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276: Jesse Q. Sutanto's VERA WONG'S UNSOLICITED ADVICE FOR MURDERERS - June 2024 Book Club


Vera Wong's Unsolicited Advice for Murderers Book Club Episode Graphic

Are you looking for a cozy mystery with a lot of spilled tea? Be sure to join us as we read and discuss Jesse Q. Sutanto’s Vera Wong's Unsolicited Advice for Murderers (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm) as our June 2024 book club pick! This cozy mystery is a perfect summer read that will warm your heart despite the dead body at its center.


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Bookish Check-in

Ashley - Elizabeth Gilbert’s City of Girls (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm)

Jen - Alyssa Cole’s One of Us Knows (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm)


Book Club Pick

Jesse Q. Sutanto’s Vera Wong's Unsolicited Advice for Murderers (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm)


Our Pairings

Mike Gayle’s All the Lonely People (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm)

Muriel Barbery’s The Elegance of the Hedgehog (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm)


Mentioned in Episode

Jesse Q. Sutanto’s Dial A for Aunties (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm)


Give Me One - Flashback: June 2021

Listen in to hear our reflections on June 2021!


(A note to our readers: click on the hashtags above to see our other blog posts with the same hashtag.)


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Full Transcript of Episode


[00:00:34] Ashley: Hi, and welcome to Unabridged episode 276. Today we are discussing Jesse Q. Sutanto's Vera Wong's Unsolicited Advice for Murderers, which is our June 2024 book club. Before we get into that today, I wanted to remind you that we are continuing our Patreon drive. We release bonus content on there and we appreciate the support on there so much.


[00:00:56] If you have not checked out what we have on there, there's a lot of content available when you join, and you can find out more information at Patreon. com slash unabridged pod, or you can click on the link in our show notes, and we do appreciate that a lot. Helps keep our podcasts running.


[00:01:12] Additionally, we wanted to remind you that we are taking a break for summer. So we will, this is our last episode for a little while. We're going to take a couple months off. We're both doing some traveling and we also like to have a chance to regroup and plan for our next season. So that's what we do in the summer.


[00:01:28] And we'll be back in September with our new season. Before we get into Vera Wong, which I'm so excited to discuss with Jen,we wanted to share our book as check in. Jen, what are you reading?


[00:01:39] Jen: I am reading Alyssa Cole's One of Us Knows, and Cole is one of those auto read authors for me. I love her romance books, and then recently she has gotten into writing thrillers as well. So she wrote a great thriller called When No One Is Watching that had this amazing social justice theme under its kind of circuitous plot.


[00:02:03] In this one, I was not sure what to expect, but it is fascinating. So it focuses on Kenetria Nash, who goes by Ken. And Ken is someone who has dissociative identity disorder. So though she is the protagonist, there are other protagonists as well who are her alters.


[00:02:23] And She comes to waiting on a doc, has no idea what her situation is. She's dressed differently than she's usually dressed. And eventually it comes out that she has been. sort of inactive for six years and the other identities have had control of this body that is hers. And so she's trying to figure out what's happened over the past six years.


[00:02:51] What am I doing here? And she finds that she has accepted a job as a caretaker of this castle, basically. It's called the Cavanaugh castle. And it's set on Hudson River Island. So it's in this really isolated spot. As she's traveling on the boat toward the Island, she's sort of pumping the, boat captain for information.


[00:03:17] And he's telling her that the castle was built based on the sketch of the wife of the husband who built it. So he built this castle in tribute of his wife based on this drawing. So the castle's a little off in places. And as they approach the castle, she realizes that it is identical to the castle that houses all of her identities, like the inner space, even though she's never seen as far as she can remember the castle before.


[00:03:45] And she doesn't really remember what happened in her early childhood that caused her to create these other identities. So that's also this element of mystery that's out there. She'll start to remember something and then sort of suppress it again or one of her identities will suppress it again. The other identity that we've heard the most from is Solomon and Solomon is the voice of reason.


