Monday, August 30, 2021

Memories & Skeches #1 by Cecilia Brainard - Santo Nino de Cebu

 I will be blogging my memories of Cebu with accompanying sketch. This first personal essay is about the Santo Nino de Cebu. 

These sketches are part of the book, Magical Years Memories & Sketches by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard, available as a limited edition of 100 copies from palh@aol.com. 

~~~ 

SANTO NINO DE CEBU

Copyrignt 2021 by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard 

 


I was born and raised in the island of Cebu where my mother’s people came from. My father and his family came from another part of the Philippines—the North, Laguna specifically, where people spoke another dialect and ate meat and vegetable dishes with strong flavors. Laguna used to fascinate me for the simple fact that my father was born and raised there. Otherwise, it looked like any other provincial town, with a city hall, old church, and Spanish colonial stone and wood houses. I never lived there and only heard secondhand stories about my father’s family, about how for instance they had owned huge tracks of land which my grandfather gambled away. Laguna was a kind of mythic place which I didn’t really know.

Friday, August 27, 2021

Book Review Library Journal for The Newspaper Widow by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard

 

Book Review Library Journal August 2021

Mystery

The Newspaper Widow by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard

PALH, Sept. 2021

252 p. ISBN 9781953716149 pap $17.95 


When her husband dies in 1909, Ines Maceda inherits his newspaper, which is running out of audience and funds; she soon finds that she’s good at both the money side and the reporting side. The paper gets a scoop about the discovery of the body of a priest who had been missing several months, but any pleasure in Ines’s coup is dampened when her son Andres is imprisoned on suspicion of murdering the priest, whose past turns out to be shadier than imagined. What follows is part detective story and part historical fiction, set in the Philippines seven years after the conclusion of the Philippine-American War (1899-1902) that cemented U.S. occupation of the islands. The mystery elements are competently plotted, and the characters appealing, and there’s a charming long-distance romance, with a hint of another yet to come. The book’s signal virtue, though, is its bighearted look at Filipino culture and society in 1909. With 23 books to her name, Brainard (Magdalena) is hardly a novice, but most of her works have appeared out of small presses (including her own Philippine American Literary House), so she might be a new addition to library collections.

VERDICT An old-fashioned novel isn’t a bad thing when it’s as well done as this one about people growing, loving, and rectifying past mistakes.

Review by David Keymer, Cleveland, July 16, 2021




#bookreview #murdermystery #Philippineliterature #Filipinonovel #Philippinenovel 

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Short Video re The Newspaper Widow, novel by Cecilia Brainard

 

Book Review Library Journal August 2021

Mystery

The Newspaper Widow by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard

Philippine American Literary House, Sept. 2021

252 p. ISBN 9781953716149 pap $17.95 M

When her husband dies in 1909, Ines Maceda inherits his newspaper, which is running out of audience and funds; she soon finds that she’s good at both the money side and the reporting side. The paper gets a scoop about the discovery of the body of a priest who had been missing several months, but any pleasure in Ines’s coup is dampened when her son Andres is imprisoned on suspicion of murdering the priest, whose past turns out to be shadier than imagined. What follows is part detective story and part historical fiction, set in the Philippines seven years after the conclusion of the Philippine-American War (1899-1902) that cemented U.S. occupation of the islands. The mystery elements are competently plotted, and the characters appealing, and there’s a charming long-distance romance, with a hint of another yet to come. The book’s signal virtue, though, is its bighearted look at Filipino culture and society in 1909. With 23 books to her name, Brainard (Magdalena) is hardly a novice, but most of her works have appeared out of small presses (including her own Philippine American Literary House), so she might be a new addition to library collections.

VERDICT An old-fashioned novel isn’t a bad thing when it’s as well done as this one about people growing, loving, and rectifying past mistakes.

Review by David Keymer, Cleveland, July 16, 2021

Tags: Philippine novel, Philippine mystery, Philippine detective, Filipino novel, Filipino mystery, Filipino detective, Filipino crime novel

Brian Ascalon Roley in HOT OFF THE PRESS LITERARY READING Oct. 9, 2021 #HOTP

 

 


2021 HOT OFF THE PRESS Literary Reading, a program of the Filipino American International Book Festival, and sponsored by the San Francisco Public Library & PAWA, will go virtual this year, on Saturday, October 9, 2021 Californa Time, from 5-6:30 p.m. 
Register at the San Francisco Public Library, Events page: https://sfpl.org/events/#!/filters?date-end-after=10/09/2021


Getting to know Brian Ascalon Roley. In 2020 Brian became a National Endowment of the Arts Literature Fellow.

