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A “Mixture” of Stories that Takes You Around the World

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Rojak: Stories from the Singapore Writers’ Group

by Alice Clark-Platts & Others

5 star

5 Stars

RojakHaving recently arrived in Singapore and looking to read some of the best local writing, I was rewarded when I read this gem of a short story anthology. The Malay word for “mixture,” Rojak is an apt title for this collection of short, easy-to-read stories that take the reader around the world and leaves them with exotic tastes to savor and provoking thoughts to ponder. It is indeed the “perfect mix of short stories for the adventurous and the armchair traveler” with tales from Singapore to Mexico, England, South Africa, and elsewhere. There’s something for everyone in this book.

The anthology is well written and edited. Some stories are concise with clear endings while others end leaving the reader craving more. All pack a strong punch, filled with emotion and depth in mere pages. Many could serve as the basis of full-length novels. Although written by 19 authors with diverse writing styles and interests, the book features a coherent narrative and themes guided by the deft hand of Singapore Writers’ Group founder Alice Clark-Platts, who brought an eclectic “mixture” of members together to write this anthology.

I’m looking forward to reading more short stories from the Singapore Writers’ Group and follow-on works by the book’s contributors. Read this book for a taste of what this talented group has to offer, and if you are in Singapore, get to know the SWG. It has a bright future on the Singapore literary scene.

I give Rojak five (5) stars and recommend it to anyone interested in Singapore, travel stories, or well-written short stories.

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Lessons for Life in Small, Tasty Bites

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Small Bites 4.0 by Jim Yarbrough

5 star

5 Stars

Small Bites 19058879Many of life’s lessons are packed into this powerful book. Filled with stories, anecdotes and quotes, Small Bites invites the reader to enjoy – no, savor – the author’s wisdom in “small bites.” Broken into discreet chapters and themes, it offers a series of short stories with lessons learned, acronyms, and structured outlines to help the reader remember salient points, and page breaks to give them time to jot down their own thoughts.

At its heart, this is a management book for life. But it’s more than that. It’s a guide intended to help the discerning reader find an easier path on the road of life. Light on spirituality but heavy on profundity, the book weaves the strands of wisdom from many ancient and modern philosophies into a beautiful tapestry of poetry and prose. Few books quote Gandhi, Michael Josephson, Mark Twain, John Wooden, and others with such eloquence.

I enjoyed the personal stories that the author shared showing his humanity and his quest to rise above the challenges that made him a better person. Not many writers are so willing to share some of the most difficult – and compromising – moments of their lives with an unknown audience, but Yarbrough did. And he did it with class, using his own lessons learned to demonstrate a better way the reader can follow.

The author wrote this book for his three children. It’s a labor of love they can cherish forever. He could have kept this treasure to himself or in the family, but he chose instead to share it with all of us. I appreciate his sincerity and learned at least one take-away in each chapter applicable to my own life. This is the kind of book you don’t read once; you read it over and over again to glean new insights. If I have any quibble about this wonderful book, it is this – I hope that the author’s next book will expound more on his own great quotes.

I give Small Bites five (5) stars and highly recommend it to anyone with an open mind, a willingness to learn, and who enjoys wisdom in small, succinct bites.

Small Bites 4.0 is now available at:

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Personal Accounts of the Vietnam War Hit Close to Home

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The Conflict that was a War: In Vietnam and at Home by Jim B. Money and 19 Vietnam Veterans

5 star

5 Stars

Vietnam conflictTo say that this book has heart is an understatement. Nineteen veterans who served in Vietnam between 1965 and 1972 poured their personal stories on the page to tell those of us who never experienced the Vietnam War what it’s been like to fight it for more than 40 years – first in ‘Nam and then at home. One cannot read this book without being touched by the veterans’ unforgettable tales of devastation and facing unspeakable horrors that few ever experience. Their thoughts, emotions, and insights are laid bare for all of us to read.

Because of the bitter divisiveness and controversy of the war (not a conflict) and the trauma inflicted on those who survived Vietnam and returned home to a frigid reception, their stories too long were untold. No longer. These authors’ unvarnished and frank narratives pull no punches in the faces of the faint of heart, the easily offended, or those who treated the Vietnam veterans with contempt.

Regardless of one’s view of the Vietnam War, these accounts are critical to understanding what really happened and how those involved were affected. One must remember and learn from a war that many wanted to forget so that the past is never repeated. These soldiers’ stories help preserve the legacy of the war, from the Band of Brothers to the Agent Orange and anti-war protests. Whether one agrees with what has been written is not as important as reading the book to understand the fall out of a conflict in Vietnam and at home that, in some ways, is still being fought by those who remain.

The book is written from the unique perspectives of veterans who served in different branches of the U.S. Military across South Vietnam at the height of the war. If you’re the child or descendant of a Vietnam veteran and want to know but are afraid to ask why they won’t or can’t talk about the war, read this book. It may be the closest you’ll get to talking about Vietnam with your own parent or grandparent.

As the son of a Vietnam veteran, I am proud of these veterans for having the courage to share stories that they have held inside for decades. I give this book five (5) stars and highly recommend it to active military, veterans, their families, and anyone interested in the learning more about the Vietnam War.

The Conflict that was a War is now available at:

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