“AfroSF is the first ever anthology of Science Fiction by African writers only that was open to submissions of original (previously unpublished) works across Africa and abroad.”
Short story collections take me so long to read. I’ve had this book on my iPad for years. Here are some of my favorites.
Moom by Nnedi Okorafor – This is the short story that was reworked into the opening of her novel Lagoon. What if alien first contact on Earth was made by a swordfish?
Home Affairs by Sarah Lotz – I loved this story of a bureaucratic nightmare taking place in a modern city. When I think of African sci fi I tend to think of monsters and countryside. This turns those assumptions around and makes a nightmare out of the most annoying aspects of modern life – waiting in line.
The Sale by Tendai Huchu – Third world countries have been sold to corporations and citizens’ health is monitored at all times in these new perfect cities. But what if you want to rebel?
Planet X by S.A. Partridge – A new alien society has made contact and the people of Earth are afraid. One girl thinks that humans have more to fear from themselves than from the aliens.
Closing Time by Liam Kruger – Alcohol and time travel shouldn’t be taken together
“Funny, free-spirited Annie Quintana and sophisticated, ambitious Julia St. Clair come from two different worlds. Yet, as the daughter of the St. Clair’s housekeeper, Annie grew up in Julia’s San Francisco mansion and they forged a bond that only two little girls who know nothing of class differences and scholarships could—until a life-altering betrayal destroyed their friendship.
A decade later, Annie is now a talented, if underpaid, pastry chef who bakes to fill the void left in her heart by her mother’s death. Julia, a successful businesswoman, is tormented by a painful secret that could jeopardize her engagement to the man she loves. When a chance reunion prompts the unlikely duo to open a cupcakery, they must overcome past hurts and a mysterious saboteur or risk losing their fledgling business and any chance of healing their fractured friendship.”
There is a lot going on in this book. There is a relationship between Annie and Julia. There is the mystery of the vandalism. There is tension between Julia and her fiance. Annie is trying to find a recipe book of her mother’s. It is a bit too much taken all together. What stuck with me was this:
This book is the story of two people who were raised together but who see the world completely differently because of their racial and class backgrounds.
Annie is Hispanic and working class. She lived in an upper class world but never was allowed to forget that she was the daughter of a servant.
Julia is white and upper class. She can’t understand why Annie is still bitter from her experiences in high school. She hasn’t thought about that in years.
Julia is looking for a diversion for a year and offers Annie the chance to open her dream bakery. Despite her reservations Annie agrees because this is the only way she will ever receive funding. They can’t even agree on where to open it. Annie insists on the Mission but Julia is convinced that is a dangerous, lower class area. When the bakery is vandalized repeatedly during construction it seems like Julia may have been right.
“When Ellie Hall lands her dream job running the little teashop in the beautiful but crumbling Claverham Castle, it’s the perfect escape from her humdrum job in the city. Life is definitely on the rise as Ellie replaces spreadsheets for scones, and continues her Nanna’s brilliant baking legacy.
When Lord Henry, the stick-in-the-mud owner, threatens to burst her baking bubble with his old-fashioned ways, Ellie wonders if she might have bitten off more than she can chew.”
Ellie has always wanted to bake for a living but her parents have encouraged her to get a steady and reliable job. Now she has a chance to run a seasonal tea shop in a castle in the northeast part of England. She is even allowed to live in – a fact that horrifies her mother. She doesn’t see how Ellie will survive in a remote area that is *gasp* over an hour drive from her parents’ house. Ah, bless the British and their warped sense of distance. It always makes me laugh in books when they discussed drives that Americans would do without thought to go to a restaurant as epic adventures requiring careful planning lest disaster fall upon them.
The owner of the castle isn’t a fan of business or of letting people come traipsing around his family home. He needs the money to keep the place up though. The castle isn’t a huge tourist attraction so keeping it afloat and learning how to make a small tea shop profitable isn’t easy.
Soon Ellie is scraping by and mostly eating left over pastries for every meal. She doesn’t want to admit to her parents that things aren’t going well. She determined to make a go of her little tea shop.
I couldn’t sleep one night and downloaded and read this book all in one sitting. It was sweet and cute. It was perfect for a light read. I would recommend this for any chick lit or light romance fans or anyone who ever dreamed of quitting their job and cooking for a living.
I’m jealous of British high tea. You can’t get anything like it around here. I torture myself by following Kelly Michelle on Twitter. She has gluten free high tea a lot. I just look at her pictures and drool. I’m going to Washington DC in July and you can get afternoon tea at a few of the fancy hotels. I’m taking the opportunity while I’m there.
When Kelly Madigan is offered a job abroad right after reading a letter from her late mother urging her to take more risks, she sees it as a sign. Kelly’s new ghostwriting assignment means moving to London to work for Natasha Spencer--movie star, lifestyle guru, and wife of a promising English politician. As it turns out, Natasha is also selfish, mercurial, and unwilling to let any actual food past her perfect lips.