[00:04:12] Ken is very impetuous and reacts to threat with violence and by acting out. Solomon is very calm and reasonable and sort of measured in the ways that he wants to act. There was, and this is something we haven't really seen in the book so far, but there's some sort of romantic connection between Ken and Solomon, even though they obviously cannot meet in the outside world.


[00:04:39] And then there's another character or another identity named Della who was primarily in control during the six years when Ken was inactive and Della has disappeared from the inner world. So normally, other characters are sort of there waiting in the wings and they can come forward and none of her identities knows where Della is.


[00:05:02] So there are all these different mysteries inside, outside of Ken's consciousness, and yeah, so far it is incredibly compelling and I have no idea where it's going to go, but I'm definitely intrigued. So that is Alyssa Cole's One of Us Knows.


[00:05:19] Ashley: Wow. That is a complex series of things going on. So interesting. Yes, I was intrigued by it. I saw that you posted that, Jen, and I saw the cover, and I think I've only read her other thriller, and that might not be true. I might have read at least, I'll have to look and see. I might have read at least one of her romances.


[00:05:38] But yeah, I want to get into her backlist. This summer would be a great time to read a lot of her work, but that does sound really compelling.


[00:05:44] Jen: Yeah, her romances are great because she's written historical romance. She's written sci fi romance. She has written, she has this series that is set in a made up country, but it's fun. all focused on black people and they are the royals in that society. And yeah, so she has, Alyssa Cole is black and she has a lot of interesting commentary about race.


[00:06:08] And yeah, she writes all the things. She's really talented. So, all right, Ashley, what are you reading?


[00:06:15] Ashley: So one of the things I'm reading is Elizabeth Gilbert's City of Girls. And this one's just been on my Kindle a long time, and I don't actually know what prompted me to read it. And I had no idea what it was about. So I think I had in my mind, like, I don't know. I, the genre in my mind was very different than what it actually is.


[00:06:35] But anyway, this one is a historical fiction book that is set in 1940 and the main character is Vivian. She has been, at the opening scene, she's kind of getting shipped off to her aunt in New York City because she's been kicked out of Vassar College. Her aunt. Kind of crusty, uptight family is scandalized by her lack of outstanding performance for what they are expecting for her life.


[00:07:07] And they're kind of wanting her to be a sort of cookie cutter model of what they think she should be. And she has not performed in the way they wanted her to. And so because of that, in the beginning, she's getting sent to New York City. Her Aunt Peg owns a small playhouse, a theater, and she has been keeping it going for a long time, but the shows are very inexpensive.


[00:07:35] They have a lot of showgirls. The showgirls do a lot of performing that involves some, pretty silly things that keep people coming back all the time. Of course, as you might imagine, for Vivian, the entire situation in New York City is profoundly different than her own experience, and so we just see a coming of age story of someone who is suddenly thrown into a very different world, and her eyes are suddenly wide open, and she meets these women who are living freely and openly, but also very differently than, than what she is used to.


[00:08:17] And everything's moving at a really fast pace. And so she gets involved in, you know, going out and partying and all these things that she has never done before. And then along comes. someone who is, because of the war, has come over from England, Edna, and she is a phenomenal actor. And so, when she comes, they're all of a sudden thinking, oh my goodness, this is our chance to do something.


[00:08:46] We need to do something that matters. We need to showcase Edna and her talent. She's probably in her 50s. She is in the older end of her acting career, and yet this is an opportunity to showcase how phenomenally talented she is. Because of that, Vivian's Aunt Peg starts pulling strings and trying to think about how they can create this new show.


[00:09:08] The new show ropes in some other characters who are very important, but they start to create something designed for Edna and to showcase her as the central character. And that show is City of Girls. And I am absolutely loving this. I also have read... I'm not finished, but I've read a really heartbreaking part.


[00:09:31] So Vivian makes some really young choices that are impulsive, but also have really lasting consequences. And the whole story is set, I should say also that this is a story in a story. So she is writing a letter to a character, Angela, and she is a very old woman. And she is telling the story of kind of how she got to where she is.


