Dear Girls: Intimate Tales, Untold Secrets & Advice for Living Your Best Life – Ali Wong
Comedian Ali Wong brings us Dear Girls: Intimate Tales, Untold Secrets & Advice For Living Your Best Life, a memoir organized as letters to her two daughters. She tells stories about growing up in San Francisco with a Chinese-American father and a Vietnamese mother, studying abroad in Hawaii (yes, I know and so does she) and in Vietnam, moving to New York for her career, meeting her husband, and having her children.
Reading through this, I was struck with the realization that while I know who she is, I’m not super familiar with Wong’s work. I’m pretty sure I saw one of her standup specials on Netflix where she was pregnant with one of her daughters and I know I’ve seen her on TV a time or two, but I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a fan. Maybe that is why this didn’t resonate with me as much as some other memoirs from comedians I’ve read over the years. Don’t get me wrong, it was interesting and she had some good tales to tell, but I just wasn’t as invested in it as I thought I’d be when I bought this. Oh well, you can’t win them all.
A Promised Land – Barack Obama
A child, born in Hawaii to an African father and a white, American woman, grows up to be a community organizer and a law professor in Chicago. Much to his wife’s chagrin, a calling to live up to his mother’s teachings to change the world for the better leads him to become an Illinois state senator, a US senator representing Illinois, and, eventually, the President of the United States.
In A Promised Land, Barack Obama tells his story, focusing on his decision to run for various elected positions, his campaign for president in 2008, and the first two-plus years of his presidency. He details the fight to right the economy following the housing market crash and the resulting failures in the financial sector, the battle to pass the Affordable Care Act. the crushing defeat the Democrats suffered in the mid-term elections, and the hunt for and eventual killing of Osama bin Laden.
Going in to this, I did not realize that the scope would not be Obama’s entire presidency. so 700+ pages to get about a quarter of the way through was a bit of a disappointment, but overall, it was an interesting look into the meat grinder that is the US political system. I imagine part two will be released either this Christmas or next, so I’m sure I will be along for the rest of the ride.
Erle Stanley Gardner – The Case of the Lonely Heiress
When a publisher comes to him to investigate a woman who has placed a questionable ad in his magazine, Perry Mason gets himself involved in a contested will and, ultimately, a murder case. When his new client is charged with the murder of the one witness threatening to scuttle her claims on an inheritance, he needs to figure out who the real killer is without putting his own neck on the line.
Erle Stanley Gardner’s The Case of the Lonely Heiress, originally published in 1948, is the 31st entry in his Perry Mason series and the second of six novels re-released last year in conjunction with the new adaptation on HBO. While this tale wasn’t my favorite of what I’ve read so far, it was adapted for an episode of the Raymond Burr version of the show during its first season, so I’d like to catch that sometime soon and compare the filmed version with the original.
No Tomorrow – Luke Jennings
In No Tomorrow, Luke Jennings continues the cat and mouse game between MI6 agent Eve Polastri and Russian hitwoman Villanelle. As Eve gets closer to unraveling the mystery and exposing the Twelve, she finds that her life is in danger and Villanelle, who has been sent to kill her, is the only one who can save her.
During the pandemic last year, I didn’t keep up with season three of Killing Eve, so it’s been a while since I’ve visited this world. It sounds like the stories diverge quite a bit, so I look forward to catching up soon. I have the third and final entry in the series waiting on the Kindle, so I’m sure I will finish things up sooner rather than later.
Molly’s Game – Molly Bloom
In 2004, Molly Bloom moved from Colorado to Los Angeles with dreams but no plan. Within a year, she was hosting a weekly poker game for her boss at the Viper Room that attracted high rollers and Hollywood stars, including Tobey Maguire, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Ben Affleck. Eventually, she took over total control of the game, moving out of the basement and to high class hotel suites and private homes. She then moved to New York, starting games there with Wall Street tycoons, enticing them with her celebrity contacts. Unfortunately for her, she also attracted the Russian mob. In 2013, she was arrested and charged, along with 33 others, as part of a $100 million money laundering and illegal sports gambling operation tied to the Russians. After losing everything, she turned to writing, producing her memoir Molly’s Game.
I saw the movie adaptation back in 2018 and, earlier this year, picked up the copy on the cheap from the Kindle store. If you trust her as a reliable narrator, she had all the money in the world but, having dedicated her entire life to poker, no friends or family. It was an interesting tale of power, who has it, and how they wield it.
