” but it really, really needs more work… and maybe a sequel, to delve into and address some of these concerns.

From the Flames– A Fireborne Book Review

Hello, friends! Apologies for the very, very late posts (then again, what else from a Perceiving type? …I say that in jest, mind. 😉 ), some personal things have come up as of late, but since I started Star Daughter, Fireborne, and Thrawn: Ascendancy BEFORE the end of 2020, I’m counting them as 2020 reads, albeit unofficially. Once I finish posting the next few, I’ll include links to my last updates post so you can access all my latest reviews from there! We’ll go in swinging with a few Lynn Austin reads then, and kick off 2021 from there. Happy New Year! 🙂

Phew! 2020 was something of a wild ride, wasn’t it? The shutdowns, the pandemic, the fear and occasional fear-mongering, the protests, the election, just… everything. (I’m exhausted even thinking about these next few years to come, too, to be honest.) I thought it might be good to take a break from some of that to focus on something more well-liked… bookies and book reviews!

2019-2020 had some fiery reads already inspired by the likes of political schemers and revolutionaries, as well as those by the infamous The Hunger Games series and Roman names/influences (the irony of today’s situation is not lost on me– God has a sense of ironic humor). One of these books was a fire-breathing debut from budding author Rosaria Munda, something of a mash-up between The Hunger Games and Harry Potter, Orwell’s Animal Farm (you’ll get the reference by the end) and Game of Thrones. (Or so I’m told, since I haven’t read that last one– because dragons, apparently.)

Things to Know:

Grey gov’t morality, makes it difficult to discern who’s really the “bad guy” (if the author had a point to make about all humans being flawed, I think she made it)

Some sparse, minor swearing towards the end of the book (most swearing is “dragons,” or “so and so swore”)

Implicit sexual scenes; i.e., “characters are in a bed together,” “characters push up together,” but no details are given and are certainly not graphic. Easy to skip over without missing any important information.

Minors partaking in some carousing and alcohol at pubs, etc.

Some graphic/fantasy violence, and some animal cruelty

Summary: Two lives intertwined by fate, Annie’s and Lee’s, after a devastating revolution deals damage both to the older triarchy and to the average denizens. Annie was forced to watch a dragonlord incinerate her lowborn family alive, while her close friend and fellow orphan Lee hides an even darker secret– he is actually Leo, youngest son of executed dragonlord Leon Stormscourge. As teens duke it out in a dragon tournament to determine who is worthy enough to hold the title of Firstrider, head of the dragon squad of their country’s military, rebellion against the former revolutionaries stirs, and you get the feeling the former revolutionaries themselves may be a mite shady… When lines are drawn and crossed, will Annie and Lee be loyal to their birth families, or their chosen sides?

Liked: The character arcs and character building was the primary focus of the author, and overall it was pretty well done. Lee, Annie, Duck, Power, Atreus, Crissa, Rock, etc, were all almost breathable characters, well-rounded and complex, and sometimes with mixed motivations.

It was hard to tell which side was the “right” side to be on, even from the get-go, as both the dragonlords and revolutionaries had serious issues that needed addressed. But it certainly made for interesting storytelling, morally grey characters, and conflict in the story. In part over the draggos– sorry, dragons–and their riders; whether lowborns or even girls should be allowed to ride/take part in trying for the dragon part of the military. There were interesting perspectives on both sides, since both the more modern dragonlords-by-blood and the revolutionaries were actually in agreement on that, albeit for different reasons.

Speaking of dragons, this is an area I wish Ms. Munda would’ve lingered in a bit. I loved the realistic bits about forging the connections with the dragons right from the beginning to how it affected training and working with them, the spillovers and how they worked, them realistically reacting to other dragons in the area, etc. I wanted more of that, more of the bond, and even more descriptions of the draggos. Maybe even a little index with pictures, to give readers a better idea, but I don’t know if that would be asking for too much.

I could tell where there were bits of Harry Potter-esque world-building, and mostly appreciated this; the tournaments faintly recalled the Triwizard Tournament, the Daily Prophet was referenced, the dorms tried but only echoed the dorm familiarity and comfort of the four houses’ dorms and common rooms.