Still, in between testing dozens of kale burgers and developing the perfect chocolate mousse, Kelly is having adventures. Some are glamorous; others, like her attraction to her boss’s neglected husband, are veering out of control. Kelly knows there’s no foolproof recipe for a happy life. But how will she know if she’s gone too far in reaching for what she wants?
So I couldn’t sleep one night and finished what I was reading. I looked for something to download from the library -because I don’t have a bunch of unread books just sitting on my iPad?? Anyway, I wanted something new and this fit the bill. Good for Foodies Read and light. I ended up staying up most of the night to read it.
Kelly’s life is undergoing some major changes. Her mother just died. She left Kelly a letter with her wishes for her. One of the main ones was to move out of the Midwest and take some chances with her life. When the opportunity comes to move to London for a year to ghost write a cookbook for a movie star she jumps at the chance even though it means breaking up with her long term boyfriend (also on her mother’s list of things for her to do).
When she gets to England she discovers that superstar Natasha doesn’t really want anything to do with the cookbook. She wants Kelly to come up with recipes from her vague descriptions of meals she remembers but doesn’t really even want to taste the food. The only person who does like the food is Natasha’s husband Hugh. This leads to flirting and then major attraction. He insists that he and Natasha have a marriage in name only but should Kelly believe him?
I really enjoyed this book. There are recipes in the back for some of the food discussed. I wish there had been a recipe for the kale burgers that she struggles to make for most of the book only to have them dismissed by Natasha every time. “Not green enough,” etc.
I’m looking forward to reading more from this author.
A library apprentice, a sorcerer prince, and an unbreakable magic bond...
The Solaris Empire is one conquest away from uniting the continent, and the rare elemental magic sleeping in seventeen-year-old library apprentice Vhalla Yarl could shift the tides of war.
Vhalla has always been taught to fear the Tower of Sorcerers, a mysterious magic society, and has been happy in her quiet world of books. But after she unknowingly saves the life of one of the most powerful sorcerers of them all—the Crown Prince Aldrik—she finds herself enticed into his world. Now she must decide her future: Embrace her sorcery and leave the life she’s known, or eradicate her magic and remain as she’s always been. And with powerful forces lurking in the shadows, Vhalla’s indecision could cost her more than she ever imagined.
I received Air Awakens from my OTSP Secret Sister. I had heard that it was good but didn’t know much about it. I figured this was a good time to start reading the series because I thought the last book was just released. Turns out that book 4 was just released and there is a book 5 that is coming out in July.
I ended up binging on the first three books over the course of 2 days. I finally made myself stop before reading book 4. I loved this world and this story. I was totally immersed in it. You know how when you are deep in a story and you start thinking in the author’s style of writing. That was me. I had to force myself to come back to the real world for a while.
The books all end with cliff hangers too. Actually in one case it is falling off of a cliff. I knew that if I read book four and there was no option to find out what happened, I wasn’t going to be happy. I had to make the decision to stop instead of it being made for me.
In the first book, Air Awakens, Vhalla is a library apprentice who more comfortable with books than people. When she is called upon to help research a cure for a curse put on a prince it is discovered that she possesses magic. Magic users are powerful but are shunned by most of society so she doesn’t want to be magical. But now that her magic is starting to manifest itself she doesn’t have a choice. She is trained by the Prince himself because he realizes that she has an affinity for working with Air. There hasn’t been a sorcerer with that affinity since they were all slaughtered in a war one hundred years ago. They were considered too dangerous and even now some powerful people aren’t sure that Vhalla should be allowed to live.
Ok, so I’m moving to the next book so this might get a little spoilery. You’ve been warned.
To contain Vhalla’s power she has been made property of the crown and is being sent into the war as a weapon of mass destruction. She doesn’t want to go to war. In her mind she’s still a librarian. But she needs to learn to use her power to survive and to protect her friends who are marching with her.
Usually I hate, hate, hate romances in books. That goes double for romances in YA books. I think they are awful. This is one of the few romances that I actually love. The chemistry between the characters is incredible.
The Prince is greviously injured and Vhalla is the only one who will be able to save him. The lengths she goes to illustrates for everyone how much she loves him. His father is not having this so he tightens his control over Vhalla. Now she realizes that she will never be able to earn her freedom from him.
OMG, the ending! Nope. Nope. Nope. This is why I had to make a conscious decision to walk away after 2 days of nonstop reading. I needed to know what happened but if there is an ending like that in book 4 with no way to read book 5 yet, I would not be happy. Right now I’m telling myself that I used my will power to walk away.
"Brilliant idea! Excellent! Muslim dating? Well, I had no idea you were allowed to date.' Then he leaned towards me and looked at me sympathetically. 'Are your parents quite disappointed?'
Unlucky in love once again after her possible-marriage-partner-to-be proves a little too close to his parents, Sofia Khan is ready to renounce men for good. Or at least she was, until her boss persuades her to write a tell-all expose about the Muslim dating scene.
As her woes become her work, Sofia must lean on the support of her brilliant friends, baffled colleagues and baffling parents as she goes in search of stories for her book. In amongst the marriage-crazy relatives, racist tube passengers and decidedly odd online daters, could there be a lingering possibility that she might just be falling in love . . . ?
