Carrie Kellenberger's Reviews > Formosa Moon

Formosa Moon by Joshua Samuel Brown
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it was amazing
bookshelves: culture, travel, travel-guides, taiwan, memoirs, cultural-taiwan

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. You can pre-order through Amazon. A beautiful and a very enchanting wander through Taiwan.














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Quotes Carrie Liked

Joshua Samuel Brown
“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


Reading Progress

June 8, 2018 – Started Reading
June 8, 2018 – Shelved
June 8, 2018 – Shelved as: culture
June 8, 2018 – Shelved as: travel
June 8, 2018 – Shelved as: travel-guides
June 8, 2018 – Shelved as: taiwan
June 20, 2018 – Shelved as: memoirs
June 20, 2018 – Finished Reading
November 12, 2018 – Shelved as: cultural-taiwan

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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message 1: by Kuang (new) - added it

Kuang Ting Thank you for the nice review! It’s interesting to see my country through foreigners’ eyes:)


Carrie Kellenberger It's my pleasure. I've lived in Taiwan since 2006. It's a beautiful country!


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