The Broken Circle: a Memoir of Escaping Afghanistan

Enjeela Ahmadi-Miller has written a moving story of her family’s escape from Kabul, Afghanistan in 1979. Russia had invaded the country and murdered the democratic president, Daoud Khan and 17 members of his family, including his baby granddaughter, installing a new communist president in his place. Enjeela’s mother left for India with her two sisters, for a heart operation, and her father hires a guide to lead his four remaining children out of the country as well. Enjeela’s description of her travels is very poignant; much of the trip was spent on foot, and it was a very harrowing journey. The family is eventually re-united, so there is a happy ending to her story.

The Ocean Calls: A Haenyeo Mermaid Story

I came across this book recently and it reminded me of the Lisa See novel The Island of Sea Women, about the female South Korean divers who harvest a variety of sea life to sell for their income. This story is the children’s picture book version, with wonderful illustrations by Jess Snow and informative text by Tina Cho. There is a brief explanation of haenyeo on the back pages, and I found it to be a fascinating subject.

Homicide and Halo-Halo

Mia Manansala begins the novel with an author’s note that she wrote this during a dark time in her life, while dealing with the effects of the pandemic. Her protagonist chef, Lila Macapagal, is struggling with some issues of her own, after her ex was murdered in the previous novel, and she herself escaped a close call with death . Lila is again dealing with a murder in her town, while acting as a judge in the Miss Teen Shady Palms Beauty Pageant. The pageant was developed to give the winner a generous college scholarship, and Lila herself was a previous winner. But when the pageant’s major sponsor turns up dead by a river, and her cousin Bernadette is the main suspect, Lila cranks up her detecting skills to prove Bernie’s innocence.

I enjoyed this novel as much as I did her first one, Arsenic and Adobo. The glossary and pronunciation guide to the Filipino honorifics and words used throughout the novel was a definite plus, as well as the recipes included at the end. After reading the food descriptions, I was dying to try some of the dishes mentioned, so I need to find a good local Filipino restaurant!

An additional bonus is the inclusion of chapters one and two Mia’s next book in the Tita Rosie’s Kitchen series, Blackmail and Bibingka. I’m looking forward to reading it…

A few things about GIFs

So the creator of the GIF, computer scientist Steve Wilhite, passed away last month, according to an article quoted in American Libraries Direct. GIF (pronounced jif) stands for Graphic Interchange Format, and the first version of one was created by a team from CompuServe, headed by Wilhite, in 1987, predating the Web. Explained in an article in October of that year in Online Today, a GIF is flexible enough to overcome any basic hardware compatibility issues, and stores and transmits graphic data in compressed form. It was initially developed to allow color images to load quickly for stock tickers and other interfaces. According to the Daily Dot, an online newsletter, the GIF enabled “lossless, compressed graphics”, in color. Apparently it was quite a breakthrough back then, since black & white image files were not compressed and thus much slower to load. [I just happened to be scanning articles in Direct for one to blog about, this one caught my eye, and I was sucked into trying to understand just what it meant exactly.] Just some tech history tidbits for today…

Give Unto Others

It’s hard to believe that Donna Leon’s latest mystery is #31 in her series about Commissario Guido Brunetti. I think I have read most of them, and this one is just as intriguing. A woman whom Brunetti knew growing up, comes to see him about a personal matter. Brunetti has a few of his associates look into the matter, and before he realizes it, they all become embroiled in a complicated case of tax fraud. For anyone who has been to Venice, it feels like you are back there, with Leon’s descriptive tone and Venetian characters. Her fans will be happy to see this latest offering in libraries…