Part history lesson, part life-story, SHADOWS OF THE CRIMSON SUN by JULIA LIN is an eye-opening book that I believe is a must read.

Title: SHADOWS OF THE CRIMSON SUN

Subtitle: One Man’s Life in Manchuria, Taiwan, and North America

Author: JULIA LIN

Genre: NON-FICTION, BIOGRAPHY, HISTORY, TAIWAN

Length: 169 PAGES

Publisher: MAWENZI HOUSE

Type of Book: SOFTCOVER

Received From: THE PUBLISHER

Release Date: AUGUST 2017

ISBN: 978-1-988449-17-3

Price: $24.95 CDN

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Map and photograph obtained from ‘Lonely Planet

DESCRIPTION:

After the Russian invasion of the Japanese puppet state of Manchuria (Manchukuo) in 1945, fourteen-year-old Akihisa Takayama escapes with his family to their ancestral Taiwan. Here they find themselves under the brutal Chinese dictatorship of the Kuomintang. In the 1960s, now a physician calling himself Charles Yang, he escapes with his young family to the United States, from where they finally go on to Canada to become among the first Taiwanese Canadians in Vancouver. Charles Yang’s experiences illuminate the “White Terror” of Taiwan, and the geopolitical dispute between Communist China and Taiwan over the meaning of “One China.” This is a rare, humane, and personal account of the little known histories of Manchukuo and Taiwanese immigration to North America.

– The author, Julia Lin with the book’s subject: Dr. Charles Yang (2017)

– Photographs obtained from www.julialinbooks.com

BOOK TRAILER:

MY REVIEW:

I find history fascinating, but without personalization, there is no context. It is for this reason that I enjoy memoirs and biographies as much as I do. In my heart I believe that author Julia Lin must feel the same way.

Part history lesson, part life-story, SHADOWS OF THE CRIMSON SUN is an eye-opening book that I believe is a must read.

Retired Doctor, Charles Yang’s life has been incredible, and not always in a good way. He experienced upheaval and massive disorientation during his formative years. The lessons he learned along the way and the hardships he endured shaped him into an intelligent and thoughtful man, a brilliant doctor and a Taiwanese-Canadian with a deep love for both his original and adoptive homelands.

Growing up during the Second World War and the horror that was life in Manchuria and later Taiwan “… helped to cultivate {his} life-long belief in the futility of war.”

This book has once again proven to me that no matter how much one may think they know about a given topic, or period in history, there is always more to be discovered. For example, the bulk of the literature and the narrative surrounding the end of WWII focuses on the defeat of Germany’s Adolph Hitler and the deliverance of the European populace from Nazi control. What we rarely hear about is defeat of Japan (other than the delivery of the atomic bombs) and what happened to the innocent civilians after the official end of the war. For example, I was aware of the fact that Japan did an incredibly thorough job of indoctrinating its citizens with propaganda extolling the virtue of the Japanese cause. What I did not know was that the beliefs were so engrained into it’s citizens that there were many occurrences of mass suicides when the Japanese populace learned of their country’s defeat.

I believe it is absolutely imperative that people read books such as SHADOWS OF THE CRIMSON SUN if we are to truly revel in the fact that we, as Canadians, are truly blessed to live in a society that celebrates and embraces multiculturalism. Yes, I am aware that no society, including that of Canada, is perfect. But it is the publication of books such as this one that will go a long way to understanding other cultures and their histories and through understanding, we create hope for the future.

I rate SHADOWS OF THE CRIMSON SUN as 5 out of 5 Stars. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

** Thank you to Mawenzi House Books for providing me with a free copy of “Shadows of the Crimson Sun.” **

FAVORITE QUOTE:

“As in any war, it was the common people who suffered most.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Julia Lin was born in Taiwan and lived there and in Vietnam before her family immigrated to Canada when she was nine.

Since then, Julia has lived in Vancouver and its environs, Toronto, and northern British Columbia.

She holds a graduate degree in Immunology (M.Sc., University of Toronto) and a post-graduate degree in computing education (University of British Columbia) and has taught high school math, science, and computing science in British Columbia for a number of years.

