du beonjjae gihoe

It has been said that you never get a second chance to make a first impression. After reading “The Korean Word for Butterfly” by James Zerndt, I would argue that this is not true.

After my inconsiderate review of “The Cloud Seeders,” (in which I’m now almost embarrassed to admit I suggested that had I paid for the book, I would have returned it for my money back, while still stating that I’d still like to read his other novel) Zerndt was kind enough to lend me a copy of “The Korean Word for Butterfly.”

Apparently, there was indeed something about Zerndt’s writing skill that kept me drawn into “The Cloud Seeders,” in spite of an overall distaste for the book. I suffered no similar disappointments regarding “The Korean Word for Butterfly.”

“The Korean Word for Butterfly” is a moving novel that addresses racial stereotypes, relationships, unplanned pregnancy and abortion. Each character is beautifully written and developed with clear motivations, ready to take wing from the page into the reader’s imagination.

The book follows the story of two young Americans, Billie and Joe, who falsely apply to teach English to Korean students, as well as several members of the Korean school system they meet along the way. Each individual character emerges fresh and new from their chrysalis, empathetically formed with a back-story that allows the reader to draw a deep connection. In the midst of Billie and Joe’s short tenure with the Korean school, tragedy strikes Korea when two young girls are run over by an American tank, and they find themselves struggling not only to maintain their charade but to learn how to cope with a new level of anti-American sentiment within this foreign country.

There are brilliant touches of classic irony interwoven into “The Korean Word for Butterfly.” Billie, who finds herself unexpectedly pregnant and feeling alone in deciding how best to cope with this, unknowingly is drawn to try to befriend the school secretary, Yun-ji, who is also quietly deciding on her own how she will deal with an unexpected pregnancy from a brief fling with an American soldier.

Equally touching is the story of Moon, working at the school and clinging desperately to sobriety in an effort to regain his relationship with his ex-wife and his son.

As the novel reached its climax, and all too soon afterward conclusion, I found myself clinging to the characters, unwilling to watch them flit away.

I would highly recommend this book to those who enjoy classic fiction and are looking for fresh voices, as well as any readers who enjoy fiction on Asian culture. At $2.99, this book is a great buy for the Kindle.

According to Zerndt’s Amazon page, he is seeking a publisher for a third novel, “Where Cute and Crazy Meet at Midnight.” When available, this book will certainly be on my list to purchase. I hope that Zerndt has once again found the intoxicating voice with which he breathed life into the characters from “The Korean Word for Butterfly.”

(The title of this blog post is Korean for “second chances,” according to a Google translation.)



Slightly confused by my dystopian adventure

I generally don’t finish reading books that I don’t really like, and therefore, I don’t offer very many reviews on books that didn’t really take my breath away.

However, there was something about “The Cloud Seeders” by James Zerndt that kept me drawn into the story, even though I wasn’t “in love” with the book.

This science fiction/fantasy novel is the tale of two brothers who live in a dystopian America plagued by drought. “Water cops” run rampant, enforcing strict regulations on the conservation of water and energy. The story follows the two brothers’ journey to discover what has happened to their parents, accompanied by the older brother’s girlfriend.

From the beginning, I found myself feeling like the story, while compelling, was also a bit flawed in its logic. Near the beginning of the story, the reader is told that Jerusha (the girlfriend) and Thomas both know what has happened to the boys’ parents, which left me wondering for the entire remainder of the book what possible reason she had for accompanying them through these trials when Thomas said he was taking Dustin to find their parents.

There is a lot of profanity (this is noted in the description on Amazon), and there was one moment in the story that made me feel very uncomfortable and squeamish. I think that both of these situations were an attempt to portray the way Dustin had missed out on his childhood, and as such, were likely powerful literary devices to make that point, as they definitely evoked strong reactions.

Additionally, the book would benefit from some minor editing and proofreading. However, this doesn’t detract from the overall story.

Personally, if I had purchased this book for my own reading pleasure, I would likely have been disappointed and would possibly have returned it for my money back. However, as a free Kindle book, I felt like it was a powerful story and was definitely satisfied.

Although I didn’t feel like this story was “for me,” I find myself oddly interested in reading his other novel currently available through Amazon, “The Korean Word for Butterfly.”