The First Virtue – Michael Jan Friedman and Christie Golden
In the final chapter of the Double Helix series, Michael Jan Friedman and Christie Golden take a trip back in time, to when Captain Picard commanded the Stargazer and the initial events that triggered the revenge plot of the previous five books. A series of terrorist attacks have heightened tensions between two races, bringing an entire sector to the brink of war. While Picard and Governor Gerrid Thul of the Thallonian emperor struggle to keep the peace, Lieutenant Commander Jack Crusher must team up with a Vulcan officer named Tuvok to uncover the hidden architect of the attacks.
I was a little hesitant to read this book, as my interest in the Stargazer is somewhat minimal. Thankfully, outside of Picard and Crusher, there wasn’t much focus on any of her crew. A prologue is an interesting way to wrap up a six book series, but I guess it would have killed some of the suspense to know who was behind the goings on and why. All in all, it was a good trip back to the Star Trek universe and, barring any upcoming Kindle sales, my last for the immediate future.
The Escape Room – Megan Goldin
When a recent graduate gets a job with a major financial institution, she thinks she has it made. Between her salary and bonuses, she’s able to pay off her student loans and her parent’s medical bills. But, when things go south, she finds how quickly things, and her co-workers, will turn on her. Meanwhile, in the future, her former co-workers find themselves summoned to a supposed escape room. Trapped in an elevator with clues that point back towards former co-workers long dead, the quartet finds themselves trapped in an elevator for an entire weekend, with little food and water and a loaded gun.
In The Escape Room, Megan Goldin tells a compelling story about a woman scorned and the lengths she is willing to go to in order to get vengeance on those that have wronged her and others. I think this was a free book that I got as an Amazon Prime member, and it did a great job of creating someone who will be on the lookout for Goldin’s work in the future.
Not My Father’s Son – Alan Cumming
When the producers of the popular UK genealogy show Who Do You Think You Are? approached Alan Cumming in 2010, he agreed, hoping to solve a family mystery involving his maternal grandfather, who disappeared in the Far East following World War II. That kicked off a few months of ups and downs, as Cumming learned not only the truth about how and why his grandfather disappeared from his mother’s life, but also brought an unwelcomed reconnection with his father, whom he had not talked to in 16 years. An insinuation, followed by a DNA test, initially rocked Alan’s world but ended up giving him the answers, and the closure, he was looking for.
The title Not My Father’s Son is both literal and figurative for Alan Cumming, as he’s informed by the man he has known as his father for his entire life that his mother had had an affair and that another man was responsible for his creation. This was devastating, yet welcome, news for Cumming, as his entire life was thrown for a loop but he was glad to learn that the angry, abusive man he had grown up with was not really his father. When a DNA test confirms that his father was lying, Cumming proves to not be his father’s son by overcoming the abuse he suffered as a child and becoming a happy, mostly well adjusted adult. This was an intriguing journey, even if one is not familiar with Cumming’s work on stage and screen.
An Anonymous Girl – Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen
When a struggling makeup artist finds her way into a study on morality, she thinks she’s found an easy way to supplement her income. Instead, she finds herself opening up in ways she never imagined, putting herself in situations meant to test the strength of the study’s leader’s marriage. When she learns the truth, she finds herself in the middle of a marriage that is breaking apart, one which already has a death toll. But who should she trust: the cheating husband that she has already slept with or the wife that brought her in to the “study” in the first place?
An Anonymous Girl, the second collaboration between Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen, is an improvement over their first, in that it doesn’t beat around the bush for the first half of the book to get the story moving. Things move at a good pace from the start, and the tension rises to a satisfying climax. This author team has a third offering out and I’ll be sure to be on the lookout for it at a reasonable price on the Kindle store.
Broken – Karin Slaughter
When Sara Linton returns to Grant County for the first time since leaving following her husband’s death, she stumbles across a murder, a suicide, and a chance to settle some long-standing grudges. GBI agent Will Trent joins her to investigate the crimes, and the local police department that seems to be covering up the whole thing. When a second murder occurs, the coverup falls apart and one local detective puts her career on the line, comes clean, and teams up with Will to find the truth.
Broken, the fourth entry in Karin Slaughter’s Will Trent series and my fifth overall, feels like the wrap up of Slaughter’s Grant County series, which predated this one. Having not read any of those books, I will say that I am now interested to see how there characters got to where they are here. But first, there is the remaining entries in the Trent series to get to, all of which are waiting on my Kindle, except for the tenth which was just published last August.