Sofia Khan’s almost-fiance has told her that he expects them to live with his parents in side by side houses connected through a hole in the wall. She breaks off the relationship.
Now she is forced to face her extended family again who can’t figure out what her problem is. She’s so old! She’s (gasp) 30! How will she ever find a husband at her advanced age?
Her mother says it is because she insists on wearing a hijab. Everyone else just thinks she is too picky.
When she makes a comment in a staff meeting about her dating life, her superiors decide that she should write a book about Muslim dating. She signs up for Muslim online dating sites to try to gain stories for the book. That’s in between dealing with crisis after crisis with her sister’s wedding and hiding her father’s cigarettes from her mother and trying to convince her friend not to marry a man who is already married.
I loved this book. It was a perfect light read. I actually stayed up way too late reading it while trying to convince myself that even though I was only 56% done I could finish it fairly soon. The husband had to gently remind me that I had to go to work in the morning and I really should get some sleep.
Sofia had a great voice. She’s a modern Londoner who takes her faith seriously which makes her a bit of an outsider to her coworkers and to her family. She deals with racism on the streets of London. She isn’t sure exactly what she wants to do when she grows up but she knows it isn’t being a live in slave to a demanding mother-in-law. She isn’t particularly interested in learning to cook anyway.
This is Ayshia Malik’s first book. I’m looking forward to seeing what she writes next.
Beka Cooper is a rookie with the law-enforcing Provost's Guard, commonly known as "the Provost's Dogs," in Corus, the capital city of Tortall. To the surprise of both the veteran "Dogs" and her fellow "puppies," Beka requests duty in the Lower City. The Lower City is a tough beat. But it's also where Beka was born, and she's comfortable there.
Beka gets her wish. She's assigned to work with Mattes and Clary, famed veterans among the Provost's Dogs. They're tough, they're capable, and they're none too happy about the indignity of being saddled with a puppy for the first time in years. What they don't know is that Beka has something unique to offer. Never much of a talker, Beka is a good listener. So good, in fact, that she hears things that Mattes and Clary never could - information that is passed in murmurs when flocks of pigeons gather ... murmurs that are the words of the dead.
Recently I’ve been seeing posts singing the praises of Tamora Pierce. I had to admit that I had never heard of her even though she written a gazillion books. (There are 79 distinct works listed on Goodreads.) I decided to give her a try and Terrier was an available ebook on my library’s website.
I’m not sure what I was expecting. Fantasy? YA? Whatever it was, it wasn’t this.
This book reads more like a crime story than typical fantasy. There are fantasy elements. It is set in a fictional world with its own unique idioms and cultures. There is magic. But those things are secondary to the story being told.
Beka is a police trainee. Real police are known as Dogs and trainees are Puppies. She is assigned to a rough part of the city by request and is partnered with a well known team of Dogs. She wants to be here because she comes from these streets. As a child she helped the Provost with a tip on a crime gang and when he went to thank her he found her living with her terminally ill mother and her younger siblings. He took the family into his household. Now her siblings are growing up with aspirations of a better life than Beka could have ever imagined for them but she is afraid that they are ashamed of her and where they came from.
Beka is also magical. She can hear the ghosts that ride on the backs of pigeons. She can hear the snippets of conversation that get caught up in wind swirls in city corners. She has a feline companion named Pounce who may or may not be a God. He isn’t saying. She uses this information to find out about two crime sprees going on under the noses of the Dogs.
She has other issues too. Twenty percent of puppies die during training. A charming gangster who is new in town and his entourage decide to move into her boarding house. Her childhood best friend has married into a crime lord’s family and now her son was murdered.
The policing skills she are learning are a bit questionable. She learns the correct etiquette for taking individual bribes and how to collect the weekly bribes due to the Dogs as an organization. She is learning the proper way to beat criminals into submission. Bribery and police brutality are just how things are done in this world.
I enjoyed this first book in the Beka Cooper series. I will definitely be reading more. Thanks to Nori and everyone else who has recommended her recently.
It's Carnival time, and the Carribean-colonized planet of Toussaint is celebrating with music, dance and pageantry. Masked "Midnight Robbers" waylay revelers with brandished weapons and spellbinding words. But to young Tan-Tan, the Robber Queen is simply a favourite costume to wear at the festival--until her power-corrupted father commits an unforgivable crime.
Suddenly, both father and daughter are thrust into the brutal world of New Half-Way Tree. Here monstrous creatures from folklore are real, and the humans are violent outcasts in the wilds. Here Tan-Tan must reach into the heart of myth--and become the Robber Queen herself. For only the Robber Queen's legendary powers can save her life...and set her free.
Toussaint is a world first settled by people from the Caribbean. Everything is controlled and monitored by nanobots. People are provided for and no one needs to do manual labor unless they want to do it. Tan-Tan’s father is the mayor of her town. He and her mother have a tempestuous relationship. Both are immature and self-centered. When her father commits a crime, he knows how he will be punished. He will be sent through a dimensional rift to New Half-Way Tree, another version of Toussaint without the technology. This is a one way journey. No one ever comes back.
