Saturday, May 25, 2019

Lovely Books and Things - 5.25.19

Lovely Books and Things
My Weekly Books and Films Update

Linking up with:
Sunday Post (details)
Mailbox Monday (details)



1. The summer reading list announcement for The Tournament of Books (here)

2. Got my fill of Asian, Pacific Islands and Asian American films at CAAMfest.

3. Singing Carmina Burana at Southern Pacific Brewing Co. with the Golden Gate Symphony Orchestra and Chorus.


Author event:

SFMOMA Public Knowledge Library hosted an Asian Pacific Heritage month event, My So-Called Filipino Egyptian Life with Malaka Gharib and her debut graphic novel, I Was Their American Dream. After Q&A with Malaka attendees were invited to join Malaka's zine making workshop.

This event was co-presented by San Francisco Public Library Excelsior Branch and PAL / The Pilipinx American Library, a movable library and programming platform dedicated exclusively to diasporic Filipinx narratives.

I Was Their American Dream
by Malaka Gharib
-Graphic Novel, Memoir | Goodreads


Trust Exercise
by Susan Choi
-Literary | Goodreads

GETTING started on the reading list for Camp Tournament of Books self-challenge (here).

For Review:

Shred Girls:
Lindsay's Joyride
by Molly Hurford
illustrated by Violet Lemay
-Sports, Middle Grade | Goodreads
courtesy of publisher -Thanks!

WANTED to check out the girl's perspective of this biker world.

AND watched: in theatre for CAAM 2019 Festival - Center for Asian American Media festival

Magpies of Seoul (2019)
Director: Dan Lee
-Folktale, Korea | trailer | my rating: 5
Q&A with director and band

Dan Lee (from the rock band Scrabbel) premieres a dynamic, new live music performance based on the Korean fairytale, Chilseok. The Magpies of Seoul is about two childhood friends who get separated by the Korean War, Lee’s interpretation of the traditional story. The live performance will feature a mix of indie rock and traditional Korean drumming.

THIS was a live presentation with film footage accompanied by musical performance. The illustrations created were compiled and made into a book as well.

Empty by Design (2019)
Director/Writer: Andrea A. Walter
Stars: Carla Humphries, Chris Pang, Dante Basco, Osric Chau, Rhian Ramos
-Drama, Philippines | imdb | my rating: 5
Q&A with director and actors

In director Andrea A. Walker’s feature debut, two strangers rediscover the Philippines after life abroad, finding both familiarity and detachment on their journeys. Graduate student Samantha returns from London following the tragic loss of her parents, defensive with her sister’s attempts to motivate her and torn on a path forward to a post-grad school life. Stuntman Eric arrives from the U.S. to work on a film, wanting to reconnect to the places he remembered so fondly from his childhood, but frustrated by the cultural disconnect he faces after being away.

As Samantha and Eric encounter loneliness and detachment in a place once familiar to them both, they seek out connection and friendship in one another, searching for someone they can relate to. EMPTY BY DESIGN beautifully unwraps the most simple desires and emotions that we all face when trying to find community. — Brian Ray

BEAUTIFUL dreamy shots of the middle class filipino world.

Follow Me
-shorts | CAAMFest description | my overall rating: 5
Q&A with all but one director

If a tree falls in a forest, but no one Instagrams it, does it matter? Social media has changed our world and the characters in this visionary program are feeling the effects. Whether they’re searching for their online community or struggling with overwhelming FOMO, this collection of films tackles modern technology head on.

Directed by Youthana Yuos
A bored and lonely Indian American woman unwittingly calls upon the powers of a Social Media Influencer who offers her a chance to change.

Directed by Javian Ashton Le
Existing between her parents’ unfamiliar heritage and the norms of Western society, a teenage girl’s refuge in a hotel suite following cosmetic eyelid surgery explores the amorphous nature of first-generation Asian American identity.

Directed by Mike Wierzenski, Mina Park
When a young woman struggling with body image issues posts a photo of herself online, we follow the spectrum of reactions that occur in every corner of the internet.

Directed by Sharon Choi
SELF PORTRAIT is an experimental short of a woman’s journey into her inner well.

