Jul 18, 2021

Sunday Salon: The Last Flight by Julie Clark

 Last thriller read: 

The Last Flight by Julie Clark, June 23, 2020, Sourcebooks Landmark

Genre: thriller, mystery

Source; library book

Two women at the airport, running away from unbearable lives, find each other in line and decide to swap plane tickets, purses, suitcases and coats, thus discarding their own identities, hoping to disappear on reaching their new destinations. Will their plan work?

I read this book nonstop and seemed to finish it in a day! It was that suspenseful and riveting. The plot and characters were unique and their dilemmas grabbed me as a reader. A little twist at the end too didn't hurt the interest of the novel. 

And now for an historical novel: 

 China: The Novel by Edward Rutherford, May 11, 2021, Doubleday

Genre: historical novel

Source: library book

The cover grabbed my attention, together with the single word title. It promised a history of modern China in novel form, easier, in my opinion, to read and grasp the complex history. The book description helped: 

The story begins in 1839, at the dawn of the First Opium War, and follows Chinese history through Mao's Cultural Revolution and up to the present day. Rutherfurd chronicles the rising and falling fortunes of members of Chinese, British, and American families, as they negotiate the tides of history.....a deeply researched portrait of Chinese history and society, its ancient traditions and great upheavals, and China's emergence as a rising global power.

I plan to start this soon, at the same time finishing a new literary novel, My Year Abroad by Chang-rae Lee. 

What are you reading this week?

Memes: The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer. Also,  It's Monday: What Are You Readingand Sunday Salon

Jul 16, 2021

Book Beginning: My Year Abroad by Chang-rae Lee


Title: My Year Abroad by Chang-rae Lee, Feb. 2, 2021, Riverhead Books

Genre: literary fiction
Publisher description: a young American life transformed by an unusual Asian adventure 

Book beginning:

I won't say where I am in this greatish country of ours, as that could be dicey for Val and her XL little boy, Victor Jr., but it's a place like most others, nothing too awful or uncomfortable, with no enduring vistas or distinctive traditions to admire, no funny accents or habits of the locals to wonder at or find repellent. 

Would you read on? 

For more of this meme, visit Book Beginning at Rose City Reader.


Jul 10, 2021

Sunday Salon: Havana and A Sea Island Community in SC

New books arrived: 

Death Under the Perseids by Teresa Dovalpage, December 7, 2021, Soho Crime

Genre: A Havana Mystery
Source: Soho Crime ARC

Publisher description: There’s no such thing as a free cruise in Cuban American author Teresa Dovalpage’s  new Havana mystery. Cuban-born Mercedes Spivey and her American husband, Nolan, win a free cruise to Havana and meet others with the same deal. One disappears on the cruise and the other is killed after arrival. Mercedes wonders if she is next when her husband Nolan disappears. 

The Marsh Bird by Anne Brooker James, July 27, 2021

Genre: novel, romance

Source: Saichek Publicity 

Publisher Description: a young, orphaned, multiracial girl from Louisiana and a white teen abandoned as an infant and raised by a local white fisherman, both embraced by the residents of a rural, Gullah Geechee sea island community. Set among descendants of those once enslaved in the lush marshes of the Lowcountry coast of South Carolina and Georgia, this is an unforgettable love story, and a tale of survival that proves it is the bonds of love and care that create a family.

What are you reading this week?

Memes: The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer. Also,  It's Monday: What Are You Readingand Sunday Salon

Jul 5, 2021

Tender Is the Bite by Spencer Quinn: It's Monday

 Meme: It's Monday: What Are You Reading

Tender Is the Bite by Spencer Quinn, Chet and Bernie Mystery #11

Publication: June 1, 2021. 

Source: NetGalley

I'm enjoying another Chet and Bernie mystery, narrated by the clever PI dog, Chet, in his limited but very smart and observant  way.  Chet rescues Bernie in more than one instance while the detecting duo solve murders and find missing persons. Another entertaining and suspenseful read.

Description: Chet the dog and his partner in solving crimes, PI Bernie, are contacted by a terribly scared young woman who seems to want their help. Before she can even tell them her name, she flees in panic. But in that brief meeting Chet sniffs out an important secret about her, a secret at the heart of the mystery he and Bernie set out to solve.

