Posts by Sharlene

Reader. Book blogger. Parent. Eater of foods aplenty. Tea drinker. Crocheter

Library Loot (July 21 to 27)

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Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Sharlene from Real Life Reading that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

Happy Library Loot Day! What did you get from your library this week? Use the linky or let us know in the comments.

I have such a mixed assortment this week.

I was looking for an audiobook since I haven’t listened to one in ages.

The Pluto Files – Neil DeGrasse Tyson

In August 2006, the International Astronomical Union voted Pluto out of planethood. Far from the sun, wonder Pluto has any fans. Yet during the mounting debate over rallied behind the extraterrestrial underdog. Disney created an irresistible pup by the same name, and, as one NASA scientist put it, Pluto was “discovered by an American for America.” Pluto is entrenched in our cultural, patriotic view of the cosmos, and Neil deGrasse Tyson is on a quest to discover why.

Only Tyson can tell this story: he was involved in the first exhibits to demote Pluto, and, consequently, Pluto lovers have freely shared their opinions with him, including endless hate mail from third graders. In his typically witty way, Tyson explores the history of planet recently been judged a dwarf.

Storm Cursed – Patricia Briggs

This is the 11th book in the series, so there’s probably no point putting the synopsis in here. But in case you haven’t read this, it’s a fun series with a coyote shapeshifter who’s a car mechanic. There’s also werewolves, vampires, fae, and more.

Lockdown – Laurie R King

Career Day at Guadalupe Middle School: a day given to innocent hopes and youthful dreams. A day no one in attendance will ever forget.

New York Times bestselling author Laurie R. King is an award-winning master of combining rich atmospheric detail with riveting, keen-edged mystery. Now, in her newest standalone novel of psychological suspense, King turns her sharp eye to a moment torn from the headlines and a school under threat. 
A year ago, Principal Linda McDonald arrived at Guadalupe determined to overturn the school’s reputation for truancy, gang violence, and neglect. One of her initiatives is Career Day–bringing together children, teachers, and community presenters in a celebration of the future. But there are some in attendance who reject McDonald’s bright vision.

A principal with a secret. A husband with a murky past. A cop with too many questions. A kid under pressure to prove himself. A girl struggling to escape a mother’s history. A young basketball player with an affection for guns. 

Even the school janitor has a story he dare not reveal. 

But no one at the gathering anticipates the shocking turn of events that will transform a day of possibilities into an expolsive confrontation. 

Tense, poignant, and brilliantly paced, Laurie R. King’s novel charts compelling characters on a collision course–a chain of interactions that locks together hidden lives, troubling secrets, and the bravest impulses of the human heart.

We Have Always Been Here – Lena Nguyen

Misanthropic psychologist Dr. Grace Park is placed on the Deucalion, a survey ship headed to an icy planet in an unexplored galaxy. Her purpose is to observe the thirteen human crew members aboard the ship—all specialists in their own fields—as they assess the colonization potential of the planet, Eos. But frictions develop as Park befriends the androids of the ship, preferring their company over the baffling complexity of humans, while the rest of the crew treats them with suspicion and even outright hostility.

Shortly after landing, the crew finds themselves trapped on the ship by a radiation storm, with no means of communication or escape until it passes—and that’s when things begin to fall apart. Park’s patients are falling prey to waking nightmares of helpless, tongueless insanity. The androids are behaving strangely. There are no windows aboard the ship. Paranoia is closing in, and soon Park is forced to confront the fact that nothing—neither her crew, nor their mission, nor the mysterious Eos itself—is as it seems. 

It’s Monday (July 19, 2021)

Happy Monday! How’s your week been?

Some things last week:

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My sister ordered some cookies for my birthday last weekend. It arrived on Thursday and were enjoyed by all. There were some fun flavours like birthday cake and a toffee/coffee cookie.
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The kids went to a friend’s birthday party. And had a blast playing video games, eating pizza, hanging out. The parents hung out in the backyard. Instead of a birthday cake, there were birthday mochi doughnuts. This is a Smores one.
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Yelp recommended this new Asian eatery. It’s interestingly a sushi joint on one side, and the other has rice bowls – Korean and Thai. There’s also a Korean deli section full of various banchan. We picked up some kimbap (Korean-style sushi rolls), some rice bowls, and banchan. I had the spicy pork rice bowl.
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The banchan were anchovies and fish cake.