I don’t recommend this book at the $2.99 price tag, but if you enjoy dystopian science fiction/fantasy, I’d definitely suggest keeping an eye out to see if this book pops up as a free offering once again. This book, and Zerndt’s other works, is also available to read for free for Kindle Unlimited members.

The Waiting Room blog tour – more information

Can’t get enough of “The Waiting Room”? Be sure to check in on the upcoming blog tour!

The Wessex Literary Review

10477417_347452278741545_3617179956241689341_nAs previously posted, we are proud to be part of the blog tour to promote Alysha Kaye’s new novel the Waiting Room. A series of posts, interviews, reviews and other promotional hi-jinks and literary shenanigans are taking place over a succession of days, just like a virtual tour. Please check out the other sites supporting the tour and helping give new authors the exposure that they need.

Here’s the line-up:

7/10 The Owl Lady

7/11 Ronovan Writes

7/12 Penny Dreadful Book Reviews

7/13 My train of thoughts on…

7/14 The Wessex Literary Review

7/15 A Simple, Village Undertaker

7/16 Fran the Bookie

7/17 Loving Life in the Rain

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Finding what you’re looking for

While I found an enjoyable read (albeit not quite what I was looking for) for my Saturday shorts, I also finished another e-book Saturday which was exactly what I was looking for.

A Winter Dandelion” by Amy Steiner was a delightful journey of recovery and learning to “let go and let God.” I’d highly recommend this book to anyone dealing with the struggles of being a caretaker to an older parent or loved-one. Full of poignant humor, this book is a journey that leads the reader through dementia and past abuse, past raising your own children, and ends in letting go and realizing that you have to let everyone make their own decisions and mistakes.

I found this book during a search, sorted by price, for “recovery fiction.” I had been looking over a couple of free books given to me by an author on the subject of stroke and missionary discipleship, and they just didn’t pique my interest the way I had hoped they might (I will return to finish these books at some point). What those two books did do for me was cause me to realize the hang-ups on my current writing project — the fear that a memoir dealing with stroke recovery may be too private and the fear that no one will find the work interesting.

And then I began to wonder, what about a work of fiction (perhaps even a series focusing on different scenarios, if successful), loosely based on my experience? Could it work? Would it be interesting?

I’ve read medical thrillers and medical romance, but I couldn’t recall any simple “medical fiction,” something that specifically dealt with the day-to-day details of dealing with a medical situation. I suppose there’s probably a lot of generic fiction that does deal with these issues, but I didn’t know how to find it specifically.

However, my search worked. “A Winter Dandelion” was exactly the sort of book I was looking for to tell me that a simple fiction dealing lightly with medical issues and recovery in the context of literature can, and does, work.

Published in 2011, “A Winter Dandelion” is Steiner’s only work available for the Kindle. I hope to see more from her in the future. Regularly priced at $2.99, I feel like this is a nice read for the price, and Steiner does periodically offer a free promotional period for the book.

Book Review: The Waiting Room by Alysha Kaye

The Waiting Room Print 03

Rate: 4 out of 5 stars. I loved, enjoyed it, and would love to recommend this to everyone!

First of all, can we talk about the cover? It’s so pretty and I love it.

I always thought the term “true love never dies” is bullshit. After all, nothing last forever because in the end we all are gonna die, right? But I never really thinking what happened after we all die? Where are we going next? Either straight to hell or heaven?

The Waiting Room follows Jude, who dies in a car accident, and find himself wake up in The Waiting Room, place where all the souls waiting to go on to their next life, except Jude. He spent his entire time there watching his wife Nina through a window, until one day he learns that he’s the only one who ever wait that long. How long will he stay?…

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First Review of THE WAITING ROOM!

More opinions on “The Waiting Room”

Alysha Kaye

So happy and excited to read my novel’s first review by author and journalist S.K. Gregory.

Read it here.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED?!Well, my Wednesday is clearly MADE.

I’ve also pasted it here:

The Waiting Room by Alysha Kaye

What happens to us after we die? Are we reunited with our loved ones? In The Waiting Room, Jude, a thirty year old man, is killed in a car accident. He awakens in a ‘waiting room,’ where the dead go before they move on to their next life. Except, Jude, isn’t moving on.

He spends his time watching his wife Nina, wishing he could be reunited with her. From the variety of waiting room assistants including his friend Joe, he learns that people move on quickly. Everyone except him. Is he an anomaly? Or is his love for Nina keeping him there?

Alysha Kaye creates an interesting concept on what the…

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