I’m been meaning to read Nalo Hopkinson for a while. In the beginning this was a very difficult book for me to read because of the Creole that it is written in. She uses pronouns and verb tenses that don’t match. It actually hurt to read. I’m such a grammar snob, that even though I knew it was deliberate, it was so jarring that I didn’t think I could get into the story because of it. Eventually, I was able to let it slide enough to read the story. I think it was the repetitive nature of the wrongness that numbed me to it.
Another thing I wondered while reading this – Are there any novels about Caribbean men that portray them in a positive light? Granted, I’ve only read novels written by Caribbean women so they may be biased but they can’t all be this horrible. Tan-Tan’s father is lazy and arrogant. He takes Tan-Tan to New Half-Way Tree with him without making any preparations for their new life. He is mean to the local population. He doesn’t have any redeeming qualities. It is hard to read about Tan-Tan loving him so much when he is so awful.
This is also a story about colonization. There is a native race on New Half-Way Tree. The prisoner-immigrants from Toussaint treat them as inferior. They don’t know that the natives are playing along with their ignorance. Tan-Tan finds herself at the mercy of them after a few years on the planet. Should they help her or will her presence in their community lead to disaster?
A former paramedic’s visceral, poignant, and mordantly funny account of a decade spent on Atlanta’s mean streets saving lives and connecting with the drama and occasional beauty that lies inside catastrophe.
In the aftermath of 9/11 Kevin Hazzard felt that something was missing from his life—his days were too safe, too routine. A failed salesman turned local reporter, he wanted to test himself, see how he might respond to pressure and danger. He signed up for emergency medical training and became, at age twenty-six, a newly minted EMT running calls in the worst sections of Atlanta. His life entered a different realm—one of blood, violence, and amazing grace.
When I started reading this book I realized that I had missed some important information in my life. I didn’t know the difference between EMTs (Emergency Medical Technicians) and Paramedics. Basically, paramedics are trained to make medical decisions like what drugs to give and EMTs are not. They can start IVs and move patients but don’t make the medical treatment decisions.
To become an EMT a person takes a course and then has to pass a test. When the author did this, he entered into a whole new world.
His first position was with a private ambulance company. They mostly transport elderly patients from nursing homes to appointments. The turnover rate for employees was staggeringly high.
His goal was to work for Grady. That is a hospital in Atlanta that handles most of the inner city. Along the way he goes to paramedic school and has to deal with burn out after years of working in a high crime area with little to no support.
He sees people at their worst from dealing with arguing relatives to picking up mental ill people on drugs to getting an overdose patient’s friends to admit to what they had taken so they can help them. He has to deal with coworkers who are burnt out themselves from the hours and abuse.
The book goes into detail about what it is like to handle accident scenes and medical emergencies. It reads like having a conversation with anyone in a medical field where eventually you realize that the normal people around you are starting to get grossed out and you don’t understand why.
Ex-archaeology grad student turned international antiquities thief, Alix—better known now as Owl—has one rule. No supernatural jobs. Ever. Until she crosses paths with Mr. Kurosawa, a red dragon who owns and runs the Japanese Circus Casino in Las Vegas. He insists Owl retrieve an artifact stolen three thousand years ago, and makes her an offer she can’t refuse: he’ll get rid of a pack of vampires that want her dead. A dragon is about the only entity on the planet that can deliver on Owl’s vampire problem—and let’s face it, dragons are known to eat the odd thief.
Owl had a promising career ahead of her as an archeologist until she uncovered a supernatural site and her department made her a scapegoat. Archeologists don’t allow publication of supernatural sites. They keep them covered up.
Now Owl is using her knowledge as a very discreet and very expensive thief. It was going well until she accidentally exposed an ancient vampire to the sun during a job and his underlings are angry. Now she’s on the run and living off the grid with her Egyptian Mau cat, Captain. His breed was developed to sense and fight vampires.
The Japanese Circus is a Las Vegas casino that turns out to be owned by a dragon. She did a job for him without knowing he was a dragon and now he wants another. She can’t really refuse and stay alive.
This is a great start to a series that is different than other urban fantasy stories. Owl’s friend Nadya got out of the archeology program too and now runs a bar in Tokyo. You find out a lot about the host and hostess bar culture in Tokyo where having an attractive person pay attention to you is part of the provided atmosphere. The creatures in this supernatural world are familiar but each has a few different characteristics that aren’t commonly seen.
Owl is stubborn and doesn’t listen well to advice. She gets into trouble over and over because of it. That can get a little annoying to read but the author has made it make sense in context. I’m looking forward to reading more in this series.
Victoria's Recipe for Marriage: Take two adventurous newlyweds and place them on a floundering yacht where the wife is the chef, and her boss, the captain, is also her husband. Add two inexperienced crew members, an anorexic diva and her bully of a husband, a CEO who thinks he's in charge, a drunken first mate, and a randy wife looking for diversion. Stir with a violent storm and a rapidly flooding engine room. Apply pressure and watch the situation simmer to a boil. Sprinkled with over 30-mouthwatering recipes and spiced with tales of adventure, SEAsoned is the hilarious look at a yacht chef's first year working for her husband while they cruise from the Bahamas to Italy, France, Greece and Spain, trying to stay afloat.