Also still reading: 

Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu

Hidden Treasure by Jane Cleland

Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

Vanessa Yu's Magical Paris Tea Shop by Roselle Lim

You can see I have several books by Asian and Asian Pacific authors! And they are quite good!

What are you reading this week? 

Jul 4, 2021

Guest Post by Sherry Quan Lee, author of Septuagenarian

 A poetic memoir

Poetic Book Tours presents a guest post on writing, by poet and memoirist, Sherry Quan Lee. 

Septuagenarian: love is what happens when I die is a memoir in poetic form. It is the author’s journey from being a mixed-race girl who passed for white to being a woman in her seventies who understands and accepts her complex intersectional identity; and no longer has to imagine love.

 It is a follow-up to the author’s previous memoir (prose), Love Imagined: a mixed-race memoir, A Minnesota Book Award finalist.

The Writing Process by Sherry Quan Lee, guest post

 A student once said to me that she appreciated me telling the class to keep everything.  Keep each and every draft of your writing, your manuscript.  Did I say that?

 Actually, I save nothing.  Okay, next to nothing.  When did I start letting go? It’s not about keeping what brings me joy.  My writing isn’t joyful.  Although, someone once said it had sass.

 I have always decluttered.  Every two or three months I purge-this includes not only things, but sometimes people (sometimes they purge me).  But since the Pandemic, actually even before, I started a momentous purge—maybe it was when I turned 70 and knew any day now could be my last and why make my children go through my things, things they wouldn’t want. 

 My office files are fairly pristine.  Sorted, labeled, shelved:  insurance, taxes, car, condo, publications—mine and those of my friends.  Yet, as the piles of my essays and poems thin, I am heart struck to notice a journey of words that repeat, that sail forth, that bring me to my writing/life today at the age of 73.

 Septuagenarian: love is what happens when I die was published March 2021. Now that’s a scary title if not understood as a metaphor.  The mock-up of the cover has the sub-title in small font size.  What does that mean?  Are we afraid of death?  Actually, the title came from a poem within the manuscript and it stuck, the line in the title, not the poem.  It’s a metaphor.  Clarissa Pinkola Estés said What must I give more death to today, in order to generate more life? I say, what must I let go of to generate love, be love, give love, get love.

 As I fumble through boxes of what I have not yet been able to discard, I discover a few poems that haven’t yet found their way to the trash.  One poem in particular, but there are others, starts out like this:


“I woke up knowing I was dead.  The first thing I’ve been sure of all my life.  The marks stretched, some visible and some invisible.  Stretched past cardboard boxes.  None of them empty,  Each box filled with an arm or a leg.”


The two-page poem contain boxes each labeled by a decade. It ends with:  “This was love.  She had finally gotten what she wanted.  But she was no longer who she was. She didn’t recognize herself….”

 The poem was dated October 15, 1999.  Only three years after I earned an MFA. There are hand-written revisions.  There is a short version printed in red.  A note says Vulva Riot.  There is a chorus that reads:  “Stretch marks, mark time, highway marks, passing marks, remarks, earmarks, market, marker, question marks, magic markers, grave markers, stretch marks.”

 Sometimes we don’t know why we say things, do things, save things—write things.  But there is significance to our actions.  I am glad I saved this poem. If I had come across it earlier, it would be in my book.  It would be the Introduction, the Foreword.  I am going to edit the poem.  This poem will not be discarded.  There are no rules I told my students.  Save all your drafts or don’t.  Discard everything so future generations won’t be bothered, or save what has been your life line and hope someone will embrace it.

 WRITING EXERCISE:  choose a word, such as mark and explore it and all related words by sound, by meaning, or both.  Create a chorus/a short verse.  Let it be the pattern that emerges.  How do you fill the empty spaces in-between?  Are they boxes marked by decades such as:

 “One box, marked 1953-1963, contained Hostess Cup Cakes.  Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup.  Barbie dolls.  Captain, May I.  Sorry.  Sugar and Spice.  Axel and His Dog. Captain Kangaroo. Nancy Drew. Bobbsey Twins.  The Little Engine That Could.  Pop Beads,  Roller Skates.  Crinolines. Hula Hoops.  Red Rover.  Pony Tails.  Our Redeemer Lutheran Church. Kool Aide. “Go Tell Aunt Rhody the Ol’ Gray Goose Is Dead”. The Salvation Army Book Store on Nicollet Island. Government Surplus.  A metal Grocery Cart.  Trading Cards.  Air Raid Drills.  Standish Elementary School.  Woolworths.  Wonder Bread.” 