Speaking of which, this brings me to:

What could be improved: Descriptions, descriptions, descriptions. The author did great with most of the (main) characters, and even a couple of the dragons (in brief), but one area she very strongly lacked in (and I’ll give the caveat that she IS a debut author, meaning she’s newer to the game) was describing the world around her. Much of the time, it felt like there were just people talking. No real description of their surroundings, save for the Eyrie and Annie’s former house. Nothing in the actual world felt livable, breathable. It was almost as bad as sitting in a theater, blindfolded. The world’s richness felt like it deserved so much more; I was actually expecting a MAP at the beginning to even know what was where, but I sadly did not see such. I also wanted to delve into the world’s background and history more, but found that somewhat lacking as well, although not as much as world description.

Lastly, the fights.

Loved the final fight, between Annie and Lee (because, who really to pit against each other as contenters for Firstriders aside from two childhood besties with dramatic romantic tension?), and really, really wished the other fights were even as HALF as detailed as that one. Most of them were all, blip, it’s over, leaving me turning my head around and going, “What?” More detail is needed, overall, in fights as well as worldbuilding and scenes. If Ms. Munda can tackle that challenge, she has another official fan, but as of right now I’m just too concerned about not seeing where we’re going, how we’re getting there, etc. I mean, how can you see a castle rampart/tower your dragon’s about to fly into on an extremely foggy day if you didn’t describe how large and pointy the castle is, first?

My rating: 3.3 stars. Not too bad for a debut, Ms. Munda, but add more detail, more richness. A cake is no good with the only basics of flour, water, and sugar. You need to add other ingredients to really make it work. 😉

Forget-Me-Not: A “Joy Luck Club” Book Review

Hi, friends! So this week and next week, you may or may not get spammed with book reviews because I’ve been behind on posting (personal life issues), but I promise to get some stuff up for you guys soon!

When you finally pass from this world, what do you want people to know about you and your life? What do you want to be remembered for? What kinds of lessons do you want to impart to the younger generations, before it’s too late?

Everyone wants to be known or remembered for something; most of us want to leave our impact behind for the betterment of the world, or at least the people in our lives. Sometimes it’s what drives us to do what we do, to preach what we preach, and sometimes practice what we preach. However, sometimes, as generations pass on, these morals can get watered down or worse, utterly ignored.

These are some of the issues addressed in Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club, a switcheroo generational story between Chinese immigrant women and their now Chinese-American daughters. The story in itself seemed a cross between literary fiction and contemporary fiction, though it leaned the former, it had some contemporary drama and twists to it.

WARNING: POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD!

Things to Know:

Some foul language, but infrequent.

Talk about abortions, losing children, etc.

War/refugee situations

Scenarios of domestic abuse, including a very manipulative rape scene, and even some gaslighting

A false “pious” sense of Christianity

Summary: A few Chinese women who immigrated to the US deal with their more modern, more stubborn, Chinese-American daughters, while visiting flashbacks that give explanations, experiences, and reasoning for the advice they impart to them. Many of the women go through marital struggles, mental health struggles, family struggles, identity struggles, occasionally even a sense of entitlement, and often strive to find out who they really are. In Chinese culture, it is kept more hush-hush, but sometimes bits and pieces slip between old friends at the mahjong table.

There was a lot to unpack in this book, but I’ll go over some of the highs and lows that I particularly noted. Some highs: The life lessons of the older generations will almost always apply to the younger in some way or another; differing cultural experiences and how that domino’ed into differing generations with other cultural influences; lastly, giving the daughters a remembrance of why the lives and experience of the older generations should matter to them. Then there were some lows: The daughters often (though not always, roughly two-thirds) showcased American selfishness, privilege, and entitlement, throwing bratty fits over things that mattered little in the long run; the mothers, in contrast, sometimes viewed themselves as high and mighty (you could see where the daughters got some of that, other than American influence), but the thing that irked me more was their theology of treating God like a Cosmic Santa Claus: a Pez dispenser who only gave out blessings, and immediately abandoning Him the moment He gives out candy they don’t want/like, or heaven FORBID, no candy at all. Yes, we are only human, but that seemed to me especially selfish– to seek Him solely for material benefit, not for something more. To top it, they would do this while having foreign/pagan idols and shrines in their homes they still prayed to/at. Maybe I read too much Old Testament and Lynn Austin, but the yo-yoing between the two has never ended well for the partakers before, and I doubt it’ll end well for people yo-yoing still today.

I will say the prose and literary fiction genre were most definitely justified by the excellent writing style, on a more positive note, and I believe the book teaches some important lessons about learning from the past and from others’ mistakes, but the positive is often neutrelled out by the negatives. This, with the somewhat scattered POVs (I kept flipping back to the page that said who was who, it was that easy to get some of them mixed-up), made it challenging to fully like and appreciate. My rating: Three out of five stars.