Directed by Barna Szász, Ellie Wen
An 18-year-old Instagram influencer attempts to reconcile his identity online with his identity in real life.

Directed by Tina Takemoto
Fleeting cinematic impressions of star-crossed swordsmen are captured in the oblique wanderings of emulsion lifted from a stray reel of a 35mm kung fu action film.

Directed by Searit Huluf
An amateur female gamer is given a once in a lifetime opportunity to try out for a pro league gaming team, only to be repressed by self-doubt.

140 lbs: How Beauty Killed My Mother (2018)
Written, performed and produced by Susan Lieu
Directed by Sara Porkalob.
-live performance | website | my rating: 5
Q&A with performer

Two hours into surgery, Susan’s mother loses oxygen to her brain and the plastic surgeon deliberately does not call 9-1-1 for fourteen minutes. Five days later, while in a coma, she flatlines. The surgeon is charged with medical negligence and her family falls apart; no one talks about what happened. Nineteen years later on her wedding day, Susan’s mother’s seat sits empty and Susan realizes she can no longer ignore what she’s always wanted: to know who her mother was. Sifting through thousands of deposition pages and reaching out to the killer’s family, Susan uncovers the painful truth of her mother, herself, and the impossible ideal of Vietnamese feminine beauty.

Tiger (2018)
Director: Alister Grierson
Writers: Michael Pugliese, Prem Singh
Stars: Mickey Rourke, Janel Parrish, Marshall Manesh
Based on true story
-Drama | imdb | my rating: 5

A practicing Sikh is banned by the boxing commission for refusing to back down from his religious beliefs. Through racial profiling and stereotypical threats, he does what any strong American would do, fight back.

YES! when things turn out right.

Bei Bei (2019)
State v. Shuai (original title)
Directors: Marion Lipschutz, Rose Rosenblatt
-Documentary | imdb | my rating: 5
Q&A with director

Alone in a foreign land, a pregnant woman is abandoned by the man she loves. She tries to kill herself and survives, but her baby dies. Is she a tragic victim or a murderous criminal?

TIMELY especially with issues around abortion swirling around these days.

Widow Witch (2017)
Mirrors and Feathers (original title)
Director/Writer: Chengjie Cai
Stars: Wang Qilin, Tian Tian, Wen Xinyu
-Drama, China | imdb | my rating: 5

After losing her house and husband, a rural woman leads a stranded life with her 10-year-old brother-in-law in a modified "recreational vehicle". To find a warm place to survive the cold winter, she pretends to be a shaman who can rid villagers of evil spirits, and ironically, her juggled deceits often become real. However, she soon loses her power to people's greed and apathy, and in meagre attempts of salvation, her life story eventually ends in tragedy and disillusion.

UGH. Beautiful scenes, but tugs at the heart in so many places.

Chinatown Rising (2019)
Directors: Harry Chuck, Josh Chuck
-Documentary | imdb | my rating: 5
Q&A with directors

A documentary based on Harry Chuck's collection of clippings and period films about the issues that motivated members of San Francisco's Chinese American community to reject submissive stereotypes.

RICH with footage from Chinatown's political past.

Jaddoland (2018)
Director: Nadia Shihab
-Documentary | imdb | my rating: 4
Q&A with director

JADDOLAND explores diasporic longing and the meaning of home across generations. When the filmmaker returns to her hometown in the Texas panhandle to visit her mother, an artist from Iraq, she turns her lens on her mother's increasingly isolated life, as well as the beauty and solace that emerge through her creative process.

INTERESTING peek into an artist's life for both the subject and filmmaker. A wonderful art installation of Lahib Jaddo's work were also on display for CAAMfest.

Moving Mountains
-shorts | CAAMFest description | my overall rating: 5

A selection of shorts from the Himalayas in partnership with the Kathmandu International Mountain Film Festival (KIMFF) and the Bay Area Himalayan Film Festival. These shorts spotlight the burgeoning documentary and narrative film scene in the region and are sure to move viewers in many ways.

Directed by Manish Niraula
A high school girl can’t speak about a traumatic incident she experiences on the bus.

