Mar 2, 2024

You Will Never Be Me by Jesse Q. Sutanto, and Talking to Strangers by Fiona Barton: Sunday Salon


You Will Never Be Me by Jesse Q. Sutanto
Publication: August 20, 2024; Berkley
Genre: women's fiction, thriller, suspense, adult contemporary fiction

I love Jesse Q. Sutanto's books, from her romantic comedies to her newest books, contemporary thrillers.

In You Will Never Be Me, two best friends, Meredith and Ashley, get into social influencing, and though one helped the other to gain followers at the beginning, both soon become fierce competitors, always comparing the number of followers they gain. They both need the money from their social media work, as Ashley's husband makes a meager salary, and Meredith is a single mom.

I liked the plot direction that takes the reader on a roller coaster ride between the two former friends, and how one sabotages the other. I also think the book is a spoof on the abnormal lengths social influencers will go to get fame and fortune through their followers. The book also shows the negatives to this kind of lifestyle, when it becomes extreme, and how it could affect families and readers alike.

The suspense becomes more intense as Meredith and Ashley compete fiercely, and after one too many sabotages, one of them disappears. At the end, I found myself rooting for one of them. This is fiction, after all, a mystery thriller, but one with a unique way of bringing a message about influencers and social media.

My next read 

I've read The Widow and The Child and gave them high ratings, so I'm eager to get into the author's latest mystery thriller, Talking to Strangers, to be published August 15, 2024 by Berkley. 

When the body of forty-four-year-old Karen Simmons is found abandoned in remote woodland, journalist Kiki Nunn is determined this will be the big break she so desperately needs...

While the police appear to be focusing on local suspects, Kiki sets out to write the definitive piece on one woman's fatal search for love. But she will soon learn that the search for truth can be just as deadly...

What are you reading this week? 

Memes: The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated BookreviewerAlso, It's Monday: What Are You Readingand Sunday SalonStacking the ShelvesMailbox Monday

Feb 24, 2024

Sunday Salon: A Domestic Thriller, and K-Dramas

 Currently reading

Publication: May 7, 2024; Harper Perennial and Paperbacks, NetGalley

Genre: domestic thriller, romance

I'm enjoying this one as a lighter thriller/romance novel.


Bestselling romance author Sarina Bowen’s debut thriller, about one woman’s search for the truth after receiving a text from her deceased ex, Drew,  asking her to meet him under their special tree. Seeing Drew’s name pop up five years after his death is heart-stopping. Ariel’s gut says it can’t be real. But she goes to the tree anyway. She has to.

Nobody shows.... Only two things are clear: everything she was told five years ago is wrong, and someone is still lying to her. 

The truth has to be out there somewhere. To safeguard herself—and her son—she’ll have to find it before it finds her. And with it, the answer to what became of Drew. 

Watching TV

I started binge watching Korean dramas on NetFlix after seeing Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha, a romance comedy series that takes place in a small seaside town in Korea between a new dentist and the hometown man who runs the village.  The cha-cha-cha title grabbed my attention. I found this online: 

Netflix photo

Wikipedia: Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha series was a commercial hit and became one of the highest-rated dramas in Korean cable television history.[10][11] It ranked first place during its entire run for eight weeks, and the last episode achieved 12.665% nationwide rating, with over 3.2 million views.[12] It also became one of Netflix's most-watched non-English television shows, and one of its longest-running hits as it spent 16 weeks in global top ten rankings.[13 (from Wikipedia)

I like the plots, characters, and the cultural information given by the dramas I've seen so far. Many of the shows have colorful, humorous characters to balance out any tragedies. And I am really impressed by the screen writing as well as the actors and screen production. I don't mind reading the subtitles although Netflix allows the English dubbed version also. I'm on my seventh drama, I think, and still going.....This means I've been reading fewer books!

What are you reading/watching these days? 

Memes: The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated BookreviewerAlso, It's Monday: What Are You Readingand Sunday SalonStacking the ShelvesMailbox Monday

Feb 21, 2024

Max's War: The Story of a Ritchie Boy by Libby Fischer Hellman

 New historical novel of WWII

Publication: April 9, 2024; Red Herrings Press
Genre: historical fiction, WWII

DescriptionAs the Nazis sweep across Europe, Jewish teen Max and his parents flee persecution in Germany for Holland, where Max finds friends and romance. But when Hitler invades in 1940, Max must escape to Chicago, leaving his parents and friends behind. When he learns of his parents' murder in Sobibor, Max immediately enlists in the US Army. After basic training he is sent to Camp Ritchie, Maryland, where he is trained in interrogation and counterintelligence.

Deployed to the OSS, Max carries out dangerous missions in Occupied countries. He also interrogates scores of German POWs, especially after D-Day and the Battle of the Bulge, where, despite life-threatening conditions, he elicits critical information about German troop movements.

Post-war, he works for the Americans in the German denazification program, bringing him back to his Bavarian childhood home of Regensburg. Though the city avoided large-scale destruction, the Jewish community was decimated. Max roams familiar yet strange streets, replaying memories of lives lost to unspeakable tragedy. While there, however, he reunites with someone from his past, who, like him, sought refuge abroad. Can they rebuild their lives… together?

