Karen Joan "Siren" -
Top 1000 Reviewer
5-stars Very Interesting And Realistic Characters
"I really enjoyed this excerpt from MU SHU MAC & CHEESE; author Karen Lin
clearly has a flare for bringing characters to life. From Elaine and her stress
dealing with her visiting mother-in-law, to the traditional, strong, Chinese
matriarch, and on to the sheepish husband and typical teenage kids, Ms. Lin has
us hooked with her realistic, sympathetic, and very funny characters. Not only
does she capture the readers' attention, but she engages us emotionally as
well. In just a few short pages, the reader is captivated by this family and
really needs to know how they are going to survive each other for 10 whole
Gayla M. Collins
5-stars Chinese Mother-in-law for takeout?"First, the title caught my attention immediately. As a voracious reader of 40+ years titles have been known to jump out and grab me into purchasing a book. This was so clever.
Secondly, what a fun, original, unique story that swirls cultures,daughter-in-laws, mother-in-laws, sons that become jello when around their mother, and teen-agers into a pot of delicious mirth. Crisp humor, decadent descriptions, and a flow to the plot enaged me completely.....until, it ended. "More, please."
I gagged at the authentic Chinese delicacies but I am from Montana and we just don't eat that cuisine.( and no I DON'T eat Rocky Mountain Oysters) Warm and welcoming, this was a scrumptious beginning.
I hope this books makes it through, but if not shop it around to agents as this has best seller for cozy reading all over it.
Great job." and "So fun...can't you see this being a must buy cozy read....love the humor and also the poignant moments....Tyler....what he has to adjust to....do you suppose he goes to the prom in the Chinese wedding clothes?
"My overall opinion of this excerpt is very positive. The writing is excellent and, in describing the visit of a Chinese mother-in-law, the author uses much wit and humor. Though I felt a bit sorry for Elaine, I believed her Chinese John Wayne would be there to help her through an eight-day visit from his mother."
"There are excellent themes in this excerpt. Elaine's family is bi-racial, and her husband's Chinese mother is coming to visit. Themes of tradition, family loyalty, culture, and coming of age are presented...This excerpt definitely hold the reader's attention, as the minutiae of the family's life and the conflicts introduced are exciting and relevant.Janet Fogg
5 stars The Bittersweet Bonds of Family!
"These few pages of Mu Shu Mac & Cheese captured so much, so
swiftly, that I was sad to leave the world created by Karen Lin. Karen deftly
and humorously offers up the irony of relationships we marry into. Now I'm
concerned about how her main character, Elaine, will cope with this visit from
Ma Yang, Elaine's Chinese mother-in-law, and especially how Elaine's teenage
son will handle Ma Yang's interference with prom. Talk about pressure!
More reviews from ABNA 2008
"I just loved this tale of culture clash. I could picture each character and, as a woman with a mother-in-law, I totally feel for Elaine. But I will grudgingly admit to sympathy for Wen, who was truly stuck between a rock and a hard place. I really want to know who wins out in the end." - Audrey Wyatt
"The excerpt is great--both funny and touching in the universal theme of mother-in-laws! Hints at cultural and personal conflicts to come and leaves the reader wanting more. Mu Shu Mac & Cheese has my vote!" - Lynn MacRitchie
"No, not international politics, but family relations when American
and Chinese cultures come together by virtue of marriage. Deftly told in
fiction form. An award-winner -- and it's easy to understand why."
"This is a very engaging and well written excerpt. I loved the
distinctive characters and fretting contradictions of the narrators worries.
Pacing and voice were both dead on and I'd be eager to read more. I gave four
stars rather than five only for the few unanswered questions that made me stop
and wonder rather than keep reading. Why not is Elaine worried about telling her
mother in law that she's an ox and not a tiger. After all they have been
married 20 years. And why at times does it seem like this is the first feeling
out between the two when they've been married two decades and once lived nearer
to each other? It is very likely those questions are answered soon enough but
they did make me pause in my reading to consider the answer. Also I should note
that I like the very brief prologue of Elaine and Wen's meeting.
5-stars Funny, sweet, vivid, enticing
"Karen Lin uses words the way her character, Elaine, uses spices: skillfully, enticingly. Mu Shu Mac & Cheese is so vivid and endearing I was immediately transported to Elaine's kitchen. I love the way Lin interweaves the subtle relationships of family with food and Chinese culture, with liberal dashes of humor. Her description of the Chinese mother-in-law charging in to rearrange Elaine's home made me laugh out loud...I laughed in a few other places, too. Along the way Lin provides a matter-of-fact yet fascinating education in things Chinese--feng shui, 8 as a lucky number, exotic foods, and other traditions. I want more of these lovable characters...more Mu Shu Mac-N-Cheese please."
More 5-star reviews by writers:
"I devoured this excerpt. When I came to its end, the skin on my arms uncomfortably goose-bumpy from the emotions she conjured out of my own mixed-culture marriage's past, I found myself wanting more. I look forward to reading what battles of will are surely to unfold between Elaine and her mother-in-law during the eight day visit from hell." - Thom Phelps
"Karen Lin's Mu Shu Mac & Cheese brings the reader immediately into the clashing cultures of the traditional Chinese mother-in-law and the blond wife from Kansas. The details and voice of these chapters bring the reader right into the conflict, laughing even at the most uncomfortable moments. I was disappointed to reach the end of the excerpt, and look forward to reading the whole book some day soon. The writing is so seamless it appears effortless, which is certainly the hallmark of a talented writer." - Laura K. Deal
"This is a delightful excerpt that leaves you wanting more. From the
Chinese mother-in-law rearranging Elaine's home to her dressing teens for prom
in garish robes, the reader is swept up into the culture clash between China
and Boulder, Colorado. Karen Lin's characters come alive on the page with their
humor and her clever descriptions. Karen deftly weaves Chinese astrology to
feng shui into the family dynamics, making this a fun read.
"This voice is so refreshingly real. Through Elaine's eyes, we see those details that so perceptively capture complex, internal feelings. This "tumultuous swirl of East and West" invites me into a world that, externally, is completely new; yet, internally, is so familiar. Thanks, Karen, for creating and sharing this fine piece of literature. I look forward to reading more." - Cathleen Schmitt
"I found myself sweating along with Kansas-native Elaine through the visit of her Chinese mother-in-law. This is a sign of a great writer, one who immediately draws you into the soul of the POV character and makes you feel the same emotions she does. Lin's descriptions are fresh and funny and fabulous. I sure hope this book gets published soon so I can read the rest of the story!" - Beth Groundwater
"This is a terrifically funny read. Family clashes and mother-in-laws can lead to a great deal of conflict, but when you add the ethnic element, it is very funny. Lin has created a story I was sad not to be able to continue. Poor Elaine! How will she ever survive all that needs to happen in this week plus one day and keep her sanity? Hurry and get this published so I can find out." - Shannon Baker
"This is one of the best Culture Shock stories I've read in a long time! Fast paced, full of witty humor, and a clear sense of the characters. There's danger lurking in every move the Mother-In-Law makes, and the tension is palpable. I really want to read more of this." - Lawdon
Learn more about Mu Shu Mac & Cheese -->
Karen's books revolve around food and family. They often feature Chinese Culture. She is a food scholar, in-home cooking instructor, and food writer. The above photos of lotus leaves were taken by Karen Lin in China. Recipes utilizing them as wraps are featured in Karen's literary cookbook entitled: Nature's Wrap: Cooking in Leaves with Recipes from Around the World.