[00:10:01] And so I'm interested to see how it comes together and what happens with Vivian, because certainly a lot has happened so far, but I just love the characters. Everything is really richly drawn. I love the way that it shows theater as such a vivid and important part of our society and of our cultural existence.


[00:10:23] And so like, I think all that's really cool, too. And I think we really empathize with Vivian, who is a character who is learning her way in the world. And so again, that is Elizabeth Gilbert's City of Girls. And I'm, I'm loving it so far.


[00:10:38] Jen: Yeah, that was a five star read for me. I loved that book. And Elizabeth Gilbert is so interesting because she writes a lot of non fiction and it was quite, for me, based on what I'd read of hers before, it was a real departure, but I thought it was just fantastic.


[00:10:52] Ashley: Yes, I actually did not realize at first, like it didn't even dawn on me because I read Eat, Pray, Love, which is also her work, a long time ago, and I didn't even connect the dots at first. Because I wasn't even, it just doesn't, like you said, Jen, it is a real departure, and so even though I knew her name, I had not like, put those pieces together, and then I came across something where it said it. Maybe was on the cover, or you know, whatever, I, somewhere after I had already started reading, I realized that it was also that, that was, she was that author as well, and I was really surprised, actually, so yes, I think that's true, but I will read more of hers, I mean, I think this one has been fantastic,


[00:11:31] Before we get... Well, first of all, I want to say that I absolutely love Jessie Q. Sutanto. She is one of my most favorite authors, and I had read this before and wanted to visit it with Jen. We thought it would be a great read for summer.


[00:11:46] It is a really fun read, but before we get into our discussion today, I wanted to share the synopsis. This is the publisher's synopsis. "Put the kettle on. There's a mystery brewing tea shop owner, matchmaker Detective.


[00:12:02] 60 year old self-proclaimed tea expert Vera Wong enjoys nothing more than sipping a good cup of oolong and doing some healthy detective work on the internet, aka checking up on her son to see if he's dating anybody yet.


[00:12:15] But when Vera wakes up one morning to find a dead man in the middle of her tea shop, it's going to take more than a strong long gene to fix things. Knowing she'll do a better job than the police possibly could, because nobody sniffs out a wrongdoing quite like a suspicious Chinese mother with time on her hands, Vera decides it's down to her to catch the killer.


[00:12:35] Nobody spills the tea like this amateur sleuth." So we're going to start with our overall impressions. Jen, what was your overall impression?


[00:12:44] Jen: I really love this. This is the second book I've read by Sutanto and it has convinced me that I need to go back and read all the rest because I... It's just so joyful and yet it deals with serious issues. I think. The way that it deals with Vera and her aging. Yeah. The way that she's aging and the fact that she doesn't have a strong community that so much of her life has been centered on her son and that he's now pretty distant from her.


[00:13:14] And I thought that was all handled really well. I just. Yeah, it's so much fun. I listened to the audio, and I thought that was phenomenal. And I actually listened to audio for both books of Sutanto's that I've read and they work really well. So I should read one in print just to see, but I feel sure it'll hold up.


[00:13:31] So yeah, it was great, great fun. Like you said, I think it's a great summer read. I love the cozy mystery. And knowing that there is a murder at the center, but also that it's not quite as ghastly as other murder mysteries are. And yeah, I loved it. What about you, Ashley? What are your overall impressions on your second read?


[00:13:51] Ashley: I was going to say... I've already kind of shown my hand because obviously I felt like it was worth a reread but I loved this one. I had done the first two in the Dial A for Aunties series before, and I loved both of those a ton. I mean, I like, I haven't read all of Svetlana's work. She's actually very prolific.


[00:14:09] But I am interested to read more of hers because I think that every time she really does a great job of balancing humor with substance, and I think we really see that here. Also, like, there are a lot of just, I mean, laugh out loud scenes that happen, but also there's a lot of heart at the center, and there's a lot of hurt that each character is experiencing.


