Aug 2019, Fave Media

As some of you know, I’ve been writing an urban fantasy/romance novel since October 2018. I’m 3 chapters away from finishing it, so I’m trying to focus on that these days. Then I can say I’ve finished a novel-length work!

Until then, here’re my faves from August.


Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
ajfdkl;asjfklasjdflasjfdk READ THIS. An enchanting fairy tale that pulled at all my heart strings. What really got me is how Casiopea comes into herself, slowly realizing she wants so much more for herself and her life.

Sapphire Flames (Hidden Legacy #4) by Ilona Andrews
The wife & husband writing team of Ilona Andrews is an insta-read for me. I was ecstatic when my I got to skip the (very long) wait line with the LA public library and read it on vacation! Hilarious, memorable characters, and a determined heroine? Yes please! Also, the IG prettyboy assassin-with-a-heart-of-gold Alessandro can be my future husband.

(Note, while this is technically book 4 in the series, it’s the beginning of a new trilogy. I think it stands alone just fine without having read the previous trilogy, which centers on the heroine’s older sister.)


Our Opinions are Correct by Charlie Jane Anders and Annalee Newitz

After hearing about this from its Hugo win, I’ve been binge listening to it. It’s super fun to listen to, mixing science, speculative fiction, and interviews with experts in their respective fields. Plus they’re based in the Bay. I think this’ll also appeal to folks who like the Brown sister’s How to Survive the End of the World. Transcriptions are available. Patreon here.

Short Stories

A Dead Djinn in Cairo by P. Djèlí Clark

Free short story involving a dapper Egyptian lady who wears English suits because they’re exotic. Plus her lady love interest. Swoon! I am SO READY for the novel-length follow up.

July 2019, Fave Media

Usually I have a good idea what I want my non-media roundup posts to be. This time I’m not sure what idea is ready to be given focus (body image? intimacy? salty poetry?). So, I’ll just let my ideas marinate until one of them is ready.

Until then, here’re my faves from July!


A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine (Teixcalaan #1)

jadl;fjasl;fdja;l s this book is AMAZING. I knew it’d gotten a lot of buzz and good reviews, but honestly the back of the book and the cover made this book unappealing to me. I can’t remember whose review swayed me to take a chance, but hooo girl am I glad I did. It might’ve been a review that mentioned Mahit has a Trill-like memory of her preceding ambassador (who died under mysterious circumstances) … one that is a decade out of date.

POC, queer people, political intrigue! Intricate world-building from architecture to poetry drawing from both the Byzantine and Aztec empire.

Will absolutely be checking out Martine’s future books and cannot wait for the second book in this series.

Tamiko and the Two Janitors by Forthright. (The Amarathine Saga #3)
My love for this series parallels my love of Nalini Singh’s Psy Changeling series. This series is an insta-buy for me, as well as a big comfort read. I’m not sure what genre this series is though. It’s not a romance, if anything the deeply queerplatonic intimacy between chosen family is more emphasized. And I am here for it.


NixHydra’s The Arcana (Asra route)
MicheleCDraws mentioned this game on her IG, and I wound up playing it (for free; the paid content doesn’t effect the ending you get). I really enjoyed woo-ing my NB POC wizard boyfriend. Plot’s intriguing (you have to play multiple routes to get the full picture), and I like that you had to overcome Asra’s character flaw (how much he cares about you) to receive the happy ending.


The Farewell dir. Lulu Wang
Or, more specifically, seeing this in Oakland. There’s something about seeing a film in a packed theater, and with people who laugh when you do. Who get it.


Reliably Bad’s If You Feel (The Way I Do)

Erez Zobary’s Before I Knew You

Masego’s Tiny Desk concert

Ashley Jayy & Tank’s Big Ol’ Freak (Megan Thee Stallion cover)

consent in everyday life: family, culture, & in/sincere yes/nos

When articles about enthusiastic consent began flooding my FB feed years ago, I eagerly waited for someone to address it from a Chinese-American perspective (or any POC cultural perspective really).  Finally, I thought, someone will write something that speaks to my life. 

