Category Archives: Non-Fiction

Review: Meet Me at the Intersection

Meet Me at the Intersection edited by Rebecca Lim & Ambelin Kwaymullina

Meet Me at the Intersection is an anthology of short fiction, memoir and poetry by authors who are First Nations, People of Colour, LGBTIQA+ or living with disability. The focus of the anthology is on Australian life as seen through each author’s unique, and seldom heard, perspective.

With works by Ellen van Neerven, Graham Akhurst, Kyle Lynch, Ezekiel Kwaymullina, Olivia Muscat, Mimi Lee, Jessica Walton, Kelly Gardiner, Rafeif Ismail, Yvette Walker, Amra Pajalic, Melanie Rodriga, Omar Sakr, Wendy Chen, Jordi Kerr, Rebecca Lim, Michelle Aung Thin and Alice Pung, this anthology is designed to challenge the dominant, homogenous story of privilege and power that rarely admits ‘outsider’ voices.

Published September 2018 |  Publisher: Fremantle Press  |  RRP: AUD$19.99

My Blurb (4 / 5 stars)

I’m so excited to see a book, an anthology, dedicated to #ownvoices ! Finally, something for everyone (or almost). Editors did a fine job in collating stories of representation from a cross-section of those who are different, unique; of voices whom we rarely hear.

There are a couple of poetry which I struggled with… I don’t know how to read poetry! Although what really helps is the blurb at the beginning of each chapter describing who the authors are and sometimes, what their pieces are about. Each one of these authors are amazing humans!

Of course, I am absolutely partial to the Asian stories / authors as I understood them better from the cultural perspective. However, this did not diminish my enjoyment of the other stories (except for poetry as I mentioned above) for each of these stories help me to better understand their side of the story. I mean why else do we read but to open our minds to others and in listening to them, be better able to love as they deserve to be loved. I highly recommend this anthology for all who seek to understand.

Thanks to Fremantle Press for copy of book in exchange of honest review. 

About the author

Rebecca Lim is a writer, illustrator and lawyer based in Melbourne. Rebecca is the author of eighteen books, and has been shortlisted for the Prime Minister’s Literary Award, INDIEFAB Book of the Year Award, Aurealis Award and Davitt Award for YA. Rebecca’s work has also been longlisted for the Gold Inky Award and the David Gemmell Legend Award. Her novels have been translated into German, French, Turkish, Portuguese and Polish.

Find Rebecca on:  goodreads

Ambelin Kwaymullina is an Aboriginal writer and illustrator who comes from the Palyku people of the Pilbara region of Western Australia. She is the author and illustrator of a number of award-winning picture books as well as a YA dystopian series. Her books have been published in the United States, South Korea and China. Ambelin is a prolific commentator on diversity in children’s literature and a law academic at the University of Western Australia.

Find Ambelin on:  goodreads

Teaser Tuesdays: The Immortal Prince



Tides, how did this happen?  he wondered as they turned and headed back across the lawn to the palace.  An hour ago, he had control of his life and the lives of those for whom he was responsible.  Suddenly, it had all slipped from his grasp.

~page 264

tide lords 1The Immortal Prince (Tide Lords #1) by Jennifer Fallon


He’s insisting he’s a Tide Lord and he’s begging us to try again…to kill him, that is.

When a routine hanging goes wrong, the survivor announces he is Cayal the immortal Prince, a Tide Lord. However, the only known record of the immortal beings of Amyrantha is the Tide LordTarot…and everyone knows it is only a parlour-game, an amusement.

Arkady Desean, an expert on the legends of the Crasii – a part-animal, part-human race – is sent to interrogate Cayal. But in exposing this would-be immortal, Arkady’s own web of deceit threatens to unravel.

Nothing is as it seems around the Immortal Prince. The lies seem plausible, his stories improbable…and the the truth is more than any of them bargined for.

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read • Open to a random page • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!) • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Teaser Tuesdays: Canton Elegy


Rather than just lark around with the children teaching them songs all day, I also tried to help Belle with her chores around the house.  She was happy for the assistance and would always praise me for my attempts at housework, then secretly redo everything when I stepped out.

