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review SPOILER ALERT! 2013-09-30 16:28
Paradise Valley (The Daughters of Caleb Bender) by Dale Cramer
Paradise Valley - Dale Cramer

It is my second Amish book I read. The first one was James A. Michener's "The Novel". Before as well as after that, I was always interest in the Amish lifestyle, their recipes, quilts, etc. and watched just about all the movies made about the Amish culture. I have treasured this book for a long time, waiting for the opportunity to read it. It was a beautiful, heartwarming, amazing experience. I loved every minute of it.

Their way of life always reminded me of how my grandparents lived before electricity and motor vehicles graced their lives. It is a kind of walk down memory lane, and although it is in a different country, the background and religion was the same.

Lots to ponder in the book. Here is a few quotes I would like to remember:

"My dat says a prideful man thinks everyone is vain, and a deceiver thinks everyone is a liar."

“Would we try to rule as the greedy do?” he asked. “Will we try to grab power over other people’s possessions? What fellowship has righteousness with unrighteousness, and what communion hath light with darkness?"

"Just remember when you choose a girlfriend, don’t choose so much the girl. Choose the friend."

"Dat says a man who is strong in his heart is gentle in his hands.”

"There was a kind of comfort in knowing that someone else was in control so long as it was someone faithful, someone who cared for his wife as Gott cared for His children. 

"Someone strong enough to be gentle with his wife. Someone who not only would allow his wife to be everything Gott intended her to be, but wanted it so. She had seen the other kind too, in the downcast eyes of women whose husbands ruled with an iron hand that squeezed the dreams out of them. If the right man could complete a woman, the wrong one could crush her."

"There was nothing worth doing in this world that could not be accomplished with common sense, hard work, and the help of a strong family."

It will not be the last one I read. This made my day special indeed.

Source: www.goodreads.com/review/show/728214668
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review SPOILER ALERT! 2013-09-30 15:46
Canton Elegy: A Father's Letter of Sacrifice, Survival, and Enduring Love by Stephen Lee, Howard Webster
Canton Elegy: A Father's Letter of Sacrifice, Survival, and Enduring Love - Stephen Lee,Howard Webster

"I want my heart to have a voice so I can love you louder" 

This first words in this epistolary memoir took me by total surprise. A father who worked as a grocer in America, wanted his children as well as grandchildren to know how much he loved them and what it took to make their lives better. So he decided to write them his lifestory in the form of a letter. 

This memoir was written by Stephen Jin-Nom, who was born November 27, 1902, in the Dai Waan village in Zhongshan, China. He grew up without a father in his paternal grandfather's house and was encourage by his grandfather to go to America for a proper education. He was the only child and only lived his first eight years of his life with his mother before he was sent away, accompanied by his Little Uncle, to live with Uncle Lee Tay in California. He would not see his mother again for many years.

On the way to his uncle's rented farm, they were on the ferry when it started raining. He was standing on the deck, alone, so very young and homesick at that moment, because he heard his mothers words when she told him back at home about the music in the rain. 
(view spoiler)

He graduated with a degree in economics from Berkley but was unhappy that the words in the American Declaration of Independence - life, liberty and pursuit of happiness - only applied to Caucasian citizens, because discrimination towards everyone else prevented highly qualified immigrants from getting the jobs they were qualified for at American institutions of learning. It was unacceptable to him that John Locke, the English philosopher to whom those words in the Declaration were attributed to, was also a principal investor in the Royal Africa Company involved in the slave trade.

To combat racism, the Chinese immigrants believed firstly that it could be done with education, and secondly, it should be met with impeccable manners, wit and style.
(view spoiler)

He learnt the hard way that the American Dream was a myth. He tore up his American papers and returned to China. 

Despite his uncle's warnings, he was determined to live in a place where doors were not constantly slapped close in his face simply because of where he was born. Although he anticipated some trouble with China being on the brink of a civil war, he never could predict the intensity of the suffering the people would have to endure. He met his wife, Belle, had four children( Amy, Huey, Rudy and Yvonne), worked as a highly respected Air Force comptroller with the rank of a colonel, a banker, as well as a professor teaching economics.