I knew there was something to be said about saying yes and no when you (didn’t) meant it, the strange rules I’d learned from my mother, and being Chinese-American.  I didn’t want to have to sketch out my messy thoughts.   But I never found an article about consent and race, so I did my best here.

Nora Samaran uses her blog to explore “partly formed ideas,” so I’m reminding myself it’s okay to do the same.  It’s okay to post a piece that doesn’t have a clear point/goal in mind. That said, if you have suggestions for a better title, let me know!

I miss my best friend’s wedding because of social nicety.  She asks me once, twice, three times.  If I was really living the fairy tale life, the third time I would’ve said yes.  Instead I say no, times four and five as well.

I tell my mother about it, and she agrees I did the right thing.

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June 2019, Fave Media


Leena Trivedi-Grenier’s The novice farmer whose search for his roots led to an organic farm in West Marin

“It was also Leach’s participation in a Korean community group that inspired Chang-Fleeman to join the group Chinese Medicine and Magic, which explores the connections of Chinese medicine, plants and nature. In April, before he had planted anything, the group came to the farm for a Qingming celebration, where they honored their ancestors by burning joss paper and incense, offering food and spirits and building an altar.

“My dream is for the farm to evolve into a physical space for Chinese Americans to gather around food and talk about identity,” he says.


Tell Me Who You Are eds. Winona Guo and Priya Vulchi
While not a book I will be re-reading, I do think this is a great entry point for people wanting to learn more about race in America. Extremely approachable, beautiful to look at, and I love its interviewee photos and fun facts. Ijeoma Oluo’s So You Want to Talk About Race makes a great follow-up.

Serpent’s Secret by Sayantani DasGupta (Kiranmala and the Kingdom Beyond #1)
Laugh out loud funny for both kids and adults. The demon women stole the show with amazing one-liners lamenting their sons’ patriarchal tendencies and how ungrateful children give them indigestion. An awesome mix of Indian mythology, magic, and physics.


Raveena’s Stronger music video

Vendulka’s Karma Chameleon cover

Kacey Musgrave’s Tearin Up My Heart cover (via Food 4 Thot)

Halsey’s Sucker cover


Tejal and Jesal’s Yoga is Dead. I’ve been thinking about Yoga Teacher Training, plus I’ve been looking for a yoga resource that was conscious of race and social justice. This podcast is exactly what I’ve been looking for. Even if podcasts aren’t your thing, their curated resources are worth a look. Transcripts also available.

Narratively’s Believable, ep 1 “Proof of a Forgotten Life.” Along with Regina Louise’s original article that inspired it, “I Was Adopted—When I was 41.” Heartbreaking, but also hits all my mother-feels.

hungry (for your touch)

“Oh my love, my darling,
I’ve hungered for your touch,
a long, lonely time.”

–A. North & H. Zyat’s Unchained Melody

Wendy’s presence was larger than life. One of my favorite Aunt’s friends, her laughter filled the room, her smile buoyant. I still haven’t met a woman as charismatic and magnetic before, that I couldn’t help but draw close to. Towards the end of the night, we were on the couch together, and she took my hand in hers. Asked me to massage her hand.

“Isn’t touch so wonderful?” she asked me, watching the rest of the party continue.

I could only blink at her, dazzled, and kept pressing my thumbs into her palm.

I couldn’t have been more than ten. How had she seen the hunger in me so quickly, before I even knew the depth of it?

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May 2019 Media

Inspired by Alex Brown’s monthly reading roundups, here are some of the things I enjoyed this month!


The Lily’s Celeste Ng called Amy Tan. We listened in.
“You cannot succumb to the pressure of how somebody will misunderstand what you have to say.”
My feels!

Sonia Bokhari’s I’m 14, and I quit social media after discovering what was posted about me
“I had just turned 13, and I thought I was just beginning my public online life, when in fact there were hundreds of pictures and stories of me that, would live on the internet forever, whether I wanted it to be or not, and I didn’t have control over it.”
Never thought about this.


