Friday, May 31, 2019

Gloved Heart by Charlotte Brentwood

Gloved Heart:
A Regency Romance
by Charlotte Brentwood

Find out more about this book and author:

Just released: April 20, 2019
Publisher: self
Genre: Historical, Romance
Paperback: 225
Rating: 5

Hearts of Amberley series:
The Vagabond Vicar
Gloved Heart

First sentence(s):
Screams echoed in every corner of the room, and in her mind.

Can she ever trust again?

Amy Miller is struggling to come to terms with her new life as a mother, while being a reluctant guest in a rigid gentry household. A victim of abuse, she is determined to never trust a man again.

Henry Russell has loved Amy for as long as he can remember, but his family want nothing to do with her. A chance encounter with Amy rekindles a friendship which might save both of them.

The discovery of a secret which holds the key to Amy’s past will change them both forever, and jeopardize any chance they have for happiness. Can Henry show Amy that true love will give her everything she could ever need?

Sensuality level: sweet (only kissing)
Some content may challenge sensitive readers.

My two-bits:

Loved falling into this world with its characters and the setting of country living in England.

I liked how both Amy and Henry's perspectives are presented with their struggles to unite.

Despite the traumas in this story things, move along gently which makes for a cozy clean romance read.


* review copy courtesy of author

Thursday, May 30, 2019

The Ensemble by Aja Gabel

The Ensemble
by Aja Gabel
narrated by Rebecca Lowman

Find out more about this book and author:

Published: 2018
Publisher: Riverhead
Genre: Literary, Contemporary, Music
Hardback: 352
Rating: 5

First sentence(s):
It's a love story, the famous violinist had said, and even thought Jana knew it was not, those were the worlds that knocked around her brain when she began to play on stage.

The addictive debut novel about four young friends navigating the cutthroat world of music and their complex relationships with each other, as ambition, passion, and love intertwine over the course of their lives.

Brit is the second violinist, a beautiful and quiet orphan; the viola is Henry, a prodigy who’s always had it easy; the cellist is Daniel, the oldest, the angry skeptic who sleeps around; and on first violin is Jana, their flinty, resilient leader. Together, they are the Van Ness String Quartet.

In The Ensemble, each character picks up the melody, from the group’s youthful rocky start through to adulthood. As they navigate devastating failures and wild success, heartbreak and marriage, triumph and loss, betrayal and enduring loyalty, they are always tied together—by career, by the intensity of their art, by the secrets they carry together, and by choosing each other over and over again.

Following these four unforgettable characters, Aja Gabel’s debut novel gives a behind-the-scenes look into the highly competitive, mysterious world of high-level musicians. The story of Brit and Henry and Daniel and Jana, The Ensemble is a heart-skipping portrait of ambition, friendship, and the tenderness of youth.

My two-bits:

This story delves into the lifespan of a quartet with its ups and downs. It gets into the rise and then what happens next stories.

The relationships within and outside of the quartet dynamics are explored. And amongst it all, music weaves the individuals together.


* Listened to audiobook version. I liked the brief musical interludes between chapters.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Shred Girls: Lindsay's Joyride by Molly Hurford

Shred Girls:
Lindsay's Joyride
by Molly Hurford
illustrated by Violet Lemay

Find out more about this book and author:
Instagram | YouTube

Release date: May 7, 2019
Publisher: Rodale Kids
Genre: Sports, Bicycle Moto-Cross (BMX), Middle Grade
Hardback: 256
Rating: 5

First sentence(s):
For as long as I can remember, I've lived in a world that's full of superheroes.

An empowering new series from the cyclist who runs is guaranteed to give readers an adrenaline rush--and the confidence girls gain from participating in sports!

It's time to ride and save the day!

Lindsay can't wait to spend her summer break reading comics and watching superhero movies--until she finds out she'll be moving in with her weird older cousin Phoebe instead. And Phoebe has big plans for Lindsay: a BMX class at her bike park with cool-girl Jen and perfectionist Ali.

Lindsay's summer of learning awesome BMX tricks with new friends and a new bike turns out to be more epic than any comic book--and it's all leading up to a jumping competition.

But some of the biker boys don't think girls should be allowed to compete in BMX. Now it's up to Lindsay, Jen, and Ali to win the competition and prove that anyone can be great at BMX.

My two-bits:

I liked this inspiring positive girl power book in a sports setting. The superhero tie-in worked for the growth moment for the protagonist.

With budding friendships and a touch of romance, the element of fun and hard work also prevail.


* review copy courtesy of publisher

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

National Hamburger Day

National Hamburger Day
May 28

Celebrating the day with burger themed mini cookies that I found in Nijiya market in Japan town. So so cute ;-)


The Hamburger:
A History
by Josh Ozersky
-History, Food | Goodreads | my rating: 5

FUN to learn that the original Bob's Big Boy restaurant was in my home town, Glendale, CA. I remember the humongous statue of the big boy with hamburger platter in front of it.

