Apr 28, 2024

Sunday Salon: Quick Trip and a Book Review of The Other Passenger by J.E. Rowney

 I’m visiting relatives in Toronto and am also reading The Other Passenger The Other Passenger by J. E. Downey. A new book from NetGalley, publication May 31, 2024. 

May 31, 2024

Description: On the run from their pasts, a man and a woman are forced together by the weather and by necessity. When a radio news broadcast reports that a body has been found further back along the road on which they are travelling, tensions rise and it’s only so long before the truth must come out. But the truth is never quite what you imagine.''

My review: 
Emma and David are both running away from something and land up in the same car during a terrific storm on a dark night in a remote area of England. David we know from the outset is upset at being passed over for an award at work that he was sure he was going to get; Emma is trying to find her sister Angeline.

The descriptions of the car ride into the stormy night and of the two strangers in the same car going somewhere, but not knowing exactly where, carries the story. The plot is not complicated but the background stories and the interaction between the two strangers, forty-year- old David and the 21-year-old Emma, also carry the story.

The ending of this psychological thriller came as a surprise. It was well worth reading for the writing as well as for the plot.

Hope you are all enjoying spring or whichever weather zone you are in. I’m loving the good food here that I can’t get back home, namely dim sum with all the varieties, Jamaican patties, and sticky rice with roast pork and mushrooms. 

And of course seeing relatives again. 

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

Apr 20, 2024

Magic, High Fantasy, Historical Fiction: the Poppy War Trilogy


Another book came in the mail, thanks to Wiley Saickek Publicity.

A Fondness for Truth: A Linder and  Donatellli Mystery by Swiss/American author, Kim Hays, April 16, 2024, Seventh Street Books

Genre: thriller, mystery

Description: Andi Eberhart is riding her bicycle homewhen she is killed in a hit-and-run. Her partner Nisha is convinced the death was no accident since Andi had been receiving homophobic hate mail for several years. Nisha, a second-generation immigrant from Sri Lanka, has her own problems; her traditional Tamil father has banished her from the family home and won’t acknowledge Nisha and Andi’s baby daughter.

Homicide Detective Giuliana Linder is assigned to investigate what happened to Andi. This is the third book in the series, and I'm looking forward to reading it.

Currently reading

The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang, May 1, 2018; Harper Voyager

Genre: historical fiction, fantasy, high fantasy, magic 

Description: When Rin aced the Keju—the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth to learn at the Academies—it was a shock to everyone: to the test officials, who couldn’t believe a war orphan from Rooster Province could pass without cheating; to Rin’s guardians, who believed they’d finally be able to marry her off and further their criminal enterprise; and to Rin herself, who realized she was finally free of the servitude and despair that had made up her daily existence. That she got into Sinegard—the most elite military school in Nikan—was even more surprising.

But surprises aren’t always good....

An epic historical military fantasy, inspired by the bloody history of China’s twentieth century and filled with treachery and magic. I had to read this to see why it received all the awards and accolades. Apart from being a Goodreads Choice Award for 2018, the first book received 

Nebula Award Nominee for Best Novel (2018)Locus Award Nominee for First Novel (2019)World Fantasy Award Nominee for Best Novel (2019)Compton Crook Award (2019)British Fantasy Award Nominee for Best Newcomer (Sydney J. Bounds Award) (2019), and several other award nominations

The other books in the trilogy are

The Dragon Republic and 

The Burning God. All three books won the Goodreads Choice and the last two were also nominated for awards.

R. F. Kuang is also the author of Babel, Yellowface 

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

Apr 13, 2024

Voices of the Old and the New: Corky Lee and Julia Alvarez



Corky Lee's Asian America

Fifty Years of Photographic Justice

Publication April 9, 2024; Clarkson Potter/Ten Speed Press, NG

Photos celebrating the history and cultural impact of the Asian American social justice movement, from a beloved photographer who sought to change the world, one photograph at a time.

Corky Lee
American activist, community organizer, photographer, journalist, and the self-proclaimed unofficial Asian American Photographer Laureate. He called himself an "ABC from NYC ... wielding a camera to slay injustices against APAs." Wikipedia

I heard a lot about Corky Lee and his photographs showing Asian American activism in the U.S.