Victoria Allman and her husband have just gotten their big break. He is going to be the captain of a yacht after years of working on crews. To do this though they have to lower their standards. They aren’t going to be on a big boat. They are taking on a measly 100 foot yacht that isn’t in the best of shape.
I was very surprised when I heard her refer to a 100 foot yacht as a small boat. I’ve seen those things in marinas and they are huge. That’s your first clue that the lives of the rich people who rent these yachts are a bit different.
Victoria and her husband run the yacht with two crew members. She is the chef. She has to decide what to stock in the very small galley and what she might be able to find to cook with in ports that they call at. If the passengers change their destination at the last minute or if they invite their friends from another yacht over, she might have to scramble. She makes elaborate meal plans that can be crushed with a breezy “Here’s what I want for lunch…”
They start out doing charters in the Bahamas until the yacht is damaged enough that it has to go in for lengthy repairs. They then pick up another job on a 200 foot yacht in the Mediterranean. This makes Victoria happy because of the bigger galley but adds more crew member problems.
This is a behind the scenes look at a life of luxury that most people would never experience. See what it takes to cater to another person’s every whim while living in cramped quarters with your spouse.
There are a lot of recipes in here too. Most are meat based but there is one for a Santorini Eggplant Salad that sounds interesting.
I enjoyed the story telling in this book and wished it were a bit longer to immerse myself in this world for a while more.
"Moving Pictures "is the story of the awkward and dangerous relationship between curator Ila Gardner and officer Rolf Hauptmann, as they are forced by circumstances to play out their private lives in a public power struggle. The narrative unfolds along two timelines which collide with the revelation of a terrible secret, an enigmatic decision that not many would make, and the realization that sometimes the only choice left is the refusal to choose.
I’ve talked here before about not being a big comic/graphic novel fan because they are too short. However, my library just got Hoopla which lets you read graphic novels from their collection on an iPad. I figured I would be more likely to read them that way than getting multiple short books from the library. After I read my first 25 page comic on the life of Ganesh, which was interesting, I realized that I could only download 10 books a month. That killed my plan to read all the short ones about the Indian gods and goddesses. So I started looking to see what books they had that were fairly long.
Moving Pictures is 146 pages. It is the story of a Canadian woman working at a French museum during World War II. She has been in charge of boxing up the non-important works of art and storing them in the basement of her museum. She has decided to stay in France during the war for reasons that aren’t clear to her coworkers. At the beginning of the book she is being interrogated by a German officer about her work at the museum.
The artwork is black and white and very minimalist except when a particular piece of art is being discussed. It shows up well in digital form.
The story is told in flashbacks to show how these people ended up in this interrogation room.
This is a good introduction to historical fiction graphic novels.
After seven years of slogging through film roles too embarrassing to mention, twenty-eight-year-old struggling L.A. actress Raveena Rai has finally been offered a lead! A potentially career-making turn in a major Hollywood epic, perhaps? A meaty part in a serious drama with Oscar® written all over it? Not! To Raveena's great dismay (and her mother's delight) she's flying off to India to star in a new Bollywood extravaganza.
Oh well, a lead is a lead, after all. Never mind that it's a million humid degrees in Bombay, the Los Angeles of the East; that she has to live with a wacko distant uncle who sleeps under furniture and is the most stressed-out wannabe swami on the continent; that her director is a lecherous hack and his movie has the potential of being the very worst flick ever made anywhere! At least Raveena's leading man is the supremely sexy Siddharth, Bollywood's biggest star. But while their on-screen chemistry is electric-hot, off-screen the arrogant hunk treats her with total disdain ... or, worse still, ignores her.
Sometimes you just need something mindless to read. This has happened to me twice in the past few months. The first time I was mentally tired from being at a conference and needed something light and fluffy to read. The second time I had the flu. The second time I was on a self-imposed POC authors only challenge. I didn’t know who to read. I didn’t have a list of POC authors who write chick lit who immediately sprung to mind. All I could come up with was Terry McMillian but I’ve read all of her books.
I search Listopia on Goodreads and came up the Inclusive Chick Lit list. There are a lot of interesting sounding books on here. The only one that I was interested in and was immediately available for download from my library’s website was Bollywood Confidential.
It served its purpose admirably. I passed a flu addled afternoon reading about an Indian-American actress attempting to adjust to living and working in India. It was funny and cute.
“Since becoming a widow at age twenty-seven, Anjali Kapadia has devoted herself to transforming her parents’ sari shop into a chic boutique, brimming with exquisite jewelry and clothing. Now, ten years later, it stands out like a proud maharani amid Edison’s bustling Little India. But when Anjali learns the shop is on the brink of bankruptcy, she feels her world unraveling…”
“Ever since an article about Lupe Perez ran in the UCLA paper, she’s become the poster child for the American Dream: East L.A. bad girl who slashed cop makes good! She goes to school full-time, works in the food court, and volunteers at a center for at-risk teens. Against all odds, Lupe has turned her life around. The thing is, she never asked for all this attention. Now, her professor wants her to write a gigantic thesis about what Americanization means to Mexican immigrants-and she’s not even sure yet what it means to her.”
