Friday, May 31, 2013

Butterfly Kisses








Title:  Butterfly Tears
Author:  Zoe S. Roy
Pages:  176
Year:  2009
Publisher:  Inanna Publications and Education Inc.
                This novel is a collection of 15 short stories written by Zoe Roy, who was born in China and lived under the Red Terror of Chairman Mao.  These stories no doubt are written from some of her life experiences, but also endowed with her fictional storytelling ability.  I won’t try to write about each story as that would be too lengthy for this forum, so I’ll try to summarize the main themes put forth.
                Women’s experiences from childhood through adulthood are the focus of the short stories.  Using the technique of flashback, some characters relive a simple life on a peasant farm or some a lost love or some the struggle of wondering about Mao’s ideology.  We see how the young were indoctrinated and psychologically manipulated into Mao’s regime and the struggle of some to adopt his ideologies as they were forced to give up family, friends, and the only way of life they had ever known.  There is also a strange story included about the use of pesticides.  I don’t understand why this very weird story was included in the collection.
                The ideology of feminism is also portrayed in some of the stories as well as the abuse of women and their reactions to it.  There is some man-bashing that goes on in some stories that I didn’t appreciate.  Also, there were two stories that questionably could be interpreted as two females in a relationship that could be more than friendship in one story and the subject of incest is touched upon in another.  Immorality via affairs also occurs in more than one of the stories.  I didn’t enjoy these stories with these particular undercurrents.
                While I enjoyed learning about women’s experiences in China during this time period and their subsequent adjustments to freedom, I found the conclusions too many of the stories to just stop without any real resolutions or wrapping things up.  At the end of some of the stories, I was left scratching my head, thinking “Huh, that’s it?”  I found some of the characters in certain stories stiff and not true to life; however, there were some characters that seemed to provide genuine emotions that I could relate to.  Most of the stories are disjointed and the change from flashback to the present is not a smooth transition.  I would have enjoyed more historical information and less feminist propaganda.
My rating is 2 stars.
Note:  I received a complimentary copy for an honest review of this book.  The opinions shared in this review are solely my responsibility.  Other reviews can be read at http://seekingwithallyurheart.blogspot.com/ .  Also follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988, FaceBook at https://www.facebook.com/lisa.johnson.75457

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Long March Home





Title:  The Long March Home
Author:  Zoe S. Roy
Pages:  270
Year:  2011
Publisher:  Inanna Publications and Education Inc.
                Zoe Roy has written a very poignant novel with The Long March Home.  Set during the Cultural Revolution in China for the most part, this story is very realistic and thought-provoking.  “It was so easy during this time to be misunderstood, and then accused,” thinks one of the main characters, Meihua.  The author herself lived under the late Mao Zedong’s rule and therefore has a lot of experience with this subject matter.
                Meihua Wei is a half-American, half-Chinese, art teacher who has been living in China for over 15 years.  She is married to a Chinese man, and their children have been born in China.  Due to her heritage, she has always been viewed as suspicious, but during the Red Terror this has never been truer.  She is falsely accused, publically humiliated and condemned, then sent to prison for “reformation” with a sentence of 13 years.  She did absolutely nothing wrong and was a loyal Communist; yet, because of her parentage that was enough to convict her.  Also, denouncing teachers, doctors and other learned professions was another way to implement Mao’s Cultural Revolution.  She leaves her two youngest children in the care of her servant as her husband lives and works in a labor camp.  He sends money, but he can’t live with his family and take care of them.  The family’s loyal servant, Yao, raises these two children as her own without pay.  The fear and terror the author evokes as these poor people live their lives, having to watch their every action and word is stunning.  They never know who might be watching and waiting to denounce them.
                Yezi has grown up while her mother has been imprisoned and is a delightful girl.  She is smart, brave and curious.  Her mother gets released early from prison and shortly thereafter they receive a letter from Meihua’s American mother, wanting to re-establish contact.  She has been searching for them for several years.  Eventually, Mao dies and the new leader begins to open up relations between nations.  Meihua’s mother is able to finally meet Yezi.  Yezi wants to explore her heritage and soon a search is underway for Meihua’s father, whom she has never met.  How will they ever find him?
                Within this story, there is a revolution within a revolution as “…the people, who put me behind bars, are using the Cultural Revolution to disrupt Mao’s authority and destroy China.”  This is voiced by a prisoner celled with Meihua.  Also, the story of family ties, survival, sacrifice for others and love are depicted.  I found this book to be very interesting, informative and well-written. 
My rating is 4 stars.
Note:  I received a complimentary copy for an honest review of this book.  The opinions shared in this review are solely my responsibility.  Other reviews can be read at http://seekingwithallyurheart.blogspot.com/ .  Also follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988, FaceBook at https://www.facebook.com/lisa.johnson.75457