I probably did tell the student to save all of her writing.  I probably meant it.  Much of my writing, however, my former life was left behind when I made, yet another relationship move.  This one sudden.  Sometimes things aren’t saved because we can’t take them with us.  But sometimes, a book authored and signed by you to another poet will show up on a Google search and you know not everything is lost, it just might have found a new home. 

Sherry Quan Lee

June 26, 2021

Memes: The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer. Also,  It's Monday: What Are You Readingand Sunday Salon

Jun 27, 2021

My Grape Year by Laura Bradbury: Armchair Travel and Romance: Sunday Salon

 rom-com memoir set in a French vineyard in Burgundy.

Title: My Grape Year by Laura Bradbury

September 23, 2015, Grape Books

Genre: YA, rom-com, travel memoir

And this is only the beginning. There are others after this book, making it a series of at least 8 books! Laura first travels to France as an exchange high school student, nearing 18 years-of-age, hoping for adventure and romance. She lands up staying with four different families during a year in wine making Burgundy. 

I have only just started Book 1 but it satisfies my armchair travel inclinations, and the writing is so delightful, I'm sure I'll be reading the rest of the series, in due time.

Currently also reading: 

Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu, January 28, 2020, Pantheon Books 
Genre: contemporary Asian fiction, multicultural
Setting: USA

It's a funny book full of Asian stereotypes the author is trying to debunk. 
Willy Wu describes himself as Generic Asian Man dreaming of being Kung Fu Guy.

That's how he is seen, except by his mother who tells him, Be more.

Lots of chuckles. Am looking forward to reading on. 

Someone should write Generic Asian Woman. That should bring just as many chuckles. 

What are you reading this week? 

Memes: The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer. Also,  It's Monday: What Are You Readingand Sunday Salon

Jun 20, 2021

Sunday Salon: Japanese Authors and a Mystery

 Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro. Intellect having "heart"

Klara and the Sun was easy to read for a literary novel of such magnitude and celebrity, I found.  A very much anticipated new book this year from Nobel Prize winner Kazuo Ishiguro, the novel is set in a dystopian-like society, where Artificial Friends, computerized individuals or robots, are available for sale and purchased as companions to lonely teenagers. 

Klara is bought by Josie, a teen with a serious illness, who chose her specifically to become her artificial friend. At home, Klara sets out to try to save her charge, Josie, from succumbing to her illness and to find a way to have Josie restored to full health and life. 

The novel shows us empathy, love, hope, and sacrifice among the characters and especially from Josie's Artificial Friend, Klara, who seems more real than ever, even though only using her mind for her objective commentary and observation of her limited world. 

The book leaves you wondering if Klara's intellect and objective mind shows that doing what's beneficial for her charge Josie is a rational thing and not just an emotional response? 

Klara and the Sun did bring tears to my eyes.  Another mesmerizing novel from Ishiguro. 

Currently reading:
And now for a completely different book that I am enjoying.

A longtime fan of this antiques mystery series, I've started reading and getting hooked on Jane Cleland's new novel, Hidden Treasure . 

Josie Prescott, owner of an antiques store, is asked to find a lost trunk belonging to Maude, the previous owner of the Victorian house Josie and her husband have just bought. Set on the New Hampshire coast, the mystery has already hooked me into the case of the lost trunk and the significance of its contents. 

Another great read, found at the library, is Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi, a book of short interconnected stories that I am really liking. The setting is an old fashioned coffee shop and the stories are about the customers who are featured in four long stories. 

I have finished the first story, a romance in which the coffee shop becomes a magical world for one new patron, and am looking forward to the next three stories. 

What are you reading this week? 

Memes: The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer. Also,  It's Monday: What Are You Readingand Sunday Salon

Sunday Salon: The Last Flight by Julie Clark

 Last thriller read:  The Last Flight  by Julie Clark, June 23, 2020, Sourcebooks Landmark Genre: thriller, mystery Source; library book Two...