Currently…

Reading:

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Watching: Making The Cut on Amazon Prime. It’s a fashion reality show, the first series was quite fun where they jetted off to different countries. But this season of course that couldn’t happen. So they’re on a big fancy estate in LA.

Listening: Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s The Pluto Files

Eating: For breakfast, pancakes leftover from yesterday’s breakfast.

Drinking: Tea

Cooking:

After seeing this on Smitten Kitchen, I might make some chicken cutlets.

Then I’m intrigued by this recipe for crispy coconut kale. Although this is the first time I’ve heard of coconut aminos…

Last week:

I read: The Only Child – Mi-Ae Seo

The Other Half of Happy – Rebecca Balcárcel

I posted: Library Loot (July 14 to 20)

Book Titles That are Questions#TopTenTuesday

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week. This meme started with J Kaye’s Blog   and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date

Library Loot (July 14 to 20)

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Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Sharlene from Real Life Reading that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

Happy Wednesday!

Claire has the link-up this week.

Here’s what I got this week…

I found out about this book via Reading The End

Miss Meteor – Tehlor Kay Mejia

There hasn’t been a winner of the Miss Meteor beauty pageant who looks like Lita Perez or Chicky Quintanilla in all its history. But that’s not the only reason Lita wants to enter the contest, or why her ex-best friend Chicky wants to help her. The road to becoming Miss Meteor isn’t about being perfect; it’s about sharing who you are with the world—and loving the parts of yourself no one else understands. So to pull off the unlikeliest underdog story in pageant history, Lita and Chicky are going to have to forget the past and imagine a future where girls like them are more than enough—they are everything.

Witty and heartfelt with characters that leap off the page, Miss Meteor is acclaimed authors Anna-Marie McLemore and Tehlor Kay Mejia’s first book together. 

I really liked Choi’s previous book, Emergency Contact. This is her latest.

Yolk by Mary H.K. Choi

Jayne Baek is barely getting by. She shuffles through fashion school, saddled with a deadbeat boyfriend, clout-chasing friends, and a wretched eating disorder that she’s not fully ready to confront. But that’s New York City, right? At least she isn’t in Texas anymore, and is finally living in a city that feels right for her.

On the other hand, her sister June is dazzlingly rich with a high-flying finance job and a massive apartment. Unlike Jayne, June has never struggled a day in her life. Until she’s diagnosed with uterine cancer.

Suddenly, these estranged sisters who have nothing in common are living together. Because sisterly obligations are kind of important when one of you is dying.

Apparently the beer equivalent of a sommelier is a Cicerone

My Beer Year – Lucy Burningham

As a journalist spurred by curiosity and thirst, Lucy Burningham made it her career to write about craft beer, traveling to hop farms, attending rare beer tasting parties, and visiting as many taprooms, breweries, and festivals as possible. With this as her introduction, Lucy decided to take her relationship with beer to the next level: to become a certified beer expert. As Lucy studies and sips her way to becoming a Certified Cicerone, she meets an eclectic cast of characters, including brewers, hop farmers, beer sommeliers, pub owners, and fanatical beer drinkers. Her journey into the world of beer is by turns educational, social, and personal–just as enjoying a good beer should be. 

The kids’ loot:

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Book Titles That are Questions#TopTenTuesday

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is:

Book Titles That are Questions

I’m a bit surprised that there aren’t as many recent book titles that are questions. Or at least I didn’t see that many.

I decided to make a list of some (maybe) more obscure book titles for adults (a lot of kids books have question-titles).

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Miss or Mrs.? – Wilkie Collins

What Will He Do With It? – Edward Bulwer-Lytton

They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? – Horace McCoy

Who Is Simon Warwick? – Patricia Moyes

Is He Dead? – Mark Twain

If Not Now, When? – Primo Levi

And Where Were You, Adam? – Heinrich Böll

Is He Popenjoy? – Anthony Trollope

Am I Getting Paid for This?: A Romance About Work – Betty Rollin


Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018.

It’s Monday (July 12, 2021)

It was my birthday weekend and we went out to a seafood restaurant in San Jose for lunch.