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Judgment Stone (Sequel to the 13th Tribe)








Title:  The 13th Tribe (An Immortals Files Novel)
Author:  Robert Liparulo
Pages:  416
Year:  2012
Publisher:  Thomas Nelson
                Riveting!  A page turner with quite an adrenaline rush!  I bought this last year because the title caught my attention, though I had no idea what the novel was about.  By the front cover, I thought maybe it would be something akin to science fiction or like a Frank Peretti novel.  What I didn’t expect was a tale that has so many elements of different genres I wonder how the cataloging personnel ever settled on Christian suspense.  Trust me; it has suspense along with mysteries, archeology, history, science, military, Old Testament plus love.
                I am not sure exactly what to share as I don’t want to spoil the reader’s excitement by giving away too much about a story that has so many twists and turns.  There is an ex-military man who is working security for a monastery after an accident forever changed his life.  Jagger’s physical life isn’t the only change that occurs, but his spiritual life also.  His wife, Beth, loves him, understands him well and prays for him while waiting for healing to come.  Tyler, their son, brings smiles and joy to Jagger’s life in ways he can’t ever explain, but never wants to live without.  Now, a group of people known as the 13th Tribe have begun to arrange devastation that would make a nuclear explosion look like child’s play.  Some tend to have much longer lives than others, but to find out which characters that might be you have to read the book.  What would you do if someone you loved could out live you by a long time?  Would you distance yourself from them or live the rest of your time, enjoying life with them?
                Encased in this story is action that takes them across the globe on a journey to initiate their destruction with a couple of people trying very hard to thwart their plans.  The looks from the Tribes faces seem surreal; their bodies heal quickly unless mortally wounded in one way only.  Trying hard to earn God’s favor and no longer be separated from Him is why they do what they do, but they cannot grasp grace.  When Owen begins to share things with Jag, the man has to make a choice to help Owen or not.  What is it that turns the decision one way or the other for Jag?  Who is this Owen character?
                You will not want to pass up this fascinating novel and its sequel, The Judgment Stone, which I will share in an upcoming review.  Either way, the chapters are short and the heart thumping adventure is beyond description!  Never have I read something of this nature that includes so many different woven together to keep the reader glued till the very last word, and what a word it is!  It has an ending I never saw coming, and I can’t wait to dive into the sequel!
                My rating for this is 5 stars.
Note:   The opinions shared in this review are solely my responsibility.  Other reviews can be read at http://seekingwithallyurheart.blogspot.com/ .  Also follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988, FaceBook at https://www.facebook.com/lisa.johnson.75457

