Apr 29, 2023

Sunday Salon: Some Lighter Reads TBR

 Book Galleys

These books aren't published as yet; they are galleys made available for readers to submit their comments. Something like the publishers asking for beta readers, but not quite. The final copies of the books may differ a little or a lot from these galleys, but I don't mind reading the unpublished, maybe closer to original versions by the authors

Publication: September 19, 2023; Berkley 
Publisher: Lila Macapagal's godmothers April, Mae, and June—AKA the Calendar Crew—are celebrating their business venture, a new laundromat. However, a joyous occasion turns into a tragedy when they discover the building vandalized—and the body of Ninang April’s niece, recently arrived from the Philippines, next to a chilling message painted on the floor. 

Publication: May 9, 2023; Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publisher: Who is Ariadne Hui?
• Laser-focused lawyer diligently climbing the corporate ladder
• The “perfect” daughter living out her father’s dream
• Shocking love interest of South Korea’s hottest star

Kindergarten at 60: A Memoir of Teaching in Thailand
Publication: June 20, 2023: Apprentice House
Publisher: Teaching kindergarten in Thailand. Dian Seidel, at age sixty and craving adventure, convinced her husband to try working abroad. Rambunctious children, sweltering heat, and Covid-19 turned out to be the challenge she needed. Struggling to understand Thai culture, their school, and their marriage, could she learn Thailand's essential lesson: mai pen rai, don't worry, keep cool?

Thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for access to these galleys

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

Apr 22, 2023

I Can't Save You: A Memoir by Anthony Chin-Quee


I Can't Save You: A Memoir by Anthony Chin-Quee

Genre: memoir, medical, nonfiction

Publication: April 4, 2023; Riverhead Books

My comments:

I thought that Anthony Chin-Quee, a Black surgeon, wrote this revealing and honest memoir with distinct audiences in mind. The medical community, for one, starting with those at the very top who make and keep the policies that affect the wellbeing of the others - the doctors, medical students, would-be medical students, hospital staff, and the patients themselves. 

Then there are the very personal parts in the memoir that tackle his relationships with others, whether while training and working as a surgeon, in his personal life or in the dysfunctional, multi-racial West Indian family in which he grew up.

I view the book as a wake up call to the medical community in how they train and treat their staff and what they expect that may be just too much - the long hours working without sleep that could endanger both patient and doctor, for instance. The writing is intense as the author describes in a brutally honest way what he had to face with his patients, with other doctors and staff members, in the operating room, and in the hospital while working dangerously long shifts. Granted, some of his descriptions have some humor, in a kind of way. 

And the other wake up call is to the society at large, which continues, based on his experiences, to seriously undermine and underestimate  people of color, and their abilities and potential. 

This book is a must read also, as I see it, for would be doctors, or for those already in the middle of their profession. It's an eye opener for newbies that is frank and honest, even in its brutal, no holds barred descriptions. 

At the end of the book, I was happy for the author that he found his true path, benefiting from his grueling and challenging training to do what he truly loves - writing and using his way with words, leaving behind a debilitating profession, a toxic family member, and forming his own perfect family.

I finished the book with more appreciation for my own doctors and specialists, realizing what they must have gone through, the gauntlets they have to run, to reach and stay where they are. 

About the Author

Anthony Chin-Quee, M.D
, is a board-certified otolaryngologist with degrees from Harvard University and Emory University School of Medicine. An award-winning storyteller with The Moth, he has been on the writing staff of FOX’s The Resident and a medical adviser for ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy. --This text refers to the hardcover edition.

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

Apr 15, 2023

Book Reviews: Afterparties, and The Rachel Incident

 Book Reviews

The Rachel Incident by Caroline O'Donoghue
Publication: June 22, 2023; Knopf
Genre: women's fiction, contemporary drama, romance, LBGTQ
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Rachel Incident, a novel about early twenty-somethings in Cork, Ireland gave me a look at the Irish Republic, its people, and its history regarding abortion rights and its fight for women's reproductive rights.

I also loved the story the novel tells of young Rachel and her love for two men, both named James, who play an important part in her life.

The feelings that Rachel has for both Jameses leads her into rocky relationships with her college lit teacher and his wife. All these people interact to make for a compelling story of love in many different manifestations.

Funny, heart warming, amazing characters lead us on a merry dance in this novel of manners, friendships, and some tragedy. The comedy and the drama and even damaging hypocrisy also makes this a thoughtfully unusual book.


Afterparties: Stories
 by Anthony Veasna So
Published August 3, 2021; Ecco
Genre: short stories, immigrant fiction, Cambodian fiction
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

These short stories describe the lives of young Cambodian Americans at home, school, work - their checquered lives, many on the lower income level, their families surviving as relatively recent immigrants and refugees from the Cambodian Civil War and the Khmer Rouge in the mid 1970s, a war called the Cambodian Genocide.

This war and their family history are still alive among these families, as they try to find their way in a new country, sometimes worried about the past finding its way into their present and future. The stories are set in a community in California.

Many of them are heart breaking as the children carry the scars of the past and continue to feel the effects of the sufferings of their parents and families during what they refer to as the Genocide in Cambodia. Adapting to a new country is an added complication for the families and their children growing up American.

