Oct 29, 2022

Sunday Salon: An OK Thriller and a Madcap Romance

 Goodreads/Netflix reviews:

Mad About You
by Mhairi McFarlane (Goodreads Author)
Published August 9, 2022, Avon Books

Harriet, wedding photographer, has seen people escape from undesirable partners. She herself has escaped from two, just barely. This is an interesting book dealing with breakups and some of the serious reasons behind them.

An indictment too of social media used to spread false information about people and destroy careers and relationships.

I found the themes of modern love and courtship both timely and universal.

The Girlfriend

by K.L. Slater (Goodreads Author)
Published October 27, 2022, Bookouture

An interesting but not extraordinary thriller. It didn’t have the wrenching, unexpected twists I was expecting. None of the plot twists were too surprising, and the girlfriend's personality and motivations could have been more original.  An okay read.

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

Oct 22, 2022

Sunday Salon: Lonely Stories and a Locked Room

 Library Finds:

I took home about five new library books today, hoping to read them as well as the ebooks I signed up for some time ago. I will be surprised by the ones I choose to read. Do you read all the library books you borrow, or do you land up picking and choosing in the end?

Not many books read this week as I've been binge watching Ozark on a new Kindle Fire! 

The Lonely Stories by 22 celebrated authors, April 19, 2022 by Catapult

About: A collection of personal essays about the joys and struggles of being alone by 22 literary writers including: Lev Grossman, Jhumpa Lahiri, Lena Dunham, Jesmyn Ward, Jean Kwok, Yiyun Li, and Anthony Doerr.

The Locked Room(Ruth Galloway #14)


About: Pandemic lockdowns have Ruth Galloway feeling isolated from everyone but a new neighbor--until detective Nelson begins investigating a decades-long string of murder-suicides that's looming ever closer. 

I haven't read many books set in pandemic times. This is the second one I've come across recently.

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

Oct 21, 2022

Book Tour: Somewhere Sisters by Erika Hayasaki

 Nonfiction book review

Somewhere Sisters: A Story of Adoption, Identity, and the Meaning of Family

by Erika Hayasaki, October 11, 2022, Algonquin Books

Identical twins Isabella and Hà were born in Vietnam and raised on opposite sides of the world, each knowing little about the other’s existence, until they were reunited as teenagers, against all odds. (publisher)

Topic: Vietnamese identical twin girls are given up for adoption at birth in 1998.  One girl was adopted by a wealthy Midwestern family in the U.S. and the other remained in Nha Trang, Vietnam with an aunt. This nonfiction work tells the story of the unusual steps taken to finally reunite the two sisters. 

The book: The author discusses the two girls, the twins, during their teens when they first meet, and compares their different experiences growing up, in terms of nature vs nurture science. The book also examines culture and belonging and the conflicts inherent in the topic of adoption.

I was very impressed with the amount of research that went into this book. I was also wowed by the author's interviewing of the U.S. and Vietnamese families and the multiple travels to and from Vietnam to complete this study and write the story of the twins before and after they meet.

The American adoptive mother's extensive efforts to reunite the girls and to prepare the Vietnamese raised twin to live with them in the U.S. is astounding. The amount of planning and funds needed to do this was extraordinary. 

I understand that many adoptees may not get this kind of dedication from adoptive parents but this book makes me wonder about other similar stories that we have not heard. 

A five star read. 

Book beginning: 


The babies are crying. Nguyen Thi Kim Lien treks through the clogged city streets of Nha Trang. She is exhausted, carrying two newborns in her arms in a double clutch. It is 1998. A hip malformation that she's had since birth forces her weight to rest more heavily on her right side and her legs to curve outward like the body of a harp. It was hard for her to find a job before birth. Now it is impossible.

Page 56 of ebook: 

I first learned about the sisters in 2016, six months after giving birth to my own identical twin boys. As part of a science journalism fellowship, I was researching stories about environmental interactions with genes.


 About the author:

Erika Hayasaki is an award-winning journalist based in Southern California, the author of The Death Class, and a professor in the Literary Journalism Program at the University of California, Irvine. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the AtlanticWiredSlate, and others. She has been a 2021-22 Knight-Wallace Reporting Fellow and a 2018 Alicia Patterson Fellow. She is the mother of a daughter and twin boys

Memes:The Friday 56. Find any sentence that grabs you on page 56 of your book. Post it, and add your URL to Freda's Voice. Also visit Book Beginnings at Rose City Reader.


Oct 15, 2022

Sunday Salon: The New Person by Loretta Nyhan

 A five star review: 

The New Person: A Novel by Loretta Nyhan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Publication: November 29, 2022; Lake Union Publishing
Genre: women's fiction, family drama, contemporary fiction

Single mother Roxy, desperate for money to fight for joint custody of her child, becomes a surrogate for Owen and Nora, after their former surrogate suffered a miscarriage and was unable to carry their biological child to term. 

The novel focuses on these three individuals - surrogate and would be parents - their hopes, their conflicts, and their total dependence on one other for the desired outcome. 

The supporting characters in the story, Roxy's nine-year-old son, Aero; her ex Caleb and his media loving wife Liv; and a new friend and romantic interest for Roxy fill out the story in interesting and unusual ways.

I liked that the ending is not predictable and that the three find a conclusion that brings them to a new place, making a new person of each of them.Nothing is sugar coated, and I liked the realism as well as the compassion that went into the exploration of this subject matter - surrogates and the couples who rely on them.

In my mailbox:

Death on a Winter Stroll

(A Merry Folger Nantucket Mystery #7)

In this new mystery from Francine Mathews, Nantucket detective Merry Folger must face her toughest adversaries yet when wannabe Hollywood stars take over the island in the midst of quarantine.