~page 146

cantonCanton Elegy: A Father’s Letter of Sacrifice, Survival and Love by Stephen Jin-Nom Lee & Howard Webster

Stephen Lee’s grandchildren knew him as a humble grocer. Beneath his humble exterior, however, lay one of the most extraordinary stories of the twentieth century.

Lee was born in Canton, China in 1902. As a teenager he was sent to live with relatives in San Francisco. He attended college at Iowa State and later transferred to UC Berkeley where he was one of the first Chinese-Americans to receive a degree. The widespread racism of the time prevented Lee from landing a job in his chosen field of finance, so he burned his papers and returned home to China.

With the clouds of war gathering, Lee, an anti-communist, found work in the accounting and logistics office of the Cantonese Air Force where he quickly rose to Colonel and comptroller. In 1929, after securing his position, he married a local beauty named Belle and in 1930, his first child, Amy, was born.

When the Japanese pushed south from Manchuria in 1936, the Cantonese Air Force was merged with that of Chiang Kai-shek’s and Lee was forced to flee with his wife and four children to Hong Kong. There Lee took a job with the Canton Trust Company. On the eve of the bombings at Pearl Harbor, the board of the Canton Trust made the fateful decision to send Lee to Kwelin to set up a new office. After Hong Kong fell to the Japanese, Belle and the children were force to flee on foot to Kwelin, which became a three hundred mile, six-week ordeal of hunger and hardship.

In 1943, Kwelin was evacuated and the Lees were once again on the move. Forced to play the part of refugees, the Lees moved up river, eventually landing in the small village of Foo-Luke outside of Chungking. There Stephen was invited to teach accounting at the local university. But tragedy soon struck again when a sudden flood nearly washed the family down the Yangtze River.

After the war, the Lees returned to Canton where they found that their home had been converted into an auto repair shop by the Japanese. Undaunted, Belle set about rebuilding it while Stephen helped return the city to civilian rule. By 1948, however, the Communists were bearing down on Canton and Lees were compelled to relocate again.

In 1955, the Lees fled for a final time–to America. Back in San Francisco, Lee found that attitudes towards Chinese immigrants had not changed much since he first left there 30 years before.

Canton Elegy is a love story, an adventure, and an intimate portrait of one family’s struggle to survive. Stephen Jin-Nom Lee, his beautiful wife, Belle, and their four young children, braved famine, flood, corruption, and the devastation of war, on their journey to America.

Written so that his grandchildren might one day understand the quiet man who ran the local grocery store, Canton Elegy has all the action of a Hollywood blockbuster. From the 300-mile journey Belle and the children take on foot, to the night when Stephen stands at his window watching Canton burn, Canton Elegy describes events with an artist’s sensibility and a poet’s heart.

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read • Open to a random page • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!) • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Review: Found in Him: The Joy of the Incarnation and Our Union with Christ

foundinhimFound in Him: The Joy of the Incarnation and Our Union with Christ by Elyse Fitzpatrick

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Source: eARC courtesy of Crossway via NetGalley

To be found in God is a joyous occasion and yet, a lot of the time, we tended to forget amongst the business of our lives. There can never be enough reminders about this, if we are to continue to live a life of faith. This was one reason why I chose to pick this book up –as another point of being reminded that I have been found in Christ and the amazing way that came about.

The first half of the book expounded on Jesus’ incarnation –on what it means, how it could be, and the consequences. And the second half considered these ‘consequences’ – what it means for us to be united with Christ. For each chapter, the main point was explained within a few sub-headings in a very clear and succinct language though not dry at all. There were some personal anecdotes and at times, it felt like the author is speaking directly to the reader. It almost felt like listening to a Sunday sermon; a very good one with a charismatic speaker who is passionate about her subject.  Each chapter ends with a number of questions which can be used for devotional times but also to think a little deeper and personally about each topics.