Burgers in San Francisco:

Location: Super Duper Burgers (Metreon)
Description: Mini Burger
4 oz. beef patty, with Super Sauce
fries separate
Rating: 4

Location: The Grove (Yerba Buena)
Description: The Burger
half pound of all natural chuck & brisket house blend, toasted Acme bun, onion, tomato, bib lettuce, pickle
served with potato wedges
Rating: 4

Location: Southern Pacific Brewing
Description: House Burger
beef patty with green leaf lettuce, red onion, tomato & house pickles
served with fries
Rating: 5

SPOTTED: at Target - floating cardboard burger!

Sunday, May 26, 2019

May is Asian Pacific Heritage Month


I attended CAAMfest (Center of Asian and Asian American Media) film screenings (details) and volunteered time at the festival. It was fun to meet people, learn about CAAM and enjoy films (25 out of around 100).

Movie two-bit reviews can be found on these posts: Lovely Books and Things 5/11 (here) and Lovely Books and Things 5/25 (here).

VISIT: San Francisco Japan Town

I went to Uji Time for a tasty treat - soft serve Black Sesame ice cream served in a fish shaped cone.


Somewhere Only We Know
by Maurene Goo
-Romance, YA, Korea | Goodreads

Feeling like a K-Pop romance.


Love Yourself: Her
Love Yourself: Tear
Love Yourself: Answer

Creating a K-Pop mood with this set by BTS.

And, looking forward to getting BTS newly released Persona :-)


* image source: BTS

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.

Gloved Heart:
A Regency Romance
(Hearts of Amberley Book 2)
by Charlotte Brentwood
-Historical, Romance | Goodreads
courtesy of author -Thanks!

ENJOYED the first book in this series and looking forward to more.

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.

IMPRESSED with this touching one-woman show.

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




Monday, May 20, 2019

Happy Release: Courting the Stationmaster’s Daughter by Juli D. Revezzo

Courting the Stationmaster’s Daughter
by Juli D. Revezzo
-Historical, Romance | Goodreads
Release date: April 15, 2019

After Honorine Camden is jilted, leaving her stunned and sparking a scandal in her tiny London borough of Wallflower, she's devastated. But when she overhears her father, the stationmaster, talking about arranging a party for their newly-minted underground railway station, she volunteers to help. Although she's intrigued with the handsome assistant stationmaster, Shane MacIntyre, she never expects to fall head-over-heels in love with him. Unfortunately, one tragic accident might derail everything.

About the author:
Juli D. Revezzo loves fantasy and Celtic mythology and writing stories with all kinds of fantastical elements. She is the author of the historical romances, Courting the Stationmaster's Daughter, Vesta's Clockwork Companions, House of Dark Envy, Watchmaker's Heart, and Lady of the Tarot, the Antique Magic paranormal series and Celtic Stewards Chronicles series and more. She is also a member of the Independent Author Network and the Magic Appreciation Tour.

Find out more about this author and the Magic Appreciation Tour:
Goodreads | Amazon
Website | Blog | Newsletter
Facebook | Pinterest


From Chapter One:

HONORINE CAMDEN WASN’T inclined to public outbursts of exuberance. Her younger sister Isabelle decided she needed to make a change as her mother passed through the door leading out from the platforms of Wallflower Subway Station. “Race you to Father’s office?”

“What did you say, my dear?” Mother asked.

When Isabelle slipped through the entrance, Honorine hiked her skirts up, and sprinted after her.

Restlessness had stirred in Honorine all morning. Her day had gone from fine to worse since breakfast. Her visit to Lady Bascomb’s home to ask assistance with her application to Bedford College—the premier women’s college in nearby London—had only met with failure.

Glad she had left the bustle out of her ensemble, Honorine ran, ignoring her mother’s scolding cry, “Isabelle, Honorine, come back this instant!”

The exasperation in her mother’s voice said Isabelle’s sixteen years was too old for such play. Honorine knew she should agree, yet her edginess welcomed the outlet. Her skirts slowing her down and turning her run into more of a fast stroll, she weaved through the crowded subway terminal, ignoring annoyed responses from everyone she passed. Isabelle had the advantage of thinner underskirts and shorter heels. Honorine was determined to catch up.


Did she hear someone speak her father’s name?

“Look out!”

Watching her feet, and a small radius ahead, a blur of black and a flash of red hair registered at the last second before Honorine slammed into a man’s hard body. Strong hands steadied her and she blinked at her living obstacle.“

Miss Camden, are you hurt?”

The tall man, somewhat portly, but with a handsome face, and a perfectly combed mop of red hair she’d collided with was her father’s second in command. “Oh. Shane. Uh, Mr. MacIntyre.” She glanced to the other men with him, her father and ... the third fellow’s name was Johnson—maybe? Flustered, she recognized him only as a railway man or other. Oh, her father was going to kill her, she was sure! How should she cover her gaffe? “I’m sorry. I didn’t see you.”


