Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers

I picked up this title unsure if I would like it or not, but it is an engaging read with lots of humor. Vera Wong runs a teahouse in San Francisco and is everyone’s idea of a favorite elder aunt. When a dead body is found in her shop, she wastes no time in searching for the murderer, even though the man supposedly died from a bird allergy. Several characters pop up at her teahouse, who Vera is suspicious of, all of which have a link to the dead man. The plot reminds me a little of Arsenic and Adobo, which features several Philippine aunties who give advice to the main character. I’m enjoying this so far, and curious to find out who really “dunnit”…

New book store

A new book store announced its upcoming opening this summer in Nyack, NY. Independent books stores seem to be having a comeback. Big Red Books is set to open its doors this July adding a personal touch to book buying. Nyack is already home to long-standing Pickwick Books on Broadway. Big Red Books plans to hold readings and workshops as well as serve light refreshments.

Dark Angel

John Sandford has written the second book in his new Letty Davenport series. Letty works for a US senator in D.C. and is a crack shot. She is approached by the NSA and Homeland Security to go undercover to infiltrate a hacker group who has used ransomware to make millions. Her shooting skills will come in handy to defend herself and her partner, Rod Baxter. This is a timely story, as it concerns the war in Ukraine as well. It moves along fluidly, despite the introduction of many other characters and contains has welcome pockets of humor. I intend to go back and read the first title. Highly recommended!

My Last Innocent Year

My Last Innocent Year by Daisy Alpert Florin is set at a liberal arts college in New England in the 1990’s. Isabel Rosen is a senior from New York City enjoying her final semesters at school. She is considering becoming a writer and is pleased to be chosen as a select student at the exclusive writing seminar held by a glorified professor. When a last-minute replacement fills in to lead the course, her disappointment is soon replaced by a college crush on the married R.H. Connelly. Isabel’s senior year include an uncomfortable sexual encounter with an aggressive student which gets out of hand. As an only child whose mother died years ago, Isabel lacks guidance and direction. Her strong-willed friend, Debra, takes matters into her own hands. As the country is debating the morality of the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal, Isabel examines her own decisions in the same light with sympathy for the doomed intern in the White House.

National Library for Children

A child explores the ceramic frieze depicting Ukrainian fairytales by Ukrainian artist Olga Rapay-Markish in the National Library for Children in Kyiv. Photograph: Serhii Korovayny/The Observer

The National Library for Children in Kyiv, Ukraine, is open and functioning as a place of refuge for children traumatized by the ongoing war. Recently, hundreds of books by award winning children’s author Shirley Hughes were donated by her son Ed Vulliamy to the library, which he knew would have made his mother extremely happy. And more of her books will be going to other children’s libraries in Ukraine. Lada Tsybulska is the library psychologist, and her philosophy is “a book is the best doctor for the soul”. The director Alla Gordiienko calls the library “a place for emotional shelter” for moms and their children. What a valuable use for a library…

Library director Alla Gordiienko (in embroidered blouse), Ed Vulliamy and Raechel Isolda, ‘prime mover’ of the books donation project, with children at the library. Photograph: Serhii Korovayny/The Observer