I’d to share with you the one thing that stayed with me most;

He [Moses] asked the Lord, “Please show me your glory” (Ex 33:18). So God allowed Moses to ascend the mountain once again and lovingly placed him in the cleft or fissure of a rock, covering him with his hand so that his glory might pass by him. God enabled Moses to see him without being killed by the sight. Moses was hidden in a broken rock…

Does the broken rock that protected Moses from God’s glory have a name? Yes, of course. The Son is the rock of ages who was cleft for us, in whom we are to hide to be protected from what would be a deadly holiness. How are we protected? By the very hand of God. In fact, we are hidden in God from God by the Son’s life, death, and resurrection. We can look upon Jesus, the one in whom the whole fullness of God dwells, and not be killed by the sight. He is the Deliverer. He is the point of the story.

Found in Him is a beautifully written book. The author, Elyse Fitzpatrick, was not only able to structure her argument in a concise way but also communicate her passion for Christ and this particular topic. Whilst I didn’t particularly learn anything new, theologically, I was inspired and grateful for the reminder. I want to have a passion for Christ, just like Elyse.

Thank you, Crossway for copy of eARC via NetGalley

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Review: Psalms for Everyone, Part 1: Psalms 1-72

psalmsPsalms for Everyone, Part 1: Psalms 1-72 by John Goldingay
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Source: eARC courtesy of Westminster John Knox Press via NetGalley

I finished reading The 30-Day Praise Challenge on a high and thought that I’d like to continue this praise by reading through the book of Psalms. At first, I was just going to wade in myself and see how I go but then I came across this title on NetGalley: Psalms for Everyone. I thought this would mean that the target audience of the book will be the average Joe (or Jane) and will probably be within my brain capacity.

The Bible translations I would normally read would either be NIV or ESV and I couldn’t find or even tell which version of the Bible is being used in this book. I read back to front and I must’ve been blind to completely miss it but I did. In any case, I found it fairly hard to get my head around this translation of the Psalms and it caught me off balance. In addition to having had to read an unusual version of the Psalms, I also found it very difficult to read through Goldingjay’s commentaries on the chapters. He wrote approximately a page commentaries per chapter (for some long chapters, the chapters are divided).

The personal anecdotes were ones I loved as they shared of author’s real experiences in life and spiritually. The page length commentaries, however, were quite choppy. The ideas did not flow smoothly from one paragraph to the other. I was actually getting really anxious as to whether I was losing my mind since I was struggling really badly with these commentaries that I asked my non-reading husband to read a chapter or two. His view was that Goldingjay had tried to fit in too many points in one page so that the effect was that we get superficial thoughts over numerous ideas / points. There were instances that I found I didn’t agree with the author though I wonder whether that was a case of misunderstanding (miscommunication).

This book is, unfortunately, not one I’d be recommending to my friends. I think there needs to be some serious editing before it really is for everyone.

Thank you, Westminster John Knox Press for copy of eARC via NetGalley

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Review: The 30-Day Praise Challenge

harlingThe 30-Day Praise Challenge by Becky Harling
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Source: eARC courtesy of David C. Cook via NetGalley

Being a book-a-holic and reading challenge addict, the first thing which attracted my attention to this book was the word ‘challenge’ in the title. I’m sure many of you will understand where I’m coming from. Reading through the description of the book, what really appeals to me was the 20-minutes per day devotion which include prescribed praise songs. I used to lead a worship team at church and whilst my musical talent is minuscule in comparison to others, music speaks to my soul and I love to praise through songs.

I was really excited when I started this book and I was intentionally disciplined in my daily devotional throughout the 30 days. The first day felt slightly strange to me because of the perspective of the reading; it was as if God was speaking directly to the reader. However, as I take in the direction / purpose of the devotional, I came to enjoy this perspective and to appreciate what God’s perspectives might be in each topics.

The structure of the devotional is:
*Bible verse – to establish the topic and start us thinking in a particular direction
*A reading – written from the perspective of God direct to the reader’s heart on above topic with reference to other verses accompanied by a short paragraph from the author’s own heart
*Music – songs of praise are prescribed to suit topic, most of the time there are 2 but sometimes more
*Prayer – all in continued praises to God
*Journal – conclusion of devotional with a thinking question or two which requires own quiet / thinking / scribbling notes time.