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Soft shell crab sliders
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Sushi
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My favorite thing to eat here – uni pasta. So rich and creamy!
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The kids wanted clams.
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Instead of a birthday cake, I had an assortment of petite cakes from Alexanders Patisserie in Mountain View. From top left: London Fog (Earl Grey chocolate mousse, blackberry centre, on a salted chocolate sable), Tahiti (very vanilla-y with a yummy buttery sable), Empress (chocolate, hazelnut, dulce de leche caramel. Maybe a bit too much caramel for me), Opera (lots of coffee flavour).

All in all, a very lovely birthday!

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Other things last week, I made crispy pork belly for the first time. Used this recipe from Hot Thai Kitchen.

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At the park

Reading:

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Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler (a reread)
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We Can’t Keep Meeting Like This by Rachel Lynn Solomon.

Watching: Howl’s Moving Castle (a rewatch)

Eating: Cake for breakfast!

Drinking: Tea

Cooking:

It’s going to be a slightly cooler week (we had a rather hot weekend). So maybe I’ll make some tomato soup!

Last week:

I posted:
Library Loot (July 7 to 13)

Why I Love Reading #TopTenTuesday

I read:

Giant Days volumes 6 to 10

Happy Endings by Thien-Kim Lam

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week. This meme started with J Kaye’s Blog   and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date

Library Loot (July 7 to 13)

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Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Sharlene from Real Life Reading that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

Happy Library Loot Day!

The kids grabbed so many books this past week! Be sure to have a look at their stash at the end of the post. And if you’re instagram, we’ve started a kids book review Instagram account (@kidsreadthesebooks).

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Another book for the Back to the Classics challenge!

Bed-Knob and Broomstick – Mary Norton

In The Magic Bedknob, Carey, Charles and Paul 6 find prim Miss Price injured by falling off her broomstick. For their silence, she bespells a bedknob to carry them where-ever and when-ever. In Bonfires and Broomsticks two years later, they bring necromancer Emelius Jones to visit. But his neighbors want to burn him at the stake for disappearing in the Great Fire of London.

I’m definitely in a summer reading (ie lighthearted romances) mood. And I’m loving all these diverse romances popping up these days.

Happy Endings – Thien-Kim Lam

Trixie Nguyen is determined to make her sex toy business a success, proving to her traditional Vietnamese parents that she can succeed in a nontraditional career. She’s made a fresh start in Washington DC, and her first pop-up event is going well—until she runs into the ex who dumped her. With a Post-it note.

The last person Andre Walker expected to see in his soul food restaurant was the woman he left behind in New Orleans. Their chemistry is still scorching, but he’s desperately trying to save his family restaurant from gentrifying developers. The solution? Partnering with his ex to turn Mama Hazel’s into a vibrator pop-up shop for hungry and horny clients.

Thanks to their steamy truce, both businesses start to sizzle and their red-hot desire soon reignites deeper feelings. But when Trixie receives an incredible career opportunity, will pride ruin their second chance at happiness?

We Can’t Keep Meeting Like This – Rachel Lynn Solomon

Quinn Berkowitz and Tarek Mansour’s families have been in business together for years: Quinn’s parents are wedding planners, and Tarek’s own a catering company. At the end of last summer, Quinn confessed her crush on him in the form of a rambling email—and then he left for college without a response.

Quinn has been dreading seeing him again almost as much as she dreads another summer playing the harp for her parents’ weddings. When he shows up at the first wedding of the summer, looking cuter than ever after a year apart, they clash immediately. Tarek’s always loved the grand gestures in weddings—the flashier, the better—while Quinn can’t see them as anything but fake. Even as they can’t seem to have one civil conversation, Quinn’s thrown together with Tarek wedding after wedding, from performing a daring cake rescue to filling in for a missing bridesmaid and groomsman.

Quinn can’t deny her feelings for him are still there, especially after she learns the truth about his silence, opens up about her own fears, and begins learning the art of harp-making from an enigmatic teacher.

Maybe love isn’t the enemy after all—and maybe allowing herself to fall is the most honest thing Quinn’s ever done.