But he never foresaw what he and his nuclear family would have to endure. From the Chinese civil war, the Second Sino-Japanese War, the Second World War, to the Cultural Revolution: his country was turned upside down by warlords, politicians, corruption, fraud, vandalism, poverty, famine, and inhuman acts of violence. He and his family lived a life of constant migration, fleeing the horror of it all and barely surviving. 

When he finally ended up back in the USA working as a grocer, he decided to write his children and grandchildren a letter to tell them how much he loved them and how much he cared.

He passed away on April 25, 1970. This memoir would be co-authored a few decades later by his granddaughter Julianne Lee's husband, Howard Webster, and published as a book.

I was left with many questions, like: how was it possible that this unbelievable kind, compassionate, highly intelligent man, with his family, could endure all these incredible experiences and not break down, while so many millions of people all over the world in much less challenging circumstances could simply not rise above it? What made Stephen Jin-Nom different? 

"Hatred, like a bush fire, ultimately consumes those who propagate it, leaving nothing but scorched, barren earth behind in their hearts. Love, the greatest of reckless endeavors,inspires men to greatness in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds."

It is an incredible tale of hardship, but also kindness; of heartbreak as well as hope; of deep sorrow and intense joy. It is one of the most inspirational stories I have read in a very long time. I highly recommend this book to EVERYONE! In this book, horror is not a book genre for bored people seeking extreme excitement, horror was a real way of life!

I am changed. Undoubtedly. 

Source: www.goodreads.com/review/show/724530534
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text 2013-09-30 14:39
A Light in the Cane Fields by Enrico Antiporda
A Light in the Cane Fields - Enrico Antiporda

Top Semi finalist, 2008 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award.
Kindle Edition: Published April 12th 2013

This is one of the best books I have read in a very long time! 
When it was finished my first thought after reading "The End"was: "what an unbelievably, incredible, amazing story!" 

Jando, a twelve-year-old child is the narrator, lying in a 'spider-hole' introducing himself as a boy-soldier - those kids "too tough to be real children, too young to be real men"

The riveting, evocative tale starts with his innocent life on his father's sugar plantation, introducing his family: 

Mang Miguel Flores, his dad; Sampaguita Inday - his mom; Tanaya - his adopted little sister, with her pet pig Rosa; Monching - his missing brother; His uncle - Tio Mario: "He was a boulder no one could budge, someone one could hide behind. Today showed me that he was only human "Oso was a member of the Peasants Union and was as disagreeable as a swollen canker sore." 

Jando is still discovering the world around him, describing his life from every angle: the smells of the forests and plantations, his mom's masterful cooking of traditional foods; the colors of the insects, animals, mountains, flowers, clouds; the detail of the community's dresses, believes, habits, history and languages. We are taken into the lives of decent, hardworking people living an uncomplicated life. 

And abruptly his life changed when he also was confronted with the ugliness of revolution, war, politics and greed in which his family's - as well as those of many people around them's lives would forever change.
"Bad wind never blows alone, so goes the Filipino saying. 

But I wasn't listening. I wanted to be alone. I was mad. Mad at Mama and Papa for delaying me, mad at Father Rufino for leaving me, mad at Tio Mario for interrupting me, mad at Leilani for cheating on Oso, mad at Oso for being a fool, mad at Tato for getting himself killed, and mad at everything else. I punched the air with my fist. It was a stupid world with stupid people living in it.

The author blended love, family, hardships, war, and unbelievable violence into a poetic tale of hope and determination.

The story is fast moving, exact, riveting. "The sun rose and fell and the days peeled away like the pages of a calendar."

Every page would shock, mesmerize, and grip the reader as a silent witness to this remarkable historical accurate, yet fictitious tale. 

The reader is left breathless at the end, yet also grateful for a young boy's integrity, compassion and love for his country and his people and the price he was willing to pay to honor the people he loved and to keep his promises. 

"The memories still haunt us, but they are faded now, like the pages of an old manuscript left out in the sun." 

I recommend this brilliant,compassionately-written book to anyone enjoying Khaled Hosseini, Amy Tan, Abraham Verghese, Tan Twang Eng. 

Source: www.goodreads.com/review/show/673064828
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