[00:14:32] And so we really see that play out. So yeah, overall I thought it was fantastic. I did read it in print the first time. I listened on audio this time. Eunice Wong is the narrator and she won an Audi Award for it. So, I felt like definitely this one was recognized as a strong audio book option.


[00:14:52] But yeah, overall, I absolutely love it. I think that this is probably my favorite of her work that I've read so far. So, let's talk a little bit about what worked for us specifically. Jen, what is something that worked for you?


[00:15:05] Jen: Well, I hinted at this a little already, but I think the ways that Sutanto explores, so there's this found family at the center that's drawn together because Vera suspects each of the people of potentially being the murderer. But what you find is that each of them is isolated for some reason, and the reasons are varied.


[00:15:26] So Julia, who was married to the murder victim, Marshall, Isolated because Marshall made it that way. Basically he, he had a vested interest in isolating her. there's a character Oliver, he was Marshall's twin brother. Yeah. You just see the ways that each has felt like an outsider. So with Oliver, Marshall was always the hero to his father.


[00:15:57] Even though Oliver did a lot of kind things and was actually in love with Julia, which is an interesting twist. He, because of the way that he lived his life and his refusal to sort of point out everything that Marshall was doing wrong, it has been isolated from his family and yeah, so you just see this hunger to belong to someone and to have people to count on.


[00:16:21] And I think the way that develops because of, yeah, the factors in each individual's life that have made them that way. For Viera, it's certainly her age. It's really beautiful, and I love found families. I think they're so heartwarming, and it's just great to see people who are connected by kindness and by caring for one another.


[00:16:41] So again, even though it starts because she's trying to catch the murderer, I really love that element of it. Yeah. Ashley, what worked for you? Yeah,


[00:16:50] Ashley: I agree about found family, and that resonated in both readings. I think that another thing that worked really well for me is Vera as the central character. And I think what I appreciated so much... I have read a few books recently that have highlighted an older character


[00:17:12] who is nuanced and complex and who is a three dimensional character and it has made me realize that that's not common. I haven't read that many books that really do that. And so I think that I love the focus on her, and she does some, I mean, shocking and horrific things. There are things that are just like, you know, you kind of gasp that she did it.


[00:17:39] Starting with tracing the outline of the body. You know, I think right from the start we see someone who is driven and ambitious and feels like you got to kind of go at it with life and yet her husband's passed away, who she adored. Her son, like Jen said, has grown and really doesn't need her to be


[00:18:06] taking care of him in the way that she is accustomed to doing, and we see the tea house that has really been run down but that she can't quite let go of And so we just see all the ways that her character traits, while seemingly desirable, kind of have nowhere to go like, you know, her ambition just has no direction. Her desire to care for others has no one to direct it toward, and so I think that while there are a lot of parts that are really hilarious, it also gets at this idea of what our different phases of life look like and how hard and lonely it can be to enter into a, a later part of our lives, which I mean, she's 60. A lot of times I feel like in the book she seems so much older. They kind of present it that way that she is, you know, like I would think of her as more like 80. But in this, you know, she's only 60, but she has hit this stage of life where she doesn't know what's next.


[00:19:10] And she keeps getting up at 4:30 in the morning and judging everyone who doesn't. And yet there's nothing for her to rush to do, really. And so then, when the body shows up in her tea house, suddenly, she has a purpose. And it is a purpose that she has been missing. And so, you know, we really see her... what happens when she feels like she has a purpose again.


[00:19:32] And so I love all of that. I think it's just really beautiful, and shows how people are a lot of things, and that life is impermanent. And that that impermanence can be daunting but also it can be really freeing like in the sense that this thing happens that precipitates all these changes for Vera and so like that kind of reminder that, like Jen said, with community and with found family,


[00:19:57] our life can really change in really meaningful ways. That is something specific for me was that her character is just so richly drawn and centered in a way that we all... The characters all come to really love her. We really love her. And she brings so much joy to so many people. So.