Chief among Nantucket Island’s cherished traditions is Winter Stroll, when evergreen trees line Main Street and tourists and islanders share the spirit of the season in shops and restaurants gilded with firelight. This year, however, is different—the pandemic still threatens the lives of everyone determined to spend a long weekend thirty miles out at sea, with the closest ICU a helicopter flight away. (publisher)

Currently reading:

Ways to Die in Tokyo

For years Hank Fisher has chased his dream of becoming a mixed martial arts champion. Now he's on a losing streak in his adopted home of Tokyo, Japan, and realizing maybe the dream was never meant to be.

Broke, divorced, and alone, he hasn't seen his ex-wife and twin sons in two years and has no idea where they are. He also finds himself on the run from ruthless gangsters. (publisher)

Also reading:

I Spy China: Irreverent Insights from an Ex-Expat

Called "laugh out loud funny, touching, sometimes stomach-churning," by reviewers, this genre-bending book reveals what it was like to live in a big, smoggy, industrial town in China before the twin plagues of Trump and COVID-19. (goodreads)

I'm eager to see what it's like to be an expat in a country where you don't know the language, are unfamiliar with the place, but approach the experience with a good sense of humor.

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

Oct 9, 2022

Sunday Salon: Welcome Autumn and Possibly a New Ereader

 A short post this week:

I've just traded in online two of my Kindles -  an old Paperwhite and and a failing Kindle Fire. I now have to package them and slap on Amazon's prepaid labels and take to UPS. Phew!

What shall I get to replace them? I have a newer Paperwhite which I'm happy with.  With my cell phone, I should be covered media wise till I get a new ereader. Do I need one?


I've been jumping about with the ebooks and books, not in the mood for this one or that one, or bored with another one. There are so many ARC ebooks to choose from, it's hard to ignore them in favor of the paper library books I also borrowed.

The Many Daughters of Afong Moy

epigenetic inheritance, which describes memories, similar activities and inclinations passed down through the generations. 

What has Afong Moy passed down from generations past?

Rom  Coms: I'm slowly falling out of love with this contemporary genre, as I've read more mediocre than really good and humorous ones. Either the plots are two tame or lacking in originality,  the humor is lacking, the sex scenes too over the top, and the writing just so-so.
 I'll keep looking, though.

Have a great beginning of autumn!

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

Oct 5, 2022

Romance and Rivalry in Graduate School : The Make-Up Test by Jenny L. Howe

Romance and Rivalry

The Make-Up Test
by Jenny L. Howe
Published September 13, 2022; St. Martin's Griffin
Genre: romance, contemporary fiction
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As a lit major myself, I enjoyed reading about the graduate students of medieval literature discussing and competing for awards and recognition in their work. The romance between Colin and Allison was also interesting as they were rivals in academics as well as former lovers. This provided the tension in the novel, in addition to Allison's estranged father always reviling her for being overweight.

I only wished the descriptions of Allison's physical attraction to Colin, her former college boyfriend, were not so detailed and frequent. They became repetitive after a while. About one-eighth of the book could have been cut if edited in this way.

An unusual plot and characters in an academic setting, however, that made this a four star rom com.

Book Beginning:
Chapter I

If one more person used the word hegemonic, Allison Avery was going to scream. 

After almost two full week of classes at Claremore University, she should be more adjusted to the quirks of graduate-level literature courses, but it still felt like ...a lot.

Visit Book Beginnings at Rose City Reader.

Oct 1, 2022

Library Books: Thriller, Family Drama, Cozy Mystery: Sunday Salon

Thank heavens for our library system which seems to have almost all the books I request, and many that are new to me as well. 

The It Girl was a book I saw often on blogs and social media. I joined a long waiting list at the library and finally got it.

About: April Coutts-Cliveden was the first person Hannah Jones met at Oxford.
Vivacious, bright, occasionally vicious, and the ultimate It girl, she quickly pulled Hannah into her dazzling orbit. Together, they developed a group of devoted and inseparable friends—Will, Hugh, Ryan, and Emily—during their first term. By the end of the second, April was dead.

My goodreads reviewThis thriller kept me riveted until the very end. I sort of guessed who the real culprit might be and I was right! The one you least expect, of course. Glad it had a happy ending for the woman who had been haunted for so many years for her evidence that convicted a man who might not have been the guilty one.

Worth reading.

Family Trust

Meet Stanley Huang: father, husband, ex-husband, man of unpredictable tastes and temper, aficionado of all-inclusive vacations and bargain luxury goods, newly diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. 
For years, Stanley has claimed that he’s worth a small fortune. But the time is now coming when the details of his estate will finally be revealed, and Stanley’s family is nervous.

Arsenic and Adobo (my review)

(Tita Rosie's Kitchen Mystery #1)

The first book in a culinary cozy series full of humor and delectable dishes….

When Lila Macapagal moves back home to recover from a horrible breakup, her life seems to be following all the typical rom-com tropes. She’s tasked with saving her Tita Rosie’s failing restaurant, and she has to deal with a group of matchmaking aunties who shower her with love and judgment. 
But when a notoriously nasty food critic (who happens to be her ex-boyfriend) drops dead moments after a confrontation with Lila, her life quickly swerves from a Nora Ephron romp to an Agatha Christie case.

Those are my library books, but I have a load of ebooks on my list as well, too many in fact. 
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

Asian and Pacific American Heritage Month: Four Novels

For  Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month   (May),  I'm posting my book reviews by several Asian American novelists. The f...