Julia lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK

INSTAGRAM

TWITTER

AMAZON

CHAPTERS

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE

ABOUT THE PUBLISHER:

Mawenzi House is dedicated to bringing to the reading public fresh new writing from Canada and across the world that reflects the diversity of our rapidly globalizing world, particularly in Canada and the United States.

Our focus is on works that can loosely be termed “multicultural” and particularly those that pertain to Asia and Africa. We publish 6-8 titles of fiction, poetry, and nonfiction (literary criticism, history) per year.

Among our achievements: we have played a role in the formulation of the Indo-Caribbean identity through the publication of several ground-breaking titles; we have kept in print books by major Caribbean writers Sam Selvon, Ismith Khan, and John Stewart; we have published provocative and perceptive social and literary critical works by Arnold Itwaru, Arun Prabha Mukherjee, Chelva Kanaganayakam, and others; the introduction of the important Zimbabwean writer Yvonne Vera; the first historical and critical study of Chinese Canadian writing in English; the first anthologies of South Asian Canadian literature, South Asian Canadian women’s poetry, Chinese Canadian stories, and South Asian Canadian and American women’s fiction.

HISTORY

In 1981, a group of young people, who had been in North America for just over a decade, decided to take the plunge and start the magazine they had always dreamed about as students, at a time in which Naipaul had to be ordered from bookstores, let alone Narayan or Ngugi or Soyinka. The result was The Toronto South Asian Review, which later became the much broader-based The Toronto Review of Contemporary Writing Abroad and helped entrench a generation of new writers. As an offshoot of this literary magazine, in 1985 TSAR Publications published its first title, a book of essays on South Asian Canadian literature, followed by a book of poetry by Sri Lankan Canadian Rienzi Crusz.

Mawenzi House finally emerged, a uniquely diverse and knowledgeable publishing house based in Canada. (“Mawenzi” is the name of the second peak of Kilimanjaro.)

To learn more about Mawenzi House, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK

INSTAGRAM

TWITTER

PINTEREST

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FEEDING MY MOTHER by Jann Arden – A MUST READ by this multi-talented Canadian Icon

Title: FEEDING MY MOTHER

Subtitle: COMFORT AND LAUGHTER IN THE KITCHEN AS MY MOM LIVES WITH MEMORY LOSS

Author: JANN ARDEN

Genre: NON-FICTION, MEMOIR, FAMILY, ALZHEIMERS

Length: 210 PAGES

Publisher: RANDOM HOUSE CANADA

Type of Book: HARDCOVER

Received From: MY HUSBAND AS A CHRISTMAS GIFT

Release Date: NOVEMBER 21, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7352-7392-4

Price: $26.00 USD / $35.00 CDN

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

Jann Arden moved into a house just across the way from her parents in rural Alberta to be close to them but also so they could be her refuge from the demands of the music business and a performing career. Funny how time works.

Since her dad died in 2015, Jann cooks for her mom five or six times a week. Her mom finds comfort in her daughter’s kitchen, not just in the delicious food but also just sitting with her as she cooks. And Jann finds some peace in caring for her mom, even as her mom slowly becomes a stranger.

“If you told me two years ago that I’d be here,” Jann writes, “I wouldn’t have believed it. And yet we still fall into so much laughter, feel so much insane gladness and joy. It’s such a contrast from one minute to the next and it teaches me constantly: it makes me stronger and more humble and more empathetic and caring and kind.”

The many people who are dealing with a loved one who is losing it will find inspiration and strength in Jann’s wholehearted, loving response and her totally Jann take on the upside-down world of a daughter mothering her mother. Feeding My Mother is one heck of an affirmation that life just keeps on keeping on, and a wonderful example of how you have to roll with it.

MY REVIEW:

I was drawn to this book initially by the beautiful cover and once I read the blurb inside the cover, I knew this was a book I just had to read. After reading the small poem that starts the book, I was enchanted.

“Another year, another page.
A million moments melt away.
The ticking-tocking hands of time,
what’s found and lost, remains sublime.
The details that we hold so fast,
are nothing more than memories past.
For love is all that lingers true,
the bond that ties my heart to you.”
– Jann Arden (2013)

Jann Arden is a Canadian icon and the fact that she is now dealing with a parent with Alzheimer’s Disease makes her seem less like an untouchable superstar and more like just another person of my generation who is dealing with aging parents. I can relate to her struggle.