[00:20:15] Jen: I think she's an amazing character. I want to just point out the humor because I feel like that... If you're listening and you haven't read through the end of the book, of course we give spoilers, but I think the humor of the writing is so fantastic, and it's found in his moments like her drawing around the dead body with a Sharpie, which is... but it also comes from this conviction that she knows the right thing to do.


[00:20:37] And sometimes that is very much not the right thing to do. And she makes really wrong decisions, but sometimes she's right. And so you, yeah, I'll give some of this away because it's in my quote, but I just think that element is so funny and just the... the mix ups and the moments of confusion. And yet there's this underlying note of seriousness in the book and of considering what it means if you feel like the purpose for your life is not there anymore, and trying to find it.


[00:21:07] And that can happen at any age, but of course for Vera and for another character, Alex, you see that really come to the forefront of the book. So yeah.


[00:21:18] Ashley: Absolutely. Yeah, so we are going to share a quote that works. Jen, what is your quote?


[00:21:25] Jen: Oh, there's so many good ones. Okay. So I think I'm going to go with...


[00:21:28] This is Vera talking to Riki. "Maybe you do something slightly bad. So what? Now you learn from it. You have a better judgment now, better morals, because you learn from your personal mistake.


[00:21:38] This is what life is about, Riki. No one is perfect making right decisions all the time. Only those who are so privileged can make right decision all the time. The rest of us, we have to struggle, keep afloat. Sometimes we do things we are not proud of. But now you know where your lines are." And I think that so epitomizes Vera's character, which is very exacting and very... She has very high standards for herself and for other people.


[00:22:03] And yet she's also very forgiving, and it highlights the way every character in this book has made mistakes, of course. And yet they find forgiveness in Vera and in their found family because they're all willing to focus on the sides of the, the other people that are good and to focus on those good moments as well.


[00:22:25] So I really... I love that about Vera and about the sentiment of the book as a whole that, yeah, you know, it's that whole thing. You're not your worst moment. You can focus on the best moments instead. And it's not that that makes the worst moments go away. It's that you can find grace and forgiveness for other people, and hopefully for yourself as well.


[00:22:43] Cause I think sometimes we see that being the hardest place is people not being able to forgive themselves.


[00:22:49] Ashley: Yeah, and I think the secrets at the center of this one really illuminate that message also because each of them is carrying both their own heavy secret and also a fair dose of suspicion of the other characters because exactly like Jen was saying, you know, she brings them all together because they're all suspects and like how hilarious that they are all Getting to know each other and really care for each other, but at the same time they're all like, did you do it?


[00:23:20] I mean, maybe. Maybe, you know. And we know that each of them did something that they're trying to hide. And so it's like the unpacking of all of that, and I think it is exactly that. It's this recognition that, you are not defined by that thing, and that no matter how bad that thing is, it is not all that you are.


[00:23:39] And so yeah, I think we see that with Riki and then we see that kind of unveil with each character as Vera kind of helps them open up. I mean a lot of it is about like helping the other characters open up and become more trusting and accepting of themselves and each other.


[00:23:55] Jen: Yeah. What's your quote, Ashley?


[00:23:57] Ashley: I'm going to go with this one, which is just... encapsulates the humor of the book, but Vera's thinking about how exciting this all is, and the quote is, "People always say that your wedding day is the happiest day of your life, but honestly, people should try solving murders more often."


[00:24:16] Jen: That's perfect.


[00:24:17] Ashley: And I just feel like that kind of sums up the humor of the book, because again, there's just this element of purpose, and meaning, and... it's all really funny, but it's also this like, serious message of we do have to have purpose in our life, and if we don't have it, that can be really challenging, so for Vera, this was like a wake up call where she suddenly is like, Oh, I have something important to do, so... We always choose a pairing, so This is just a book that if you enjoyed, So, um, if you're reading Vera Wong, then this would be another book you might enjoy.


[00:24:53] Jen, what is your choice?