“Sunya Malhotra, a young American woman whose parents had migrated from India, is the head baker and owner of Pastries, a warm and cozy bakery in Seattle. Sunya loves baking and has transformed her fabulous cakes and tarts into delicious works of art. The success of her beloved bakery is put in jeopardy, however, when a chain bakery threatens to open up down the street from her. To add to her misery, Roger, her hip, Japanese boyfriend has left her for a “perfect” Japanese girlfriend and her mother has just become engaged to a man Sunya detests. Sunya hasn’t yet reconciled to the mystery of a father missing since her birth. Even a new relationship with a hot, young film director who is in town to cover the 1999 World Trade Conference, can’t help Sunya with her biggest worry – she has lost her touch for baking.”
“Too independent for Japanese society, Midori is a young woman who has always felt like a stranger in her native land. So when she falls in love with Kevin, an American English teacher, she readily agrees to leave home and start a new life with him in San Francisco—as his fiancée. Kevin seems to be the perfect man. That is, until he dumps her for his blonde ex, who Midori never even knew existed. With just a smattering of fractured English, not much cash, and a visa set to expire in sixty days, Midori realizes she’s in for quite a struggle. Unable to face the humiliation of telling her parents she’s been jilted, she decides to go it alone, surprising even herself as she proves she will do almost anything to hang on to her American Dream.”
“After an arranged marriage in her native India, Priya moves with her husband to California, where they share a house with his parents. Playing the traditional daughter- in-law role, shes expected to clean, cook, and because she doesn’t immediately get pregnantfind a job as well!
But the job, at a glossy Hollywood gossip magazine, isn’t at all what Priya’s in-laws had in mind for a traditional Indian wife. She soon finds herself with a secret life that she must hide from her disapproving new family.”
Do you have recommendations for light books by POC authors?
Pete McCarthy established one cardinal rule of travel in his bestselling debut, McCarthy's Bar: "Never pass a bar with your name on it." In this equally wry and insightful follow-up, his characteristic good humor, curiosity, and thirst for adventure take him on a fantastic jaunt around the world in search of his Irish roots -- from Morocco, where he tracks down the unlikely chief of the McCarthy clan, to New York, and finally to remote Mc-Carthy, Alaska. The Road to McCarthy is a quixotic and anything-but- typical Irish odyssey that confirms Pete McCarthy's status as one of our funniest and most incisive writers.
It all starts when the author hears that there is still a king of the McCarthy clan. Not everyone agrees that this is a legitimate title but he wants to meet him. The king is hard to find – enemies probably – and lives in Morocco. From there, Pete McCarthy is off to follow the Irish diaspora. He is half-Irish and half-English and grew up in England. His English accent is sometimes a problem in discussions in the most Irish of strongholds.
After Tangiers he travels to New York and attempts to crash the St. Patrick’s Day parade. Then it is off to Monserrat, a small island in the Caribbean that was populated by a large amount of Irish people before an erupting volcano decimated the population. He follows the travels of Irish republicans who were exiled to Tasmania. A few escaped and one became the governor of Montana so it is off to Butte. Finally he goes into the wilderness to McCarthy Alaska to see a town named after the family.
The tone of the book reminds me a lot of Bill Bryson. It is chatty with a lot of history thrown in but in bite sized pieces with the absurd facts pointed out.
In New York:
“Fitness is an overrated virtue in a law enforcement officer. In their way these guys are much more menacing. They’re putting out a subliminal message: ‘Don’t run away. We can’t chase you, so we’ll have to shoot.'”
On the joys of traveling:
“This is what tourists do all over the world. You see a sign for something you’ve never heard of and probably wouldn’t cross the road to see at home, and, bang, you’re there. And then people tell you about other things you ought to go and see. Once you’re in a small obscure are that the rest of the world knows nothing about someone will say, ‘Our big attraction is Satan’s Drain. You really should go.’ So you do. And you develop an interest in geological features and sea levels and all sorts of other stuff you’ve never cared about before…”
On finally reaching the end of the road in McCarthy Alaska:
“There are few more comforting experiences for the traveler than to journey great distances through unfamiliar and threatening landscapes, anticipating an austere and possibly squalid destination, only to discover that catering and interior design are not in the hands of heterosexuals.”
This is a great introduction to Irish history and the influence that the Irish people have had around the world.
Located in a nameless desert somewhere in the great American Southwest, Night Vale is a small town where ghosts, angels, aliens, and government conspiracies are all commonplace parts of everyday life. It is here that the lives of two women, with two mysteries, will converge.
If you aren’t familiar with the podcast Welcome To Night Vale, here’s the scoop. The story is told by Cecil, the radio announcer at the Night Vale radio station, where being an intern is a fatal position. Night Vale is a place where weird things are normal. The dog park is off limits to everyone, including dogs. The Secret Police are watching and no one believes in angels – including Old Woman Josie who happens to live with several. A scientist named Carlos moved to town to study the weirdness of Night Vale. Carlos has beautiful hair and Cecil loves him.