Filled with gorgeous photography and touching moments, this book is one that everyone will want to read.

Jann may disagree, but her unflinching honesty and relentless positivity are inspiring. When discussing social media, she writes:

“Words are big. They define who you are. They are permanent… What you say is who you are. So try to be gentle on social media. Lift others up … Don’t always turn your words into weapons when you can just as easily make doves.”

She has articulated my exact feelings in a much more poetic and lyrical way than I ever could. I guess that’s why she is such an accomplished singer and songwriter.

The book is written in diary entry format beginning in June of 2014 with the final entry having been written in February of 2017. Jann has also included many of the recipes that she cooks for herself and her mother.

The recipes are written as if they had been noted down for you by a good friend after an enjoyable dinner party and yet they are also easy to follow and detailed enough that anyone and everyone should be able to recreate them in their own kitchen.

It would be impossible for me to rate this heartwarming and inspirational memoir as anything other than 5 out of 5 Stars. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Jann Arden’s latest book has kindled my interest in her, not only as a singer/songwriter, but also as an author and I plan to pick up her previous books as well. In short, BUY THIS BOOK – You will not be disappointed.

To see a terrific video interview where Jann Arden talks about this book, visit the CBC Website.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

PHOTO BY: ALKAN EMIN

JANN ARDEN is a singer, songwriter, broadcaster, actor, author and social media star. The celebrated multi-platinum, award-winning artist catapulted onto the music scene in 1993 with her debut album, Time for Mercy, featuring the hit single “I Would Die for You.” A year later she had her international break-out hit, “Insensitive.”

She has written three books, the most recent being the #1 bestselling memoir Falling Backwards.

She is much in demand as a public speaker, and a favourite frequent guest on CBC’s Rick Mercer Report and a guest host on CTV’s The Social.

To learn more about this Jann Arden, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK

INSTAGRAM

TWITTER

SPOTIFY

YOUTUBE

AMAZON

CHAPTERS

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE

ONE OF MY FAVORITE QUOTES FROM THIS BOOK:

“The cliché is that we are supposed to live our lives in ‘gratitude.’ But gratitude is not something you acquire like a Happy Meal from McDonalds. It’s something you have to slowly create in your daily life through intention and sincere acts of goodness and kindness.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This book is also part of a Reading Challenge that is being hosted by GINGERMOM READS BLOG where I have committed to reading at least one book title from every letter of the alphabet in 2018. It is the #2018AtoZChallenge

WALK IT OFF by RUTH MARSHALL

Title: WALK IT OFF

Subtitle: The true (and oddly hilarious) story of how I learned to stand, walk, pee, run, and even have sex again, after a nightmarish diagnosis turned my perfectly awesome life upside down

Author: RUTH MARSHALL

Genre: NON-FICTION, MEMOIR, AUTO-BIOGRAPHY

Length: 257 PAGES

Publisher: SIMON & SCHUSTER

Type of Book: SOFTCOVER ARC

Received From: GOODREADS GIVEAWAY

Release Date: JANUARY 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7362-2

Price: $26.00 CDN / $21.99 USD

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

MY REVIEW:

First off, let me say that I ADORE the title of this book. I generally am averse to book covers with long subtitles, however this book would not have caught my eye without it.

I was lucky enough to win an ARC (Advance Reader Copy) from GOODREADS and I am very glad I did.

This memoir chronicles one woman’s journey to find out what was causing the bizarre symptoms she was experiencing, through diagnosis, surgery, rehab and beyond.

I suppose I should tell potential readers right away that this is NOT a self-help book. Instead, it is the unflinchingly honest memoir of a woman who goes from leading something closely akin to a charmed life, to discovering that no life is perfect.

I have never met Ruth Marshall, but after reading her story, I feel confident in stating that she is an amazing woman. This is not due to the fact that she is famous (or as famous as any Canadian television actress can be), nor is it because of her health issues. My opinion of Ruth as an amazing woman is based on her honesty.

It could not have been easy to chronicle her medical condition and her efforts at recovery, and yet she has done so while managing to be surprisingly honest. She does not shy away from the “icky” stuff. She talks about everything from poop to sex to shoes.