This epic story about a Ritchie Boy is Libby Hellmann’s tribute to her late father-in-law who was active with the OSS and interrogated dozens of German POWs. (publisher)

Thanks to Wiley Saichek of Saichek Publicity for an ARC of this book for feature/review. 

Feb 17, 2024

New Books: Daughter of Mine, and Reversing Alzheimer's

Finished reading:


Daughter of Mine by Megan Miranda
Publication: April 9, 2024; Marysue Rucci Books, NetGalley
Genre: suspense, thriller, adult fiction

Hazel Sharp returns to her small hometown by the lake when she inherits the family home from her deceased father, a former detective. She becomes inquisitive about the first wife of her father who disappeared years before, and about her own mother, his second wife, who also disappeared years ago. The mystery makes her suspicious of her two brothers too, even though they are both local detectives.

When two empty cars are found submerged in different parts of the lake, Hazel becomes even more determined to find out what happened to her mother. I liked Hazel's persistence and her gumption to get to the bottom of strange happenings in her home town involving her deceased father and his two disappeared wives.

There is suspense and a surprise ending, though I had an inclination to suspect the real killer, who had seemed not suspicious before. I found this a worthwhile read, a good thriller.

To be read  

Reversing Alzheimer's by Dr. Heather Sandison
Publication: June 11, 2024; Harper, NetGalley
Genre: self help, medical, Alzheimer's

I borrowed this book from NetGalley after a friend expressed concern re her relative's diagnois of mild cognitive decline. I thought that the possibility of reversing that decline would be good to know about.  

It seems exercise, diet, lack of stress, good health and good sleep, are just a few of the things that can help people avoid rapid mental decline. I suppose staying physically and mentally active in daily life also contributes to overall health.

In Reversing Alzheimer’s, the author shows how we can alleviate the factors that nudge the brain into decline, add more of the things that contribute to brain regeneration, and either make significant improvements in cognitive function or prevent cognitive decline from happening in the first place. Hers is an individualized, step-by-step, whole-body approach.

Dr. Sandison systematically guides the reader through addressing the factors that contribute both positively and negatively to our cognitive health—from the biological and the physical (toxins, nutrition, hormones, infections, exercise) to the psychological (negative self-talk, trauma); from the social (personal engagement with our community, loneliness and relationships); to the cultural (ageism, stress). 

Other books

I'm still reading and liking The Island of Sea Women  by Lisa See for its local and WWII historical information of the island of Jeju in Korea. Also continuing in French Mon cœur a déménagé by Michel Bussi, and trying to keep the plots distinct, moving from one book to the other. 

How many books do you/can you  easily read at the same time? 

Memes: The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated BookreviewerAlso, It's Monday: What Are You Readingand Sunday SalonStacking the ShelvesMailbox Monday

Feb 10, 2024

Lunar New Year, and Mon Coeur a Demenage: Sunday Salon

 French author, Michel Bussi

Mon cœur a déménagé est à la fois un récit initiatique, un roman d'amour et d'amitié, une vaste enquête s'étirant sur plus d'une décennie, et bien entendu une intrigue à twist, nul ne sachant, jusqu'à la dernière page, qui connaît la vérité, et qui la manipule.

Genre: mystery, thriller
Setting: Rouen, France
Published January 11, 2024; Presses de la Cite

Michel Bussi est un auteur et politologue français, professeur de géographie à l'université de Rouen. Il est spécialiste de géographie électorale.

What language(s) do you read in? There is a translate button at the right hand top column of the blog, for English and other languages.

Happy Lunar New Year of the Green Dragon

DescriptionLunar New Year, an illustrated book, captures the magic of the celebration by exploring how Ling and her family enjoy the biggest Chinese festival of the year.

The new year festival lasts for 15 days full of preparation, celebration, and symbolism. Join Ling, her sister Mei and granny Po Po as they clean the house from top to bottom, pick fresh flowers from the garden, visit friends and family, and carry red lanterns through their neighborhood. Ling invites the reader into her home and family, allowing the reader to experience this special celebration first-hand through an authentic narrative non-fiction story.

A fun 16-page  'factivity' section  follows the story and delves into more detail about how the festival is celebrated in China and beyond. Enriching activities are also included, such as guess the riddle, make your own red envelope, and a recipe to make delicious Lunar New Year 'pot sticker' dumplings. 

The Lunar New Year is celebrated in many different Asian and Southeast Asian countries and beyond. It begins February 10.

Do you celebrate the Lunar New Year?

Memes: The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated BookreviewerAlso, It's Monday: What Are You Readingand Sunday SalonStacking the ShelvesMailbox Monday

Feb 3, 2024

The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See, set in Jeju in South Korea

 South Korea Setting

The Island of Sea Women  
by Lisa See

Published March 5, 2019; Scribner

Genre: historical fiction, literary fiction, South Korea

Description: a novel of female friendship and devastating family secrets on the small Korean island of JejuMi-ja and Young-sook, two girls living on the Korean island of Jeju, are best friends who come from very different backgrounds. When they are old enough, they begin working in the sea with their village’s all-female diving collective, led by Young-sook’s mother. 