[00:24:57] Jen: I have to say I had a hard time with this because I think this book is pretty singular, but I wanted to focus on. that centrality of an aging character and on the found family idea. So I'm recommending your Muriel Barbery's The Elegance of the Hedgehog. The tone in this one is different. So it is, it is funny, but I would say it's more whimsical.


[00:25:22] It's not so much laugh out loud. This is a French novel. You would be reading it in translation probably by Alison Anderson. And it is centered in this apartment building run by a woman named Renée. So she is the concierge, and it is incredibly luxurious. And so the people in the apartment building are quite, quite wealthy, and Renée is not definitively, and she's older.


[00:25:51] And so some of the people in the apartment building really look down upon her and don't give her credit for being... She's really brilliant, for being the really smart woman that she is. The of course she's worthy and the fact that she's poor should not make a difference, but. Some people treat her that way and then the other main character, it alternates between the two, is Paloma, and she's a 12 year old resident in the building who has a really hard time with her family. And at the very beginning of the story, she has decided that she's going to commit suicide and burn down the building. And you see, as the book continues, the way that Paloma and Renée find each other and become a real comfort for the other, and they start to draw in some other characters as well.


[00:26:39] And so again, it's quite... It feels different, but I love that central idea that you can be an outsider, but once you find your people, you're not, even if the people who are your family, or the friends, don't live up to your expectations for them. There are other people out there who can be your found family.


[00:26:56] So it's been a little while since I read it, so some of the details are fuzzy, but I feel like I left with that same feeling of comfort, even though it, as well, as dealing with some very serious topics, it's compared in the synopsis to A Man Called Ove. And so I think, you know, that's another one that you get that same sense of whimsy, um, of older characters, of found family.


[00:27:20] So there's a, there's a bonus pairing for you. Most people know that one, but yeah. So I would highly recommend Muriel Barbery's The Elegance of the Hedgehog.


[00:27:31] Ashley: Nice. Yeah. I kind of remember you sharing about that maybe as a bookish check in or something before, but I have not read it yet. I'll have to circle back. I do love the found family vibe.


[00:27:41] Jen: Yeah. What's your pairing, Ashley?


[00:27:43] Ashley: I wanted to recommend... this is another one I absolutely loved. This is Mike Gale's All the Lonely People. This one is not a mystery, but Hubert Byrd is the main character, and he is similarly an older character who has become a very isolated.


[00:28:05] So he is originally from Jamaica, but he immigrated long ago to England, and he'd been there for a long time, but as he gets older... and he's there...we learn this whole story about, we see him as a younger man when he comes, we see him make his friends, we get the backstory on how he meets his wife, they marry and have a lovely life together, but then she becomes ill.


[00:28:31] And as she becomes ill, he becomes more and more... And they do have children together, but then as She becomes ill, he becomes more and more isolated, so we kind of have this community, but then, he starts to care for her, and the more that he's taking care of her, the harder it is to, like, uphold these other parts of his life.


[00:28:51] And so that has happened in the past and we're getting this back story, but then we also have the present day, and the premise at the beginning is that he has this weekly phone call with his daughter who is living in Australia, and he's so proud of her because she's gotten this job in Australia, and yet he also of course misses her. But he doesn't want her to know that he misses her because he doesn't want her to feel burdened that she needs to come back because he feels like, you know, she needs to have this life in Australia. And so the premise is that she's coming to visit in a few months, and so then suddenly this whole life that he's kind of constructed that has become more and more of a like elaborate lie, essentially. The whole life suddenly is gonna be called into question because she would be able to see for herself.


[00:29:45] And then also a new neighbor has moved in, and the new neighbor is a single mom who has a young child, and is just barely getting by, and so she has to call upon Hubert to help with some things and, and he is very uncomfortable in this position, but also does not want to, like, blatantly be rude to someone.