Introduction to the book

John J. Lee, Chee Wang Ng & Mae Ngai

This is the story of a man who endeavored to change the world, one photograph at a time. Who dared to create a record of an upheaval—of thoughts and beliefs that held a people down, of an ignorant nation that prevented the growth of ideas new and better. The truth and a bit of justice. This is the story of our brother and friend, whom the world came to know as Corky Lee.

With each photograph he took, Corky aimed to break the stereotype of Asian Americans as docile, passive, and above all, foreign to the United States. He insisted that Asian Americans are Americans, that they were, and are, part of this country, of its history and the ongoing project of its making. As he wrote after 9/11, “Do not let anyone tell you to go back to the country of your ancestors. You belong here. Immigrants built America. It was created for you and me.”

Published April 2, 2024; Algonquin Press, NG
Genre: magical realism, historical fiction

The Cemetery of Untold Stories asks: Whose stories get to be told, and whose buried?  Julia Alvarez reminds us that the stories of our lives are never truly finished, even at the end.

The plot: Alma Cruz, the writer in The Cemetery of Untold Stories, inherits a plot of land in the Dominican Republic, her homeland; she creates a graveyard for the manuscript drafts and revisions and the characters whose lives she tried and failed to bring to life and who still haunt her. 
Among them: Bienvenida, the abandoned second wife of dictator Rafael Trujillo, consigned to oblivion by history, and Manuel Cruz, a doctor who fought in the Dominican underground and escaped to the United States.
Alma wants her characters to rest in peace. But they have other ideas, and the cemetery becomes a mysterious sanctuary for their true narratives. 
The characters defy their author: they talk back to her and talk to one another behind her back, rewriting and revising themselves.


left the Dominican Republic for the United States in 1960 at the age of ten. Her books and poetry have garnered wide recognition. In the Time of the Butterflies was selected by the National Endowment for the Arts for its national Big Read program, and in 2013 President Obama awarded Alvarez the National Medal of Arts in recognition of her extraordinary storytelling.

What are you reading/watching this week? Are any of them new releases? 

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

Apr 6, 2024

TV Drama, Thriller, Rom Com: Sunday Salon

 Watching TV

I've found a few good Korean, Chinese, and Japanese tv dramas dubbed in English or with English captioning, such as Midnight Diner, set in a district of Tokyo and based on the manga by Yarō Abe titled Shin'ya Shokudō. 

Queen of Tears promotional poster (Wikipedia)

The Korean drama I'm watching is Queen of Tears, and am waiting for the 9th episode airing tomorrow. There are 16 episodes in all, so I'll have to wait week by week to see them all. 

The story:  a haughty department store owner marries a lawyer from a poor farming family who courts her thinking she is sweet but poor girl. After she commits a terrible betrayal in their marriage, the two become estranged for over several years, though he continues working for their wealthy family in Seoul. The couple faces multiple crises but may find their way back together. Just how and if they will make it is the theme right now as the husband has come to despise his controlling wife, keeping divorce papers on hand.

Why do I watch K dramas?  The romance plots and family dynamics are complex, and so are the interesting and often humorous side characters populating the many episodes, more than any one book can hold!  The cinematography is usually very good. 

Currently reading

House of Glass by Sarah Pekkanen, August 6, 2024 by St. Martin's Press, NG

Genre: thriller, domestic drama, child advocate

What I've read so far: Nine-year-old Rose stopped speaking after seeing her nanny Tina fall to her death from an upstairs window. A lawyer and child advocate is sent to determine which of the parents Rose should live with after their upcoming divorce. This is the setting of the thriller. 

The advocate, Stella, is determined to find out if the pregnant nanny's death was an accident or a murder and by whom. Everyone in the house seems to be lying, making it harder for the lawyer to make any decisions about the child's final custody.

Flashbacks to Stella's own childhood trauma, hearing her mother's murder, haunts this story as Stella decides to also find out the truth about her own mother. 

Rom Com in the Mail

Thanks to Avon Books for One Last Word by Suzanne Park, April 16, 2024

Many rom coms are hit or miss but this plot looks entertaining.

Description: an aspiring tech entrepreneur develops an app, which sends messages to loved ones after you pass. She accidentally sends her final words to all the important people in her life—including the venture capital mentor she’s crushing on.

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

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...