I’ve only listened to about 8 of the podcasts but it is enough to get familiar with the concept. The book tries to put a plot to the strange happenings. I don’t think that it succeeds very well. I enjoyed this book in brief snippets of 5 to 10 minutes at a time. Longer than that at one sitting and it got to be too much. This is a book that you enjoy for the absurdity of the discussion and not the greater story.
Enter the world of Mirra. She is a magic user, but her gift is scorned by the menfolk in her village. Men are allowed to use magic; women are not. So, after a tumultuous event, Mirra decides to leave and heads for the City to continue her own self-journey. This is her tale.
Mirra lives on a planet settled long ago by travelers from Earth. Their planet is volcanic and prone to a lot of seismic activity. Mirra’s village is on the coast. The women work as divers who harvest oysters for the meat and the pearls. The men in Mirra’s village are able to work with magic but that skill isn’t developed by women.
As a small child, Mirra finds that she is able to produce magical circles of light from her hands. She is punished for this. That is men’s work. She stifles her talents until one day the Sea Witch, a reviled female magic user from a nearby village, comes to the village to see her. This enrages the men of the village who throw Mirra into seclusion. The consequences of this action are dire. In the aftermath, Mirra leaves and moves to The City to attend a school the Sea Witch is running to learn about her magic.
Of Oysters, Pearls, and Magic is a novella. It is listed as only 79 pages on my ereader and the ebook contains a few short stories at the end from the POV of other characters. It tells the story of Mirra’s life as she is educated and finds love in The City, only to have to leave her home again because of natural disasters.
The setting of this book is a planet settled mainly by Asians from Earth. I don’t think I’ve read anything with that setting before and now I’ve had two reviews of books in a row like that. Also like yesterday’s book, The Stars Change, this story looks at changing family structures. Here people choose to either be single, paired, or a triad. Mirra becomes part of a triad.
Because of the brief length of the story and the many years that pass during it, there isn’t a lot of development of each story point. This reads a lot like a detailed outline for a longer book.
Food is a major part of this story. I didn’t anticipate that when I started the book. Mirra associates home with the taste of seafood stews and oyster fritters. Sharing food with strangers is customary. There are several recipes for the food in the book shared. Most of seafood based so it won’t be something I’m making but there is a recipe for rice balls that sounds tasty.
The Stars Change: an erotic science fiction novel-in-stories. On a South Asian-settled university planet, tensions are rising, and as they reach the brink of interstellar war, life (and sex) continues. Humans, aliens, and modified humans gather at the University of All Worlds in search of knowledge... and self-knowledge... but the first bomb has fallen and the fate of this multicultural, multispecies mecca is in question. Some people will seek solace in physical contact, some will look for spiritual answers, while others will find their strength in community, family, and love.
In the future people from South Asia settle a distant planet. Their descendants have established a prestigious university that attracts students from all over the galaxy. But tensions have been rising for years between humans and nonhumans and now the human supremacy movement has launched a missile into a nonhuman population center.
This story is told starting with short stories that introduce the main characters.
Kimsriyalani – a feline-like nonhuman computer programming student who has sex with a stranger in the park that night
Amara – a human woman who is married to the man Kimsriyalani has sex with. He comes home and tells her and she grabs a bag and leaves him. She doesn’t know where to go. She can’t go home to her very traditional mother.
Narita – a genetically modified human woman who wanted to marry Amara nine years ago. Amara knew her family wouldn’t accept a modified human so she left her and had her mother arrange a marriage. Now she goes to Narita’s house to escape her marriage but Narita doesn’t want to let her in because she is sheltering a group of aliens who were injured in the blast.
Gaurav – a reptilian police officer who is the only one of his kind on the planet. He got stuck here when his planned transport disappeared into a worm hole.
Chieri – a religious prostitute and empath who had a customer tonight who was celebrating the successful missile strike he set off. She goes to Gaurav to report it.
When Gaurav’s superiors don’t believe the words of a prostitute who says that more attacks are coming at sunrise, it is up to these people to follow the clues to stop further attacks.
This is advertised as erotic fiction and it is that in the beginning but as the story progresses that aspect of it falls away. There’s no time for sex when you are fighting for your life. (Yeah, I’m still giving you the side eye Outlander.)
This is a short book and a quick read. It shows how people of various creeds and species can pull together to protect what they love.
A beautiful scarf, passed down through the generations, connects two women who learn that the weight of the world is made bearable by the love we give away....
Clara Wood worked as a nurse in a doctor’s office in a building that housed the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory on the top floors. She has a flirtation with a bookkeeper who works at Triangle. After the fire happens, she doesn’t want to return to the building. She gets a job on Ellis Island. She nurses the potential immigrants who are too sick to be admitted to New York.
When a man comes in whose wife died on route, Clara is drawn to him because of his grief. When she finds evidence that things weren’t as her patient thought in his marriage, she agonizes over what to do with this info while also working through how to move on in her own life.