Mr. Jefferson had arrived at Wallflower Station at three-thirty and set to inspecting the facility. Shane stood by watching the overseer, trying desperately to hold back his
annoyance at Jefferson’s reaction to the station’s atmosphere, one he’d long since grown used to. Dressed in a fine pearl gray jacket with a matching hat atop his gray hair, Mr. Jefferson cursed as he brushed soot from his sleeve. His thick nose scrunched as he snorted to clear it. “Damnable nuisance!”

Shane sighed to himself. Now you know why we wear black all the time. Mr. Jefferson’s work took place around London’s train and subway yards, he should know better. Even if he spent most of his time in the upper offices, Shane knew it was hard to escape the black soot the trains belched out.

Where the London, Brighton, & South Coast Railways sent this buffoon in from, he hadn’t a clue. If anyone asked his opinion, Shane thought Jefferson looked a bit like a turkey, round at his stomach, with a flap of skin hanging from his chin. He had trouble not breathing open-mouthed, too. He’d probably never done manual labor a day in his life. Shane did, now and again. Everett too, though Everett was called on less these days to hook up train cars, and switch tracks, than in the early days when Wallflower was an even smaller station in their little burg on the quiet outskirts of southern London.

“I apologize, Mr. Jefferson,” Everett said. “There’s little to be done about the soot, at the present time.”

“There’s something you might want to work on.”

Everett dipped his head. “Yes sir. I hear some gents in America are working on equipping the trains to run on electricity.”

The mention of America’s subway system was just the prompt Shane hoped for. “It would be a shame for Her Majesty’s subway system to fall behind. I do believe we can outfit—”

“And how do you propose we do it, Mr. MacIntyre? With what?” Jefferson frowned. “Electricity is too expensive to succeed. Coal is the better power source. Top of the line, wouldn’t you say, Camden?”

Everett conceded his point with a shrug. “You’re right, of course, sir. My assistant has read too much penny fiction.”

Shane bristled at the overseer’s treatment of his mentor. He hated to see Everett so browbeaten. Rather than taking vocal issue, he steered the conversation in another direction. “When you first arrived, sir, you said you’d had another reason for your visit.”

“Ah, yes. Thank you for reminding me. Gentlemen, I’ve an idea in mind. Your personnel have done a fine job getting Wallflower Station up to scratch—and on a speedy schedule into the bargain. With their help, we’ve built the finest station in London. I believe they deserve something to reward their efforts. I think a celebration, of some sort, might be in order.”

Shane listened politely, as he explained, but a celebration? He didn’t agree, “I think they would appreciate a raise more, sir.”

“A raise? You’ve no sense of fun at all, MacIntyre. They need to forget their troubles for a while. Relax.” Jefferson hooked his thumbs into his lapels. “Camden, what do you think of my plan?”

“For a celebration? I must say it’s kind of you, sir, to think of our men...”

As they made their way toward the main doors, Shane had no suggestions to give, sure their employees wouldn’t appreciate Jefferson’s idea. Unless he proposed picking up the tab for a round at the pub. He doubted Jefferson had that in mind. Knowing he’d only cause trouble if he protested, Shane held his silence.

The platform entrance door opened. Three women entered. Everett’s daughters Isabelle, and most importantly, Honorine, ran toward them. Mrs. Camden called them back, clearly perturbed. He wondered why they ran, but Honorine’s laugh told him all he needed to know.

As soon as Shane saw her, he lost all sense of the thread of what her father was saying.

Shane cleared his throat. “Everett?” He nodded toward the women, even as Honorine slammed into him. “Whoa!”

“Oh!” Honorine Camden paused.

“I say!”

The three men parted like a breaking wave. Mr. Jefferson peered at her, and grumbled under his breath.

The young woman who caused all the trouble stared at him, her violet eyes rounded in surprise. “M… Mr. MacIntyre, I’m sorry. I didn’t see you.”

“Honorine, be careful!” Mrs. Camden snapped. “Really, girls. Forgive them, Mr. MacIntyre. My daughters sometimes forget they’re not children anymore.” She glared at her daughters. “And that young ladies don’t run wild!”


* excerpt courtesy of author

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Man Booker International Prize Reading Challenge 2019

Man Booker International Prize
Reading Challenge

official site


The short list was announced on April 9 and it got me wanting to give the batch a go. This self-challenge is also a wonderful way to do some arm-chair traveling.

The winner will be announced on May 21.


W I N N E R: Celestial Bodies by Jokha Alharthi


Books on the short list:

Celestial Bodies
by Jokha Alharthi
Literary, Coming of Age, Oman | Goodreads

Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead
by Olga Tokarczuk
Literary, Mystery, Poland | Goodreads | my review | my rating: 5

The Pine Islands
by Marion Poschmann
Literary, Germany | Goodreads

The Remainder
by Alia Trabucco Zerán
Literary, Chile | Goodreads

The Shape of the Ruins
by Juan Gabriel Vásquez
Literary, Historical, Columbia | Goodreads

The Years
by Annie Ernaux
-Memoir, France | Goodreads | my review: DNF

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