It’s human nature to want to ‘put your best foot forward’ (yes, pun intended) and to present yourself to the world as close to perfect as possible. However, if this memoir had been written that way, it would not have been authentic, nor would it have been such a compelling read.

Ruth has been able to tell her story in such a way that instead of pitying her, you find yourself following her journey with rabid interest.

You will want to cry at times, yet at others, you will be laughing along with her – and a few times you just might find yourself laughing at her antics.

It may not have been her intention, but this memoir also has lessons to teach us all. Firstly, even though Ruth looked perfectly healthy and happy, she was struggling with a wide variety of symptoms. Not yet diagnosed, and working at a voice acting gig, Ruth says: “I was able to stand for the entire voice session, ignoring the temptation to rest on the stool behind me. Neither the producer nor my voice partner seemed to notice the effort it took for me to remain perfectly upright, making me wonder for the thousandth time: If no one else was noticing, was anything wrong with me.”

This is something that many people struggle with. But, as Ruth proved, it is important to listen to your body and to be your own healthcare advocate. Do NOT ignore your symptoms.

By all accounts, Ruth Marshall is a terrific actress, but I believe she was always meant to be an author.

Judging by the readability of WALK IT OFF, I am sure others will agree. This memoir is destined to become a Bestseller and I would bet money that Ruth Marshall’s name will be on literary lips everywhere in 2018.

I rate WALK IT OFF: THE TRUE (AND ODDLY HILARIOUS) STORY OF HOW I LEARNED TO STAND, WALK, PEE, RUN, AND EVEN HAVE SEX AGAIN, AFTER A NIGHTMARISH DIAGNOSIS TURNED MY PERFECTLY AWESOME LIFE UPSIDE DOWN as 5 out of 5 Stars. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Excerpt from Chapter One:

“I wanted to be an actress from the time I was six years old and have been one since I was twenty-five. My career has been notable for three reasons: I got naked in my first film role; I was in a television series with Billy Ray Cyrus; and for eight seasons I played a Mom on the Canadian teen drama DEGRASSI. The biggest chunk of my career, however, has been made up of commercial voice work. My voice has sold everything from Ikea kitchens to condoms.”

Ruth Marshall was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. She is known for her work on Casino Jack (2010), Doc (2001) and Dolores Claiborne (1995).

She graduated with a degree in English from McGill University in Montreal and then returned to her hometown of Toronto to pursue a career in acting.

Ruth Marshall made her feature film debut in the lead role of Candy in Love and Human Remains.

Marshall is also a stage actor and was critically acclaimed for her one-woman performance in 4 Letters, 5 Years, which she wrote, produced and starred in.

In 1994, Marshall took on the role of Celeste in Transit of Venus at the Globe Theater in Canada. In addition to her career as an actor, Marshall is also a very accomplished voice actor as well.

Features & TV Movies:
Love & Human Remains (1993)
TekWar: TekJustice (TV-1994)
Dolores Claiborne (1995)
Waiting for Michelangelo (1996)
Too Close to Home (TV-1997)
Half a Dozen Babies (TV-1999)
Dogmatic (1999)
Apparent Woes (2006)
Baby Blues (2007)
Daniel`s Daughter (TV-2008)
Degrassi Spring Break Movie (TV-2008)
Casino Jack (2010)

TV Series – Cast:

Wild C.A.T.S. (voice, 1994)
Doc (2001-2004)
The Path to 9/11 (mini-series, 2006)
Degrassi: The Next Generation (2007-)
Flashpoint (2008-2009)
TV Series – Guest appearances:
F/X: The Series (1997)
Power Play (1998)
This is Wonderland (2004)
Zoe Busiek: Wild Card (2005)
Puppets Who Kill (2006)
Love You to Death (2007)
Friends and Heroes (voice, 2007)
The Dating Guy (2009)
She’s the Mayor (2011)
The Listener (2011)
The Firm (2012)
Rookie Blue (2012)

To learn more about Ruth Marshall and her new career as an author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

INSTAGRAM

NORTHERN STARS – CANADA’S CELEBRITY DATABASE

INTERNET MOVIE DATABASE