Taryn Michaels was on her way to meet her husband at the World Trade Center when the planes hit. Now just before the 10 year anniversary, a picture has surfaced of Taryn and a man on the street just as the first tower fell. Reminders of that day make her realize that she is still carrying a lot of guilt about her role in inviting her husband to go to the Windows on the World restaurant at the top of the Tower that day.
Clara and Taryn are linked by a scarf that Clara’s patient’s wife owned that eventually being worn by Taryn when her picture was taken on 9/11.
The story is told alternating between Clara and Taryn. I found Clara’s story to be more interesting. I had read about the Triangle Shirtwaist fire but didn’t realize that it was in a multistory building with other businesses underneath that were unaffected.
I also didn’t know much about the treatment of sick immigrants in the hospital at Ellis Island.
A hilarious insight into the wild and wacky characters of an expat community in a familiar holiday destination, More Ketchup than Salsa is a must-read for anybody who has ever dreamed about jetting off to sunnier climes, finding a job abroad or flirted with the idea of ‘doing a Shirley Valentine’ in these trying economic times.
Joe Crawley’s step father bought a bar on the island of Tenerife and strongly suggested that his two stepsons and their partners run it. They all had dead-end jobs and no experience in the hospitality business but they moved from England to the Canary Islands to give it a go.
They quickly realized that running a bar and restaurant in a resort is very different than being on vacation yourself. They are surrounded by British people who want all the comforts of home – just on the beach.
“…at times it seemed like an imported little Britain full of patrons who thought that abroad was any sunny place bedecked in red, white and blue where the locals couldn’t talk properly.”
There was no call to go getting adventurous with the food either.
“For some stalwarts even our Hawaiian burger, simply chicken breast crowned with a pineapple ring, would prove too exotic for simple palates: “Hawaiian burger? Oooh nooooo. Foreign food doesn’t agree with me. Have you not got anything like curry or bolognaise?”
In between power outages, bureaucratic nightmares, the mafia, and hordes of cockroaches, they manage to make a go of it even if their relationships might not survive intact.
If you’ve ever considered quitting your job and going to live on the beach, read this book first.
Over 150 years after her death, a widely-used scientific computer program was named "Ada," after Ada Lovelace, the only legitimate daughter of the eighteenth century's version of a rock star, Lord Byron. Why?
Because, after computer pioneers such as Alan Turing began to rediscover her, it slowly became apparent that she had been a key but overlooked figure in the invention of the computer.
Ada Lovelace’s life sounds like it was made just for the tabloids.
Her father was the poet Lord Byron. He was famous in England for his legendary affairs as well as for his poetry. He decided to marry when he was in need of a major influx of cash to keep up his lavish lifestyle. He married a heiress and soon fathered his only legitimate child, Ada. His wife soon found out that he was still carrying on affairs, including one with his half-sister. (Apparently, it didn’t count as real incest because they didn’t share the same mother.) She took Ada and left when the baby was one month old. Lord Byron left England soon after, never to return.
Ada’s mother was determined not to let her child fall victim to the overactive imagination that she thought plagued the Byron line. She had her schooled in mathematics.
Two events focused the direction of Ada’s life. First, she learned about the Jacquard Loom. This was an automated loom that used punch cards to tell the loom what threads to raise and lower. Very complex patterns could be made this way.
This is considered the first computer program.
Secondly, she met Charles Babbage. He was working on machines that could do complex mathematical problems. She was fascinated by his work and started to help him figure it out. She was also able to imagine the implications of the machine. Her vision eclipsed anything Babbage had considered. She published a translation of an article on Babbage and added extensive notes that explained what a future with computing machines could look like.
The combination of the “overly imaginative” Byron line and her mathematical education created a visionary.
However, as a woman, she knew she wouldn’t be taken seriously. At first she didn’t even want to put her name on the article that became known as her Notes. Babbage persuaded her to at least put her initials. Over the years, her contributions to his work were downplayed. Letters written late in her life when she was heavily drugged against the pain of terminal uterine cancer were used to claim that she was a madwoman. However, letters to and from Babbage show that she was highly involved and that he valued her work.
Alan Turing referred to her work in the 1940s and 1950s when he was laying out the foundations for modern computing. He called it the Lovelace objection. She wrote that machines can only do what they are programmed to do. He said that she meant that computers can’t take us by surprise.
Babbage ended up rejecting a proposal from Lovelace where she offered to essentially be his spokesman for his analytical engine. She knew that he didn’t have the people skills to get it the exposure that she could. She was right. He never got it made. Some historians now think that if he had listened to her about its potential that England could have had a technological revolution in the mid-1800s. This model was made later.
My favorite quote from this book sums up Babbage. In college he and a group of friends “… founded a club which they called The Extractors, designed to help its members should any of them be the subject of a petition to get them sent to a lunatic asylum.” Planning ahead is important. It doesn’t seem that they never needed to invoke it.
This book is an excellent look at the life of an extraordinary woman. She died at the age of 36. Imagine what she could have accomplished had she lived longer.
The featured image at the top of the post is Ada’s Algorithm that she developed when working with Babbage. My only issue with this book is that I found myself skipping over long passages quoted from her writing on mathematical theory. My brain doesn’t like that kind of thing.