As the girls take up their positions as baby divers, they know they are beginning a life of excitement and responsibility—but also danger. Despite their love for each other, Mi-ja and Young-sook find it impossible to ignore their differences. The novel covers several generations.

Korean dramas filmed on Jeju - Netflix 

I've been enjoying several Korean dramas set on the lovely island of Jeju, the setting of Lisa See's historical novel. and a place popular with tourists

"Welcome to Samdal-ri"

Female divers washing their nets
Chief diver - Photos - Netflix 

"Welcome to Samdal-ri" was partly inspired by Lisa See's novel. though the plots are not the exact same. 

Cho Yong-Pil, a weather forecaster in Jeju island, and Cho Sam-Dal grew up in Samdal-ri.  Both their mothers were very close friends and divers for conch and abalone. However, after Yong-Pil's mother died in a diving accident, the two young people were forced apart and Sam-Dal  left the island to live in Seoul. 

They meet again on Jeju after many years and begin a romance, with much family drama ensuing because of what had happened to Yong-Pil's mother in the past. This Korean drama was released in December 2023. 

"Our Blues"

Jeju coast
Photos- Netflix

"Our Blues" tells interlocking stories of Jeju island residents - happy, sad, heartwarming, revealing looks at various people, couples, female divers, and families, all of whom know each other as they live on small, beautiful Jeju Island. The series began airing on Netflix in 2022. 

Other Netflix dramas (partly) set on Jeju:

  1. When Life Gives You Tangerines (to be released later this year)
  2. Boys over Flowers
  3. Something in the Rain

 I know I'll be watching many of these as I'm hooked on the island setting, the stories of families and romance, the food, the novelty, for me, of female divers, the woods and the mountain, the seascape. I also have gotten accustomed to hearing Korean, and I enjoy the cadences and sounds. Of course I watch the dramas with closed captioning in English.

What are you reading/watching this week? 

Memes: The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated BookreviewerAlso, It's Monday: What Are You Readingand Sunday SalonStacking the ShelvesMailbox Monday

Jan 27, 2024

Two Thrillers, a Beloved Bookshop, and a Killer Gourmet Cook: Sunday Salon

 Arrived in the mailbox

The Road to Murder: A Tuscan Mystery #4 by Camilla Trinchieri

Publication; March 5, 2024; Soho Crime ARC

The sole witness at a crime scene speaks only English, and ex-NYPD detective turned amateur chef Nico Doyle is summoned by the local carabinieri to help. Setting in Gravigna, Italy. 

I've read two of the three previous books in the series: Murder on the Vine and A Bitter Taste of Murder. Loved the Tuscan countryside, characters, and food. 

Currently reading:

The Nature of Disappearing by Kimi Cunningham Grant, Publication: June 18, 2024; Minotaur, NetGalley

The title of the book caught my attention. A wilderness guide in Idaho teams up with an ex to find their missing/disappeared friend who had been on a mountain trek with her boyfriend.
 Enjoying the writing, nature setting, and the character of tracker Emlyn, This suspense story is moving along very well so far. 

Next on my reading list

A follow up novel to Days at the Morisaki Bookshop, to be released July 2, 2024, Harper Perennial, NetGalley

I have been enjoying several Japanese contemporary novels set in and around bookshops. 
Description: Satoru, with Takako’s help, must choose whether to keep the bookshop open or shutter its doors forever. Making the decision will take uncle and niece on an emotional journey back to their family’s roots and remind them again what a bookstore can mean to an individual, a neighborhood, and a whole culture. 

And now for something completely different:

Butter: A Novel of Food and Murder by Asako Yuzuki, publication April 16, 2024; Ecco, NetGalley

The cult Japanese bestseller about a female gourmet cook and serial killer and the journalist intent on cracking her case, inspired by a true story. I'm as interested in her food as I am in why she offs her diners.

Gourmet cook Manako Kajii sits in the Tokyo Detention House convicted of the serial murders of lonely businessmen, whom she is said to have seduced with her delicious home cooking. Kajii refuses to speak with the press, until journalist Rika Machida writes a letter asking for her recipe for beef stew, and Kajii can’t resist writing back. Inspired by the real case of a convicted con woman and serial killer—the “Konkatsu Killer”—Asako Yuzuki’s Butter is a vivid, unsettling exploration of misogyny, obsession, romance, and the transgressive pleasures of food in Japan.

What are you reading this week? 

Memes: The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated BookreviewerAlso, It's Monday: What Are You Readingand Sunday SalonStacking the ShelvesMailbox Monday

You Will Never Be Me by Jesse Q. Sutanto, and Talking to Strangers by Fiona Barton: Sunday Salon

  You Will Never Be Me by Jesse Q. Sutanto Publication: August 20, 2024; Berkley Genre: women's fiction, thriller, suspense, adult con...