I liked all the songs and loved quite a number of them. Most of them were available on youtube so with today’s connectivity, it was easily accessible. I found the prayers to be ingenious! It was a prayer of praise and yet, in a way it is a reminder to both God and ourselves of what God promises to do which feels like a request but not-a-request. It is praising God for who He is, for His promises, and is phrased unlike a request but really, it was. I’ve probably just made a muddle of it all but that’s the best way I can explain it.

The journals were my downfall. I confess to being one of those busy-unable-to-stay-still-or-quiet-for-one-minute-person. It is completely atrocious, I admit, and this will have to be my challenge next. To stay still for some minutes and meditate on God’s words. I will be getting a copy of this book for myself and a friend (who actually expressed an interest even though not a believer) as I’d like to give it another go especially with the sitting still & meditating section. It has been a wonderful experience and I look forward to learning more from it.

Thank you, David C. Cook via NetGalley for copy of eARC to read & review

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Review: Simply Jesus: Experiencing the One Your Heart Longs For

Simply Jesus: Experiencing the One Your Heart Longs For
Simply Jesus: Experiencing the One Your Heart Longs For by Joseph M. Stowell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

‘Simply Jesus’ – a slight volume (a mere 60 pages) that packed a punch. It reads simply and clearly but it’s made its point and met its purpose.

If you feel something is missing in your Christian walk or even if you wonder if this is it (of being a Christian), you’re probably missing something. Joseph M. Stowell shared that there is more to it – that experiencing Jesus in this life “makes the brightest treasures of life look dull by comparison”. You will be so taken by Jesus that there will be no looking back because you only want more of Jesus.

Asides from some examples and life-stories of how possible it is for ordinary people to have this kind of Jesus experience, this book also included some guidance of how we can have that ultimate experience. These tips may help but only if you’re willing.

Thank you WaterBrook Multnomah via Edelweiss for the privilege to read & review ebook

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Review: Tales from a Mountain City: A Vietnam War Memoir

Tales from a Mountain City: A Vietnam War Memoir by Quynh Dao
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Source: eARC courtesy of Odyssey Books via NetGalley

My interest in this book is due to my husband’s background. Whilst his ancestry is pure Chinese, his mother is Vietnamese Chinese and he himself was born in a refugee camp in Thailand prior to arriving in Australia when he was merely 3 months old. As far as I know my in-laws do not speak of their past to their children (hubby seems to mostly be ignorant of it, in any case) but due to language barrier, I can’t ask anyway. However, if they’d like the past to be buried, I’d have to respect their wishes. That doesn’t stop me checking out others’ experiences though.

Looking at the chronology, at the beginning of the book, it seems my in-laws must have been in Vietnam at around the same time and escaped maybe a year or two later than the author. My mother in-law is 12 years older than the author but her experience must be similar especially since they are from the same town, Dalat. What a small world this is!

This is a memoir of a childhood in Vietnam in times of war and of communist regime. From a readers’ viewpoint, we could probably see how frightening it was for the adults even from the little hints we were given from the author’s child’s perspective. They still tried to give as much to their children, to equip them as well as they could for adulthood. I first thought that it doesn’t seem that the author was too scared of what’s going on around her but at the end, I think I was wrong. She may not seem to be too scared. She was scared and she was also brave but as a child, you can easily pretend for things to be otherwise and ignore some of the more subtle hints of hardships.

It didn’t mean that she didn’t suffer hardship at all. She went through a lot and especially, noting her ‘bourgeois’ background, she was more often than not oppressed. She was unable to be herself, to truly express herself but instead it must all comply with the strict & unforgiving regime.

I was thrust into the next moment. I had no choice but to let go of my past life. To escape from my country! It seemed such an extraordinary decision that my parents had made for me. I suppose I could have questioned it; I might have hesitated. But I simply accepted it as though it were the most natural course of action in the world. It seemed as if, somewhere deep inside me, there was a powerful invisible force, something that defined me at the core of my being and protected my soul. The force now had hold of me and was pushing me towards where it wanted to take me, telling me what to do without my even being aware of it. ‘You are suffocating,’ it told me. ‘Here you have to gasp for air. You need to breathe freely. You have to go.’