I found the stories revealing and necessary for us to understand what some immigrant families face and carry with them in their new country and new home.

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

Apr 8, 2023

Sunday Salon: Holding Pattern by Jenny Xie; Days at the Morisaki Bookshop by Satoshi Yagisawa


Holding Pattern: A Novel
by Jenny Xie
Publication: June 20, 2023, Riverhead Books
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a novel about a Chinese immigrant family -  a mother-daughter and their relationship in the U.S. Rather than an immigrant child/adult having to cope with a demanding, self-sacrificing traditional parent, this is about a mother/parent who has broken the norm or stereotype and found a new way of independent living.

Kathleen disappointed her divorced mom Marissa after dropping out of her academic program in psychology and returning home to Oakland, Ca. But Kathleen finds a new mother on her return: Marissa has changed her outlook and lifestyle, becoming trendy and modern and engaged to a tech entrepreneur, Brian Lin.

The novel has two themes : Kathleen trying to find her own way with her interest in psychology and touch therapy, cuddle clinics, and her mother having a renewed interest in reviving her life. This novel surprised me as it deviates from the traditional daughter-mom pattern of Asian parent-child relationships.

I liked the new Marissa, the mom, who is still concerned about her undecided daughter and tries to help her back to a constructive future, but who is determined to live a satisfying life of her own.

Eric Ozawa (Translator)
Publication: July 4, 2023; Harper Perennial
Rating: 5/5 stars

A familiar trope is used at the beginning of this novel - a young woman's heart is broken in a failed relationship; she leaves her job and returns home to her family. 

The trope ends there as the story that unfolds is heart warming and positive and unique. There are new beginnings for the broken hearted Takako and new beginnings for her Uncle Satoru who takes her in, gives her a job and an upstairs apartment at his family bookstore.

I like that Takako becomes part of her uncle's life in more than one way, helping him with his old bookstore on a street filled with other bookshops. She interacts with Satoru's estranged wife who suddenly returns after five years' absence and helps the wife to heal from whatever has been ailing her psychologically. 

It's lovely that Takako herself finds friendship and affection, as well as family, in the small town, and even a new romantic interest. Her uncle's advice to her: Don't be afraid of someone "warming your heart" as long as you live is especially poignant.

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


Apr 2, 2023

Sunday Salon: Modern Trope of Loss and Returning Home

 Returning home:

I 've been reading books about young women abandoning their job after a breakup with a boyfriend, and returning to their parents' home. This seems to be a popular trope as I've seen it in several  contemporary novels.

However, the stories vary widely once the main character moves back to family, depending on their circumstances and family dynamics. This makes them interesting regardless of the trope.

A Quitter's Paradise: A Novel by Elysha Chang
Publication: June 6, 2023' SJP Lit
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This novel deals with two generations of a family impacting each other - the story of Rita and Jing from Taipei, who emigrate to the U.S. and the stories of their daughters, Narisa and Eleanor, born and raised in New York.

The adult Eleanor, on her own, quits her PhD program in neuroscience; her older sister Narisa disappeared for good while a teen, after one too many fights with her harsh and disapproving parents. And only Eleanor and her mother Rita are left in the family after the father Jing leaves home and forms a new family in Taipei.

After Rita's death, Eleanor has to face the truth of both her parents' lives and her own.

I was left amazed and dismayed at the family dynamics in this novel, especially that created by the parents. I wondered how Eleanor would cope with the history of people leaving/quitting and with the story of her mother Rita, left alone to raise the girls in the U.S. when Jing left the family.

The novel follows two separate story lines, a complex one of the parents and their extended family in NY and that of the girls raised in the U.S. I found both stories fascinating.

Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong
Published:July 11, 2017; Henry Holt and Co.
Genre: literary fiction, contemporary, family drama, adult fiction

Ruth used to go to Charleston with her boyfriend Joel for the holidays, but no more. After they broke up, Ruth is left with the prospect of going home to her parents in LA, parents she hasn't seen in a while.

While there, Ruth decides to stay and help out as her father is developing dementia and losing coping skills. The novel centers around Ruth and their mother and her brother Linus's attempts to ease their father and themselves into a new reality. 

Written with a lot of humor and pathos, Goodbye, Vitamin tells a story of a family support of a loved one whose personality is slowly changing. I gave this novel five stars.

Sea Change
by Gina Chung

Publication: March 28, 2023, Vintage

Genre: family drama, speculative fiction, animal story, contemporary

The story of Ro's friendship with Dolores, the giant Pacific octopus, is a heartwarming one, especially since it's her only connection with her missing science father, who had discovered and captured the octopus which now resides in the local aquarium.

I was a little disappointed when the story veers away from Ro's father never returning and her boyfriend leaving, perhaps forever, on a space exploration trip to Mars.

The novel includes Ro's friends and other young Korean Americans and their lives in the U.S. Their stories don't mesh with the story of Dolores, the giant Pacific Northwest octopus and the sadness of Ro's missing father.

The information about the octopus, its personality and its importance to Ro are the key parts of the novel although at least half of the book is devoted to Ro's other friends. 

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

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