Kiese Laymon’s Heavy
I aspire to this level of honesty and compassion. Echoing Roxane Gay, wow, just wow.

Nalini Singh’s Wolf Rain (Psy-Changeling Trinity #3)
Singh’s Psy-Changeling series is one I return to and reread whenever I’m feeling down. So, a new release from her is always a joy. I binged this in one go as always. A reminder that touch can be plentiful, easily given, and that women will always triumph over the violence that would grind them down.

Short Stories

Nibedita Sen’s “Ten Excerpts from an Annotated Bibliography on the Cannibal Women of Ratnabar Island.”
Sen describes it as “an MLA bibliography and it’s about colonialism in academia, monstrous appetites, and oh yes, lesbian cannibals.” Folks who’re familiar with Ethnic/Third World Studies will be especially thrilled.

Zoë Medeiros’ “My Sister is a House.”
Exactly as the title says. I would love to read more in this universe.


Ruby Ibarra & the Balikbayans’ Someday
ajslkdfjl;as I am loving all the tracks Ibarra’s doing with the Balikbayans.

Ari Lennox’s 40 Shades of Choke
As I lay here in singledom, I console myself with tracks like this.

Ari Lennox’s Up Late music video
The visuals are literally the stuff of my dreams

Emeli Sandé’s Extraordinary Being
I just really dig this disco beat and Sandé’s understated vocals here. Also had a rad meditation moment while listening to this.

Silk Road Ensemble’s Atashgah
Talk about an audio poem!


Clit Talk, ep 32 & 41 with Nina Hartley
I recently subscribed to this podcast. Women shooting the breeze and interviewing folks about sexual health. It does skew towards being cis-centric. Hartley’s episodes cracked me up.

Duolingo, ep 29 The Wine Master / El Maestro del vino. (Spanish transcript included)
How Héctor Vergara became the 1st Latin American Master Sommelier. Having worked in the wine industry, I was not expecting this to touch on the overthrow of the Chilean government.

Cameron Glover’s Sex Ed in Color
Sexual ed podcasts are some of the very first podcasts I started listening, but it’s taken me this long to realize I’ve been listening to a lot of white folks. So, discovering Glover’s podcast has been a joy. Also, it has the best opening/closing music. I actually listen to it all the way through. (And I should ask for the artist, so I can buy the track!)

Tonya Mosley/KQED’s Truth Be Told.
A brand new podcast centering on POC. The official blurb says it’s an advice show, which is a bit of a misnomer. The questions are used as a jumping off point for larger discussions. So far they’ve interviewed Locatora Radio (Mala Munoz & Diosa Femme) and adrienne maree brown, and I am so here for this. (I only wish they’d lean more into the tarot cards they talk about in the show notes!)

Tina Horn’s Why are People Into That?! Femme Daddies with Ashley Paige.

Roxane Gay & Tressie McMillan Cottom’s Hear to Slay, ep 3 The Hustle with Gabrielle Union.
This one is unfortunately behind a paywall on Luminary, but the official website says transcripts are forthcoming. Union discusses what hustling as a black woman in Hollywood entails, and the compromises and boundaries we set to navigate work BS.

truth telling

Inspired by one of Witchdoctorpoet‘s prompts in Decolonizing Our Voices. This touches on unhealthy parent-child relationships.

“You cannot succumb to the pressure of how somebody will misunderstand what you have to say.”

Amy Tan in conversation with Celeste Ng

I’m terrified if I tell the truth about my mother and I, it will be a wildfire I cannot control. That the people who read it will say, “Oh, a Chinese-American mother and daughter with issues, of course.” That they will only see a Tiger Mother. That my mother will be publicly crucified. That people will see my name and think, “Oh, Esther, that author. She just keeps writing about her mommy issues.”

The truth is a topic I skate around, eliding, smiling, deferring. If we are close, or you’ve known me long enough to read between the lines, you know my mother and I have history.

I hesitate to name it trauma or abuse, because those words have weight, responsibility, and assumptions.

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