I am caught my surprise at the expressive & fluency of the English language in this book. Sure some direct translation sounds funny but that’s always a given when it comes to such flowery language like Vietnamese or Chinese etc. It definitely helps with the reading though I still found who’s who in the book confusing. Maybe it will benefit from a family tree or a glossary. If you enjoy [b:Mao s Last Dancer], you will more than likely enjoy this book. I was a little disappointed though at where it ends, it’s left too many questions unanswered. I would love to know where these people are today. Maybe there’s a follow up…?

Thank you Odyssey Books and NetGalley for the privilege to read & review galley

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Review: Eighty Days: Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland’s History-Making Race Around the World

Eighty Days: Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland’s History-Making Race Around the World by Matthew Goodman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Source: eARC courtesy of Random House Publishing Group via Edelweiss – get your own copy from The Book Depository

Goodman has brought alive the 19th century world through his descriptions of how it would have looked like, how it would have smelt, and also the feelings our 2 heroines would have felt as seeing / smelling such sights. It is wonderful to have some perspectives as to what these 2 amazing women would have seen and lived through. I was most appreciative with the fact that due to the differences in background, Bly and Bisland had different views of the world and therefore, their own individual unique ways of approaching lives.

This book reads like a narrative switching between the 2 women and their respective travels interspersed with some interesting tidbits and historical insights to things and / or people these women seen and / or involved with. For example, the backgrounds of the paper and magazine which Bly and Bisland respectively worked for, descriptions of Bisland’s experience in Japan and Hong Kong and the comparative rickshaw and sedan rides, Bly’s adventurous into investigative journalism, and so on.

At the beginning, I loved Bly and her sense of adventure however at about midpoint of travel, some of the things revealed about her deflated my excitement about reading of her trip. Nevertheless, I still admired her for her accomplishment but I may not think her as a friend. That is, I don’t think the combination of our personalities will find us as close friends. Elizabeth Bisland, on the other hand, I found quite discouraging at the beginning of her travel. However, I found her to be someone closer to my own heart.

Non Fiction is not usually my cup of tea however I found this historical travelogue to be entertaining and I was, of course, cheering for Bly & Bisland to show the world what women can do should they put their minds and wills to it. A highly recommended read to all!

Thank you Ballantine Books and Edelweiss for the privilege to read & review galley

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Review: Spirit Hunger: Filling Our Deep Longing to Connect with God

Spirit Hunger: Filling Our Deep Longing to Connect with God
Spirit Hunger: Filling Our Deep Longing to Connect with God by Gari Meacham
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Source: eARC courtesy of Zondervan (via NetGalley) – get your own copy from The Book Depository

And once more, a book I read at God’s timing right to my heart. I’ve been feeling a little bit stuck in the rut but right in the first chapter, my heart was moved… Yes, this is exactly it, this is the problem… a ‘Spirit Hunger’, an emptiness, a longing for something…

Gari Meacham took me on a journey to experience God, to trust in Him more and more in all things. She shared from her personal experience from the beginning of her journey with God when she first placed her trust in Him, in seeking Him throughout her life all the ups and downs, her struggles and victories in Christ. She didn’t appear to hold anything back and I really appreciated this as it opened her up as someone whom opinions I could trust.

The other thing I really appreciated in this book is how she continuously referred to the Scripture! It was noticeable that there were verses running throughout the book to support her points or give examples but rather than annoying, I found them to be tremendously helpful and built upon that trust that her faith and her thoughts are Scripture-based.

I needed this book to propel me forward – I finished reading the book on Saturday and was truly touched and longed for that engagement with God that the next morning (Sunday), I bawled my eyes out at church. The sermon of the day, of course, asks how passionate are we about God? If one could cry in the presence of a celeb, then what do you feel in the presence of the Glory of God?

Note: Just to quickly mention that there were significantly lack of capitalisation but as it was a galley, hopefully these will be amended prior to publication. These bits distracted me most!

Thank you Zondervan & NetGalley for the privilege to read & review

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