The kids’ loot:

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Why I Love Reading #TopTenTuesday

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is:

Reasons Why I Love Reading

  1. It’s a cheap way to travel. And especially in these times where I’m not sure about being on an airplane right now, I get to travel the world in books
  2. It helps me go to sleep. I sometimes watch some Netflix or other streaming stuff before bed but the last thing I do before turning out the light is to read.
  3. It lets me see the world from different perspectives. That’s why I’m glad that we are able to read from more diverse writers in recent years.
  4. An appreciation for the written word. When you read that sentence or paragraph that moves you, that makes you reread it to just appreciate how it’s written!
  5. It stimulates your imagination. This especially applies to speculative fiction and how writers work on world-building. But it begins right from childhood, and how imaginative and creative some picture book writers and illustrators are.
  6. Knowledge. I don’t often read nonfiction, but when I do, there’s so many interesting and new information that just comes pouring though those books.
  7. It’s entertaining. Books can be funny, exciting, scary, thrilling, and all that’s happening is that you’re reading words.
  8. It helps reduce your risk of dementia. Yes, that’s some years away, but it’s always a good reason to read.
  9. Because plenty of times, the book is better than the movie/TV series.
  10. It’s a good workout for the brain!


Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018.

It’s Monday (July 5, 2021)

If you’re in the US and have the day off today, hope you’ve been enjoying the long weekend!

We watched fireworks from around the neighbourhood from our house. Technically fireworks are illegally in my city but the neighbouring cities all sell fireworks so obviously people are still buying them.

And we had a nice backyard bbq and a backyard hangout, reading books, listening to music.

In case you missed it, last week, I posted my “It’s Monday” post on Wednesday, as we’d been away in Mammoth Lakes and Yosemite that week. So check out my post for some photos of this beautiful area!

Some things last week:

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We’d been having nice weather last week! Very nice and cool mornings!
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Matcha and sakura softserve in a taiyaki (fish) cone of sorts
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Taking a walk around the lake

Currently…

Reading:

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Surprisingly, I’m reading a physical book. And it’s a book I actually own instead of a library book as usual!

Watching: Clarkson’s Farm on Amazon Prime. I’ve enjoyed watching Top Gear/The Grand Tour for years, but I wasn’t so sure about watching something with just Jeremy Clarkson and without the other two (Richard Hammond and James May). Clarkson isn’t exactly the easiest person to watch. On the other hand, I’ve happily watched James Mays’ Oh Cook! (yes! He has a cooking show, where he faffs about in the kitchen and surprises himself by being able to cook some things) and Our Man in Japan.

Clarkson’s Farm is really a show about farming. Clarkson had bought a farm in Oxfordshire in 2008 and then decided to farm it himself. He of course buys himself a Lamborghini tractor (no joke), starts plowing and sowing and all that, and also has chickens and sheep. He does have the help of a shepherd, land agent, and a farm worker, also the help of random other people like a veteran sheep farmer and someone who seems to build stone walls?

It’s really entertaining. But also, a sobering look at how hard it is for farmers. Too much rain. Not enough rain. Then the pandemic hits them in episode 5 and the value of the sheep drops drastically.

Listening: No books, just music.

Eating: Homemade walnut bread for breakfast

Drinking: Tea

Cooking:

We still have some bbq leftovers for today, so I don’t need to make dinner. Hooray! I’ll figure out the rest of the week another time….

Last week:

I read: Wicked and the Wallflower (Bareknuckle Bastards #1) – Sarah Maclean

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue – Mackenzi Lee

The Princess Trap – Talia Hibbert

I posted: It’s um Wednesday? (June 30, 2021)

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week. This meme started with J Kaye’s Blog   and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date

It’s um Wednesday? (June 30, 2021)

I skipped Monday’s post because we were on a road trip to Mammoth Lakes. Mammoth Lakes is a mountain town best known for being a ski destination, but it’s a great place to go in summer as well. It’s located in the Sierra Nevada mountain range, and is closer to LA than the Bay Area. Bay Area people tend to go to Tahoe for ski/mountain stuff.

But wow, does Mammoth have some amazing views!

We first drove through Yosemite, out via Tioga Pass, stopping at Tenaya Lake for a quick lunch.

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Also stopped at the Tuolumne Meadows.

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This is the alkaline Mono Lake.

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A rare selfie at Tenaya Lake.