Directed by Prasna Dongol
A young woman battles her inner demons as she solo treks across Dolpo.

Directed by Roshan Thakuri
A woman takes extreme measures in order to save her childless marriage.

Directed by Shenang Gyamjo Tamang
An engaging tale of a little monk whose life takes a dramatic turn – just like in the movies.

Directed by Abinash Bikram Shah
The young widow of a migrant worker wants to start a new life with her husband’s insurance money…

Directed by Bhabasagar Ghimire
A young girl thirsts for knowledge but struggles to be on time at school.

In the Life of Music (2018)
Directors: Caylee So, Sok Visal
Writers: Caylee So, Dane Styler
Stars: Daniel Chea, Socheat Chea, Sreynan Chea
-Drama, Family, History, Cambodia | imdb | my rating: 5

In the Life of Music, a story told in three chapters, tells the story of how one song 'Champa Battambang,' a song made famous by Sinn Sisamuth (the King of Khmer Music), plays a role in the lives of three different generations.

LOVED how a song was made into a character. Again, another beautifully done film.

Geographies of Kinship (2019)
Director: Deann Borshay Liem
-Documentary, Korea | CAAMFest description | my rating: 5

GEOGRAPHIES OF KINSHIP traces the legacy of war and political and economic upheaval in South Korea, particularly on the vulnerable women and children of a traditionally patriarchal society. This powerful and heartbreaking documentary reveals the origins of the international adoption models that sent over 200,000 Korean children to other countries. Those models are still in place today across the world, and filmmaker Deann Borshay Liem brings history to life in the compelling stories of five Korean adoptees.

Coming to grips with their past has led the adoptees to return to South Korea to find their histories and families. We are invited to witness the making of history, as some adoptees find ways to participate in important political reforms that address the treatment of single mothers and could help end the economy of adoption in South Korea.

GEOGRAPHIES OF KINSHIP tells a vast story grounded in the adoptees’ lived experiences, revealing the personal repercussions of transnational adoption, and exploring issues around identity, family, and nationality. — Kat Hughes

FASCINATING piece about the history of adoption and South Korea as well as perspectives from adoptees.


* comment and TELL me what you have acquired for your shelves recently

Thanks for stopping by :-)

Friday, May 24, 2019

The Things She's Seen by Ambelin Kwaymullina and Ezekiel Kwaymullina

The Things She's Seen
by Ambelin Kwaymullina and Ezekiel Kwaymullina

Find out more about this book and author:

Just released: May 14, 2019
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Genre: Mystery, YA, Australia
Hardcover: 208
Rating: 3

Nothing's been the same for Beth Teller since the day she died.

Her dad is drowning in grief. He's also the only one who has been able to see and hear her since the accident. But now she's got a mystery to solve, a mystery that will hopefully remind her detective father that he is still alive, that there is a life after Beth that is still worth living.

Who is Isobel Catching, and why is she able to see Beth, too? What is her connection to the crime Beth's father has been sent to investigate--a gruesome fire at a home for troubled youth that left an unidentifiable body behind? What happened to the people who haven't been seen since the fire?

As Beth and her father unravel the mystery, they find a shocking and heartbreaking story lurking beneath the surface of a small town, and a friendship that lasts beyond one life and into another...

My two-bits:

This story is a tale of a journey through grief that blends mystery and magical realism in the present day.

I appreciated the end notes as it explained the relation to folklore.


* review copy courtesy of publisher

Thursday, May 23, 2019

An Improbable Pairing by Gary Dickson

An Improbable Pairing
by Gary Dickson

Find out more about this book and author:

Published: January 2019
Publisher: Greenleaf Book Group Press
Genre: Historical, Romance, Travel, France, Switzerland
Paperback: 240
Rating: 3

First sentence(s):
How different Scott's life would have been had he been attracted to the young girl, the one more his age, who was standing at the railing of the ship, rather than her companion, the beautiful woman wearing a soft gray suite, her hair blond and straight, a cashmere scarf of a crystalline blue that matched her aquamarine eyes draped casually across her shoulders.

