Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Junko Cheng Is at Saddleback and Has a Special Forces Kids CD

I had gone to a Junko Cheng concert at a Chinese church in the San Francisco Bay Area several years ago and wondered what she was up to nowadays. To my surprise and delight, she is now a worship leader at a "small" ministry called Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California. Junko leads both adult and children's worship services.

Her latest CD, Special Forces Kids, came out in 2008 and could be characterized as "pop music with the upbeat sound and upright message enjoyed by kids, tweeners, and grownups alike." Junko's website also contains videos of her and some young helpers doing hand motions to a song.

I like the piece "How Deep Is the Love of Christ." It emphasizes the boundlessness of God's love for us.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Prayer Life, Produced by Nitin Adsul of EastWest Films

Nitin Adsul was born in India, but now resides in the Washington DC area. Before forming EastWest Films with a partner, he acted in movies and television shows such as "The Wire," on HBO and "As the World Turns," on CBS.

"Prayer Life" is the first film he has produced with EastWest Films. It won the Jury Award at the WYSIWYG Film Festival and the Best Storyteller Award at the Redemptive Film Festival, both in 2007.

The plot revolves around a corporate cover-up in which an attorney, with the help of his religiously grounded wife, his no-nonsense computer hacker brother-in-law, and a corporate executive struggling with his conscience, tries to prove his client's innocence of an accounting fraud charge that other company executives try to pin on her.

I thought the movie did a good job of making the viewer sympathetic toward the protagonist attorney and his client. The story presented people with real problems. I look forward to seeing more of EastWest's films.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Larissa Lam's "Revolutionary" Album Is Truly Revolutionary

Larissa is no stranger to the world of entertainment. In 2005, she released her third album, "Revolutionary," and has collaborated with top musicians and producers who have worked with artists like Prince and Christina Aguilera. Most recently, she can be heard on the Beautiful Faith compilation with a fresh take on the classic "Listen to Our Hearts."

Larissa grew up in Diamond Bar, California, and began taking piano lessons at age five. By age thirteen, she had written her first song. She graduated from UCLA and became the Chief Financial Officer for independent label NSOUL Records. Larissa can be seen each week on JCTV, a Christian television network, as the host of their talk show, Top 3.

I like the song, "Miss Everything," as it expresses her thanks for what she has been given. The words of the song tell a story that people can relate to, especially in a materialistic society.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

American Born Chinese, by Gene Luen Yang, Multiple Award-Winning Graphic Novel

Gene Luen Yang's colorfully illustrated graphic novel weaves three distinct stories together depicting his experiences growing up Asian American. The first stars the Monkey King, folk hero of Chinese legend; the second recounts the struggles of a Chinese-American boy trying to fit into a predominantly white suburb; and the third is a sit-com starring everybody's favorite racial stereotype, Cousin Chin-Kee.

Tweens, teens and adults will enjoy the book on different levels. I asked a thirteen-year-old boy to read it and give me his opinion. He thought it was interesting and funny. The plots were easy to follow, however, he did not perceive any deep spiritual message in it. I enjoyed reading it also and could appreciate the plot twists and how the author took a traditional Chinese tale and stories from the Bible and made them his own. A great book to start spiritual discussions from.

This book has won multiple awards including the Michael A. Printz Award, Publisher's Weekly Best Book of the Year, and was a National Book Award finalist in 2006.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Spend a Summer Day with Ming Chou's New Album

Ming is not your stereotypical computer programmer. He is a pioneering Asian voice in Contemporary Christian music and has devoted the last six years to writing and singing inspiring songs. But growing up in Los Angeles, music was not a major part of his life.

After graduating from UCLA with a Computer Science degree, Ming moved to Silicon Valley. However, his high paying job left him hollow, so he put it behind to embark on a wild journey of self-discovery.

Ming's mission is to spread encouraging radiant music and give a testimony of a changed life. Ming recorded his debut album "Summer Day" at the same studio as Jeremy Camp, with musicians that have worked with the David Crowder Band, Incubus, and many others.

I especially like his work "King of Kings." This song ponders the question of how a glorious infinite God could love sinners like you and me. I can hear this song being sung in worship services across America.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Eva Sabiniano: 12-Year-Old Singing Sensation Was Born to Praise

Eva Sabiniano is an up and coming Christian singer. Living in Lynnwood, Washington, she has been singing since she was three years old. At twelve years old, she has already recorded two albums, Born to Praise 1 and 2. With a mesmerizing mix of Christian pop sung in an age-appropriate voice, she has a long career ahead of her. Styles vary from children's to gospel to rhythm and blues to Contemporary Christian. Young people and adults will enjoy the album.

I like "Jesus Is Always With You." It reminds me he loves us and is with us no matter what our situation is. The proceeds from her CDs benefit needy children and other ministries.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Deadly Intent, by Camy Tang--Gripping Inspirational Romantic Suspense

Deadly Intent is set in a Sonoma, California spa run by Naomi Grant, who is of Japanese and white descent. One of her clients is murdered and she is one of the main suspects. The other suspect, Dr. Devon Knightley, is her love interest. Both become murder targets as well.

This was a fun read as I love going to spas and reading mysteries. Camy writes "romance with a kick of wasabi" and this book has just the right "kick." Readers are engrossed in the story before they learn Naomi's ancestry or the name of the spa. The protagonist's feelings and actions are influenced by her culture, but not in an overt or stereotypical way. The story will appeal to a wide audience.

Monday, August 3, 2009

More Than Serving Tea: Asian American Women on Expectations, Relationships, Leadership and Faith

More Than Serving Tea shares true stories of how Asian American Christian women must navigate three cultures; Asian, American and Christian, that sometimes conflict with each other. Being pulled by expectations, perfectionist tendencies, and swallowing suffering are a few of the problems many AAC women face. I really like this book as it is very eye-opening. It speaks to me and elucidates areas that I suspected were true of many AAC women, but were never fully delineated. I' ve learned something about myself and others around me.

Kudos to Nikki A. Toyama, Tracey Gee, Kathy Khang, Christie Heller de Leon, Asifa Dean and Jeanette Yep for their roles in compiling this book.