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Even the restaurants have great views! This is Mammoth Brewing Company. They make great beer and food. And more importantly, a really large outdoor eating area. We are not ready to eat indoors yet.
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This is chicken confit with corn and jalapeño griddle cakes. So good! I also had a gooseberry sour, a seasonal beer that was really fruity and refreshing.
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One of the many lakes that we visited in the Mammoth Lakes area. This is Twin Lakes.
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Horseshoe Lake. Interestingly, the soil around the lake has a lot of carbon dioxide, and has resulted in the deaths of quite a few trees in the area. We went on a breezy day and didn’t notice anything weird about the air there.
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The breathtaking views as we hiked around Convict Lake (a 3 mile loop). It’s named for the escaped convicts who found refuge here in 1871.
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Probably the most well-known landmark is the Devil’s Postpile National Monument. It formed less than 100,000 years ago when a cooling lava flow cracked into multi-sided columns. We also hiked 5 miles (roundtrip) to the very pretty Rainbow Falls in the same park. It was hot and dusty but we got there and back.
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Of course you can’t drive through Yosemite (which is the quickest route from Mammoth back to the Bay Area) without a photo of Tunnel View. There’s El Capitan on the left hand side, and that little point sticking out at the back is Half Dome.

Some things last week:

Currently…

Reading:

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Watching: Hospital Playlist (new episode each week!) also Prison Playbook, which is by the same director

Listening: No books, just music.

Eating: Homemade scone for breakfast. Before the road trip, I did quite a bit of baking, so that we could bring some scones along for breakfast.

Drinking: Tea

Cooking:

We mostly had American food during our road trip, so I’ve been cooking Asian food.

Mushroom soondubu jigae. This has become like a comfort food for me.

Probably some noodles.

Last week:

I read:

A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow – Laura Taylor Namey

I posted:

Library Loot (June 30 to July 6)

Quicksand by Jun’ichirō Tanizaki

Operatic by Kyo Maclear and Byron Eggenschwiler

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week. This meme started with J Kaye’s Blog   and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date

Library Loot (June 30 to July 6)

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Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Sharlene from Real Life Reading that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

Happy Library Loot Day!

Claire has the link-up this week.

Here’s what I got from the library this week….

Borrowed this one for the Reading Women challenge – a crime novel/thriller in translation

The Only Child – Mi-ae Seo

Criminal psychologist Seonkyeong receives an unexpected call one day. Yi Byeongdo, a serial killer whose gruesome murders shook the world, wants to be interviewed. Yi Byeongdo, who has refused to speak to anyone until now, asks specifically for her. Seonkyeong agrees out of curiosity. 

That same day Hayeong, her husband’s eleven-year-old daughter from a previous marriage, shows up at their door after her grandparents, with whom she lived after her mother passed away, die in a sudden fire. Seonkyeong wants her to feel at home, but is gradually unnerved as the young girl says very little and acts strangely. 

At work and at home, Seonkyeong starts to unravel the pasts of the two new arrivals in her life and begins to see startling similarities. Hayeong looks at her the same way Yi Byeongdo does when he recounts the abuse he experienced as a child; Hayeong’s serene expression masks a temper that she can’t control. Plus, the story she tells about her grandparents’ death, and her mother’s before that, deeply troubles Seonkyeong. So much so that Yi Byeongdo picks up on it and starts giving her advice. 

Written with exquisite precision and persistent creepiness, The Only Child is psychological suspense at its very best.

A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow by Laura Taylor Namey

For Lila Reyes, a summer in England was never part of the plan. The plan was 1) take over her abuela’s role as head baker at their panadería, 2) move in with her best friend after graduation, and 3) live happily ever after with her boyfriend. But then the Trifecta happened, and everything—including Lila herself—fell apart.

Worried about Lila’s mental health, her parents make a new plan for her: Spend three months with family friends in Winchester, England, to relax and reset. But with the lack of sun, a grumpy inn cook, and a small town lacking Miami flavor (both in food and otherwise), what would be a dream trip for some feels more like a nightmare to Lila…until she meets Orion Maxwell.

A teashop clerk with troubles of his own, Orion is determined to help Lila out of her funk, and appoints himself as her personal tour guide. From Winchester’s drama-filled music scene to the sweeping English countryside, it isn’t long before Lila is not only charmed by Orion, but England itself. Soon a new future is beginning to form in Lila’s mind—one that would mean leaving everything she ever planned behind.