It began as a simple flirtation ...

In September of 1963, Scott Stoddard, an American graduate student, is traveling to Switzerland, when he meets the Countess de Rovere, a French divorcee; he is smitten, and she is intrigued. What begins as a little coquetry soon becomes a serious love affair, much to the consternation of the Countess’s ex-husband and mother, not to mention the Countess’s friends of European high society. A meeting of equals poses problems enough, but what about one between two people who seem to have so many differences? And when a man of traditional attitudes couples with an independent and self-confident woman, something’s got to give. It won’t be the countess. As their liaison transcends an affair that cannot be dismissed, they all agree that something must be done.

An Improbable Pairing is a historical romance that chronicles the enduring themes of a young man’s coming of age and the rebellious love of the mismatched. This pas de deux, set in the golden years of 1960s Paris, Geneva, Gstaad, and Cannes, provides an insider’s peek into the worlds of haute couture, three-star gourmet restaurants, and lavish hotel suites—the domains of rank and privilege. But society’s privileged resist when an interloper threatens to upset their cozy structure.

My two-bits:

This love affair with royalty was interesting to follow as it is portrayed from a young man's point of view.

The tediousness of social obligations and responsibilities makes this romance rocky which made the reading frustrating at times.

I liked the scenes of hobnobbing at the Cannes film festival as that is a place I want to visit in the near future.

Got me thinking of the reality of fairytale royalty romances.


* review copy courtesy of author

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions by Mario Giordano

Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions
by Mario Giordano
translated by John Brownjohn

Find out more about this book and author:

Published: 2018
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Genre: Mystery, Cozy, Italy, Sicily
Hardback: 352
Rating: 5

An Auntie Poldi Adventure series:
Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions
Auntie Poldi and the Vineyards of Etna
Auntie Poldi and the Fruits of the Lord

First sentence(s):
On her sixtieth birthday my Auntie Poldi moved to Sicily, intending to drink herself comfortably to death with a sea view.

Zombie sighting:
My writing spans a wide range and I love to read a board range: from literary fiction to, er, zombie novels.
-Q&A with Mario Giordano, page 332

On her sixtieth birthday, Auntie Poldi retires to Sicily, intending to while away the rest of her days with good wine, a view of the sea, and few visitors. But Sicily isn’t quite the tranquil island she thought it would be, and something always seems to get in the way of her relaxation. When her handsome young handyman goes missing—and is discovered murdered—she can’t help but ask questions...

Soon there’s an investigation, a smoldering police inspector, a romantic entanglement, one false lead after another, a rooftop showdown, and finally, of course, Poldi herself, slightly tousled, but still perfectly poised.

My two-bits:

Loved this cozy mystery set in Sicily. Plenty of arm-chair traveling in and around the protagonist's small town as well as food references to make one go out to seek a restaurant serving a squid ink pasta dish - just for a taste.

The mystery solving includes some romantic interludes to spice things up.


* part of Books, Inc. Foreign Intrigue Book Club (here)

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Our Shared Shelf 2019

Our Shared Shelf
aka Emma Watson Book Club
Details | Goodreads


I want to catchup with this book club too!


The Things I Would Tell You:
British Muslim Women Write
by Sabrina Mahfouz (Editor), Fadia Faqir, Amina Jama, Chimene Suleyman, Aliyah Hasinah Holder, Kamila Shamsie, Imtiaz Dharker, Triska Hamid, Nafeesa Hamid, Ahdaf Soueif, Seema Begum, Leila Aboulela, Shazea Quraishi, Shaista Aziz, Miss L, Aisha Mirza, Hibaq Osman, Azra Tabassum, Selma Dabbagh, Asma Elbadawi, Samira Shackle, Hanan Al-Shaykh
-Feminism, Short Stories, Poetry, Essays | Goodreads | my review: tba


Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars:
A Dangerous Trans Girl’s Confabulous Memoir
by Kai Cheng Thom
-Feminism, LGBTQ | Goodreads | my review: tba


by Min Jin Lee
-Historical, Japan, Korea | Goodreads | my review: tba



Imagination Designs
Images from: Lovelytocu