When Hope Calls by David Lui

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

When Hope Calls: Based on a True Human Trafficking Story by David Lui

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Morris, a humanitarian worker, and the staff of a human rights organization receive a desperate phone call from a girl named Mya, saying she’s been kidnapped. She doesn’t know where she is, but Morris and his team are determined to find and rescue Mya as part of their fight against human trafficking in When Hope Calls by author David Lui.

Although I found this novella (based on a true story) categorized as a kidnapping thriller, the subject didn’t have me expecting thrills, and all things considered, I indeed wouldn’t call this a thrilling read.

It’s suspenseful, but for much of the time, the characters are waiting in dismal silence. Fiction-wise, the plot development suffers from emotional lows that are overwritten and redundant, with the characters sitting in abject despair for hours and spending a good amount of time feeling sorry for themselves and this place in their careers or lives. On a more technical note, there are some missing words and recurring errors in punctuation.

However, sometimes a story’s message and purpose are bigger than the story, and that’s okay. This quick and relevant read serves to raise awareness of a widespread, urgent real-life issue, without sugarcoating it but also without resorting to unnecessary vulgarity. It’s a call to remind humanity that we have to fight against modern-day slavery.


Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Karana is twelve years old when her people leave their island, but circumstances leave her behind. Her story of years of survival on her own unfolds in Island of the Blue Dolphins by author Scott O’Dell.

After recently reading and becoming engrossed in Sing Down the Moon by the same author, I decided to revisit this Newbery Medal-winning children’s classic based on true events. I remember listening to the reading of it back when I was eleven or so, but the author’s writing style didn’t do much for me back then.

So I tried again, curious to see if adulthood would give me a new appreciation for this book. As I read, it reminded me of the movie Cast Away at times, what with a lone human being fending for herself on an island: building shelter, hunting and gathering food, facing the elements and hostile wild animals, etc. And some parts here and there moved me, particularly near the beginning.

On the whole, though, this still wasn’t the most interesting book for me. Lots of solitude, very little dialogue, and although the heroine is a brave, self-reliant girl-turned-woman, I wouldn’t have stuck with this understated account about living in nature if I didn’t know it would be a quick read.

Still, because I have enjoyed one book by this author, I plan on trying at least one more.


First Light by Erynn Newman

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

First Light by Erynn Newman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Drew and Elisabeth have loved each other since their teenaged years. But the personal tragedy that hits their lives on September 11th shakes the foundation of their relationship in First Light by author Erynn Newman.

Well! This novelette pulled me right in. The moments I liked best said just enough, as leaving out elaborations of implied information can be smart and compelling, especially in short reads.

The ending became oversweet for me, maybe because a more minimal approach was working well earlier in the story. But even so, I’d say these romantic vignettes with a dash of danger are an effective setup for a romantic suspense novel to follow.


And the romantic suspense novel that follows is Out of Darkness.


Finding Love Isn’t All about Your Looks, Age, Etc.

This is a rare kind of post for me, but I had a feeling someone might need to hear it right about now, a week before Valentine’s Day.

And even with the title of this post, can I admit “finding love” is an iffy expression for me? Sure, I use it to be understood, and I get what it means, but many people give and receive love. Facilitate and nurture love. Cherish and protect love. They acknowledge and recognize love…but they don’t necessarily just “find” it, as if love is something they can hunt for in the woods or locate in the city with the assistance of signs and arrows. “Hey, look—there’s some love for me over here! I just found it.”

But anyhow.

I get the impression sometimes that people think one’s looks, age, and certain other basic or obvious factors are either automatic guarantees or automatic hindrances to romantic companionship.

I figure there’s a lot in society, from many romantic movies and romance novels to the various cultures of different social and religious circles, that makes folks believe or assume that everybody who desires romance is supposed to find the right companion by their early-to-mid twenties or so…

…and that if it doesn’t happen for you by then, something must be wrong. Or something must be wrong with you. Likewise, the further you get away from your early-to-mid twenties, the greater the wrongness must be if you still haven’t met that wonderful someone.

(Granted, I’m sure biology and the window of prime childbearing years has plenty to do with people’s thoughts about love’s appropriate/optimal timeline.)

Nevertheless, as far as physical attractiveness goes, I do want to point out that getting hit on and such isn’t the same thing as having serious companionship, of course, and receiving attention and propositions and offers because of one’s looks doesn’t necessarily make finding the right companion any easier. It can even make it harder, as more incoming attention can mean there’s more incoming pretense and all other kinds of stuff a person has to sort through, question, sidestep, or even run away from on the romance road.

Just saying.

Really, there are people some folks consider to be strange or plain who end up with the love of their lives straight out of high school or college, and there are people who have plenty of positives going for them but are in their forties or fifties, still single and looking. Some folks know who they’re going to marry from the time they’re children, and other folks go through series of prospects that don’t work out before they meet the right person. Some people are grumpy, sloppy, and happily coupled, and other folks are sweet, neat, and still alone.

Now, I’m not dismissing the fact that sometimes there are issues hindering romance besides “it just hasn’t happened yet.” A person may have some learning, growing, healing, or other preparation that needs to take place before they’ll be ready for what it takes to have a healthy romantic relationship.

Still, meeting someone for suitable companionship simply doesn’t happen for everyone at the same time of life or after a “magic number” of tries or dates—no matter who they are, what they look like, what their personalities are like, whether they first meet people online or in person, or whatever the case may be. Just because you haven’t met someone who’s right for you doesn’t necessarily mean something is wrong. Life unfolds differently for everybody, on different timelines.

And that’s okay.

For me as an author, while romance isn’t my primary genre, I write romances to reflect that real love isn’t all about one’s looks or age, and that being or finding the “ideal” package isn’t necessarily an easy ticket to a Happily Ever After.

Even so, I believe romantic love is beautiful, and I do aim to write stories of hope, even when a couple’s journey won’t be easy.