The 13th Tribe





Title:  The 13th Tribe (An Immortals Files Novel)
Author:  Robert Liparulo
Pages:  416
Year:  2012
Publisher:  Thomas Nelson
                Riveting!  A page turner with quite an adrenaline rush!  I bought this last year because the title caught my attention, though I had no idea what the novel was about.  By the front cover, I thought maybe it would be something akin to science fiction or like a Frank Peretti novel.  What I didn’t expect was a tale that has so many elements of different genres I wonder how the cataloging personnel ever settled on Christian suspense.  Trust me; it has suspense along with mysteries, archeology, history, science, military, Old Testament plus love.
                I am not sure exactly what to share as I don’t want to spoil the reader’s excitement by giving away too much about a story that has so many twists and turns.  There is an ex-military man who is working security for a monastery after an accident forever changed his life.  Jagger’s physical life isn’t the only change that occurs, but his spiritual life also.  His wife, Beth, loves him, understands him well and prays for him while waiting for healing to come.  Tyler, their son, brings smiles and joy to Jagger’s life in ways he can’t ever explain, but never wants to live without.  Now, a group of people known as the 13th Tribe have begun to arrange devastation that would make a nuclear explosion look like child’s play.  Some tend to have much longer lives than others, but to find out which characters that might be you have to read the book.  What would you do if someone you loved could out live you by a long time?  Would you distance yourself from them or live the rest of your time, enjoying life with them?
                Encased in this story is action that takes them across the globe on a journey to initiate their destruction with a couple of people trying very hard to thwart their plans.  The looks from the Tribes faces seem surreal; their bodies heal quickly unless mortally wounded in one way only.  Trying hard to earn God’s favor and no longer be separated from Him is why they do what they do, but they cannot grasp grace.  When Owen begins to share things with Jag, the man has to make a choice to help Owen or not.  What is it that turns the decision one way or the other for Jag?  Who is this Owen character?
                You will not want to pass up this fascinating novel and its sequel, The Judgment Stone, which I will share in an upcoming review.  Either way, the chapters are short and the heart thumping adventure is beyond description!  Never have I read something of this nature that includes so many different woven together to keep the reader glued till the very last word, and what a word it is!  It has an ending I never saw coming, and I can’t wait to dive into the sequel!
                My rating for this is 5 stars.
Note:   The opinions shared in this review are solely my responsibility.  Other reviews can be read at http://seekingwithallyurheart.blogspot.com/ .  Also follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988, FaceBook at https://www.facebook.com/lisa.johnson.75457

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A Heartbeat Away




Title:  A Heartbeat Away (Quilts of Love Series)
Author:  S. Dionne Moore
Pages:  240
Year:  2013
Publisher:  Abingdon Press
                Being a Civil War enthusiast for me means learning about the time, reading stories in that time frame, both fiction as well as nonfiction.  There are many theories about different parts of that era.  The amount of life lost is something that still staggers my heart and mind.  When I read about this timeframe, I see past the battles; I see quilts made that held messages of a variety I had never known.
                Here is a fictional story about a crippled young woman from the North who believes she is to be a nurse, but when faced with the atrocities she can’t bring herself to think of facing them every day.  Beth goes to live with her grandmother, Greta, to learn how to help the hurting, but Greta wants her to see a bigger picture.  Joe, along with his brother, Ben, has joined the war after facing the death of family members.  One night, after Joe has been shot, Ben is leading him to a place to be cared for when suddenly Ben is killed.  The next time Joe wakes up, he sees Beth’s face and there begins the journey that ends up changing both of their lives forever.
                I can tell you there is so much more to the wonderful story woven together to place before the reader.  Beth needs hope for her future after being hurt in the past.  Joe needs hope when he has more questions than answers and his love for a northern woman is a mystery.  The other characters need hope for everyday life and freedom.  A Heartbeat Away is a faith-filled romance, action and adventure tale.  In the story, you will see that hope is born and burned into the heart through faith in God as well as through adversity.  Enjoy this fictional work as soon as you can, then share the message of hope with someone else.
                My rating is 4 stars.
Note:  I received a complimentary copy for an honest review of this book.  The opinions shared in this review are solely my responsibility.  Other reviews can be read at http://seekingwithallyurheart.blogspot.com/ .  Also follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988, FaceBook at https://www.facebook.com/lisa.johnson.75457