Book Review: Formosa Moon by Joshua Samuel Brown and Stephanie Huffman
Carrie Kellenberger‘s review of Formosa Moon.
From time to time, my work brings me unexpected treasure in the line of being able to read or edit for my author friends.
Here is my book review for Formosa Moon by Joshua Samuel Brown and Stephanie Huffman.
I’ve known Joshua Samuel Brown since 2007. He has authored more than 15 books on his own and for guide book companies like Lonely Planet, Fodor’s and more. As his friend and as a fellow writer and editor, Josh made sure I had an advance reader copy of his new book – parts of which I had already read while he was in the midst of writing this with his partner Stephanie Huffman.
A major plus to working in the publishing industry and in the travelsphere is being able to read and edit for my author friends. Nothing brings me greater joy than being able to give my friends constructive advice or five out of five stars for excellent writing.
Out of all the authors I know, Joshua is certainly the most talented. His partner Stephanie has some mighty fine writing chops as well. Thank you so much for including me on another book, Joshua. Your newest manuscript is queued up and ready to go on my Kindle.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Whether you know Taiwan intimately or want to see it through an expert’s eyes as someone who has never been, Formosa Moon is an enchanting wander through Taiwan, written as a love story between Taiwan expert and Lonely Planet author, Joshua Samuel Brown; and his partner Stephanie Huffman, a newcomer to Taiwan and to Asia.
Formosa Moon is told from two perspectives, each chapter partitioned off by icons of the authors so the reader can experience both sides of each adventure. The couple recounts their tales of traveling around the island and falling in love with Taiwan’s complex history, its sweet but slightly zany citizens, all while offering a deep exploration of Taiwan along with practical information for newcomers and expats alike.
Formosa Moon introduces Taiwan in such a way that will never make you forget how utterly unique and charming this tiny island is.
Brown is a leading expert on Taiwan and well known for his personal tours of Taiwan. When he creates the ultimate Taiwan itinerary and journey for his love so she can experience his beloved second home through his eyes, we come full circle to Formosa Moon, a beautifully honest adventure about life in Taiwan, designed to seduce Brown’s love and their readers into falling in love with Taiwan. Ultimately, as we learn about Taiwan, we also learn about the love between these two travelers that share an mutual respect for exploring, and on both sides, for enduring some not so tempting parts about Taiwan.
In Huffman’s case, dietary restrictions become a real adventure and challenge, but in this challenge, readers learn what to expect and what not to expect from culinary cuisine in Taiwan. On Brown’s side, we read about some adventures he has done in the past that turned out equally as uncomfortable for him as the first time around.
Having lived in Taiwan since 2006, parts of this book are things I know well about Taiwan, but it’s like I forgot what I’ve seen myself – much of it through Brown’s suggestions to me in his other books – and was reminded once again of how unique this island is. This book will make you fall in love with Taiwan.
I loved how the authors set up the chapter list, so this gets an extra A+ for originality for its chapter headings. I rarely look at the chapter list, but I had a good laugh at the opening in this one. Some of my favorite chapters in the book are:
*But first, an offshore adventure
*Our whirlwind tour kicks into high gear
*The moon represents my heart (One of the most beautiful chapters in this book.)
*Puppets and astrological errors
*The winding road to autonomy
*Keeping up appearances
*Dark night of the soul
*A peculiar mingling of love and death
*We find ourselves managing a hotel (This chapter is hilarious.)
Best Takeaway Quotes:
“Once it drew me into its gravity, this strange and alien land I’ve chosen to call home for long stretches has been the one true constant in my life. Taiwan has granted me a near-constant reprieve from my most feared nemesis, boredom, but at times she’s driven me half-mad. Taiwan has been my muse, the source of inspiration for much of my creative output as a writer, while at the same time never quite letting me forget that the language in which I write is not the lingua franca of the place about which I write. I have loved Taiwan for nearly all of my adult life. At times this love has shone as brilliantly as the moon over Kenting during the Mid-Autumn Festival, at others far less brightly, like a crescent moon during the long rainy season in Taipei,…. So when I sang it was this love for Taiwan, waxing and waning, but always present, that I felt.” ~Joshua Samuel Brown, Formosa Moon
Yuraw thought for a moment before saying that he would like to sing us a song. I was totally delighted as the deputy chief of Smangus began singing to us in his own language, drawing pictures in the air with his hands of mountains, rivers, and trees. His voice was strong and deep, and the fire pit glowed a dull red as the darkening sky wrapped around us. The love he felt for his community was palpable and for a moment the area transformed into a timeless space where the remoteness seemed the only thing in existence. -Stephanie Huffman, Formosa Moon
Grandfather Shi must have loved Ita Thao. His relatives were certainly making his last hours there memorable ones. Though the ceremony did not have strippers (at least none that we saw), there was no shortage of other elements designed to produce ‘hot noise’ that’s an indispensable feature of any Taiwanese funeral. Designed to celebrate the life of the deceased and ensure their smooth passing into the next world, Grandfather Shi’s hot noise included gongs mixed with rigorous Buddhist chanting, pop music, karaoke, and later, a live band complete with drummers and an accordion. All of this was taking place under a covered tent set up in the alleyway next to the Cherry Feast Resort, where we’d booked a three-day stay in advance.”. ~Joshua Samuel Brown, Formosa Moon
Publication Date: October 2018.
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Joined in February 2009
I’m a Canadian expat in Taiwan. I’ve been living in Asia since 2003. I am an avid bibliophile, and it’s rare for me not to finish a book. I love receiving suggestions from my friends, especially if they know my reading tastes. In particular, I love historical fiction, Asian literature; fantasy – especially epic fantasy, and young adult fiction.
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