[00:30:12] And so he keeps getting kind of looped into some things that make him uncomfortable, but that also he has trouble saying no to. And as things progress, there gets to be this this movement that Hubert becomes a big part of, kind of unintentionally and somewhat begrudgingly, toward, toward ending loneliness.


[00:30:33] So there's this kind of campaign that starts happening about needing to end loneliness, and people being so isolated, and what can we do about it? And so there's all this community effort happening. And in a lot of ways, Hubert becomes... Both gets roped into it but it also becomes kind of like the central figure like they're kind of using him as the example, and so there's some discomfort there as well but again not a mystery, but for sure a lot of similarities about what happens when our family has, you know, is no longer with us, your children have moved away, you are alone, and all the things that used to anchor you are gone, like, what does that look like?


[00:31:17] And, What does it look like? And also what could it look like? And so back to that idea of found family and just being creative about what could change, and I mean, I loved it. I love this book. I thought it was fantastic So again, that is Mike Gales All the Lonely People, and I highly recommend it.


[00:31:36] Jen: That is still on my TBR from the last time you talked about it, and sadly I have not gotten to it yet, but I really do want to. It sounds amazing.


[00:31:42] Ashley: Yeah, so good. Well, we will wrap up with our bookish hearts. Jen, how many bookish hearts?


[00:31:50] Jen: Um, So I really loved it. I will say I read it pretty early because of when my library hold came in, and it faded a little bit, like the details faded a little bit, so maybe I'll say a four, four and a half book of charts. What about you?


[00:32:03] Ashley: Definitely five for me.


[00:32:05] Jen: Yeah.


[00:32:05] Ashley: I love Vera. Well, um, we wanted to end today with our flashback. And this is for three years ago, which is June of 2021. Jen, what were you up to then?


[00:32:21] Jen: So I looked back at my Google photos as I always do and we had two big things that month So my niece graduated from high school, which is feeling... I can't believe it's been that long. So next year she will graduate from college, and my son will graduate from high school. So that is feeling, yeah, just very, I don't know, symbolic almost.


[00:32:41] And we went to the beach, which is a little earlier than our family usually goes to the beach, but it was a great trip. So we had lots of fun photos, good memories to think back on. What about you, Ashley, what do you want to highlight from three years ago?


[00:32:54] Ashley: Well, we were in Morocco three years ago in June, and it's hard to believe it was only three years ago. Like I, in some ways I'm like, man, we have done a lot of things. Jen's heard all the agonizing details as it has gone along, but we've done a lot of things in those three years, and that in some ways feels very far away for me.


[00:33:12] But we did have a great experience there, and it was a really special time. Uh, and then I also was looking at the podcast and again, I'm thinking, how, how did we do this? I don't know how we did all this, but we had a lot going on with the podcast. We read A Cuban Girl's Guide to Tea and Tomorrow. Laura Taylor Namey is the author of that one.


[00:33:31] And that was a fantastic read. And then we were also doing some other things with it. We were starting a Patreon. We had buddy reads going, which that time we did that book for a buddy read. But we also did a Get to Know the Host, which we haven't done anything like that in a long time, Jen.


[00:33:47] Maybe we'll revisit that sometime next season. We had started our reading challenges by then, so we were talking about reading challenges, and then we had young adult lit recs. So again, I'll look at that and I think, man, I had two little kids, and we were doing a lot of things and yet somehow all of us... And Jen, you had a like one on them too.


[00:34:06] but we had a like one on for the podcast, so it was fun, but also I'm glad we. I have slowed things down just a little bit.


[00:34:13] Jen: yes.


[00:34:15] Ashley: Well, thank you so much for listening today. We hope that you enjoyed, um, Jesse Q. Sutanto's Vera Wong's Unsolicited Advice for Murderers. If you read along... If you haven't read it yet, again, it is a great story.


[00:34:27] summer read. So definitely a good time for that. And we just want to remind you again that we are going to take a break for summer. We hope that you get to take a bit of a break from some of the things that you do this summer and that you can do some relaxing. And we will be excited to be back with you for season eight in September. Thanks so much for listening.

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