He has received additional fellowships and awards from the the University of Cambridge, Cornell University, the Ohio Arts Council, the Djerassi Foundation, Ragdale, and the VCCA, among others. His books include American Son: a novel , which was a Los Angeles Times Best Book, New York Times Notable Book, Kiriyama Pacific Rim Prize Finalist, and winner of the Association for Asian American Studies Prose Book Award, among other honors and has been taught widely. His collection, The Last Mistress of Jose Rizal (Northwestern University Press) appeared in April 2016. He is currently Professor of English at Miami University of Ohio.

He will read from his award-winning chapbook, Ambuscade.

His website is brianroley.com. Look for his books in Eastwind Books of Berkeley, among other US booksellers.


PRESS RELEASEhttps://cbrainard.blogspot.com/2021/08/press-release-2021-hot-off-press.html

Eventbrite link:  https://tinyurl.com/24ucb88u

 #Philippineliterature #filipinoamericanliterature #pinoylit #philippinebooks #goodreads #philippineauthors #ustph #literaryreading #poetryreading #bookfestival #FilAmbookfest #HOTP


Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Randy Ribay in HOT OFF THE PRESS LITERARY READING Oct. 9, 2021

 

2021 HOT OFF THE PRESS Literary Reading, a program of the Filipino American International Book Festival, and sponsored by the San Francisco Public Library & PAWA, will go virtual this year, on Saturday, October 9, 2021 Pacific Time, from 5-6:30 p.m. 

Register at the San Francisco Public Library, Events page: https://sfpl.org/events/#!/filters?date-end-after=10/09/2021

Get to know RANDY RIBAY – Randy Ribay is the author of An Infinite Number of Parallel UniversesAfter the Shot Drops, and, most recently, Patron Saints of Nothing—which received five starred reviews, was selected as a Freeman Book Award winner, and was a finalist for the National Book Award, LA Times Book Prize, Walden Book Award, Edgar Award, International Thriller Writers Award, and the UK’s CILIP Carnegie Medal. Randy was born in the Philippines and raised in the United States. He earned his BA in English Literature from the University of Colorado at Boulder and his Ed.M. in Language and Literacy from Harvard Graduate School of Education. He currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his family and teaches high school English full-time. Visit him at randyribay.com or on Twitter and Instagram @randyribay.

Look for his book in Mt Cloud Bookshop, Solidaridad Bookshop, and Eastwind Books of Berkeley.


PRESS RELEASEhttps://cbrainard.blogspot.com/2021/08/press-release-2021-hot-off-press.html

Eventbrite link:  https://tinyurl.com/24ucb88u

 #Philippineliterature #filipinoamericanliterature #pinoylit #philippinebooks #goodreads #philippineauthors #ustph #literaryreading #poetryreading #bookfestival #FilAmbookfest #HOTP

 


Saturday, August 21, 2021

Mae Respicio in Hot Off the Press Literary Reading #HOTP


2021 HOT OFF THE PRESS Literary Reading, a program of the Filipino American International Book Festival, and sponsored by the San Francisco Public Library & PAWA, will go virtual this year, on Saturday, October 9, 2021 Pacific Time, from 5-6:30 p.m. 

Register at the San Francisco Public Library, Events page: https://sfpl.org/events/#!/filters?date-end-after=10/09/2021

Get to know MAE RESPICIO - Mae writes middle grade novels full of hope and heart. She’s the author of THE HOUSE THAT LOU BUILT, which won an Asian/Pacific American Libraries Association Honor award, was an NPR Best Book, and was named to many state reading and “best of” lists. Her most recent books are ANY DAY WITH YOU and HOW TO WIN A SLIME WAR (Wendy Lamb Books/Random House). Mae lives with her family in the suburban wild of Northern California. Learn more at maerespicio.com.

Look for her book in Eastwind Books of Berkeley, among other US bookstores.


PRESS RELEASEhttps://cbrainard.blogspot.com/2021/08/press-release-2021-hot-off-press.html

Eventbrite link:  https://tinyurl.com/24ucb88u

 #Philippineliterature #filipinoamericanliterature #pinoylit #philippinebooks #goodreads #philippineauthors #ustph #literaryreading #poetryreading #bookfestival #FilAmbookfest #HOTP


Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Caroline S. Hau in HOT OFF THE PRESS Literary Reading, Oct. 9, 2021


2021 HOT OFF THE PRESS Literary Reading, a program of the Filipino American International Book Festival, and sponsored by the San Francisco Public Library & PAWA, will go virtual this year, on Saturday, October 9, 2021 Pacific Time, from 5-6:30 p.m. 

Register at the San Francisco Public Library, Events page: https://sfpl.org/events/#!/filters?date-end-after=10/09/2021

Get to know, CAROLINE S. HAU – Professor at the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University, Caroline obtained her BA degree from the University of the Philippines and her MA and PhD from Cornell University. She received the Grant Goodman Prize in Historical Studies from the Philippine Studies Group of the Association of Asian Studies. She will read from her debut novel, TIEMPO MUERTO.

 Look for her book in Mt Cloud Bookshop, Solidaridad Bookshop, and Eastwind Books of Berkeley.

PRESS RELEASEhttps://cbrainard.blogspot.com/2021/08/press-release-2021-hot-off-press.html

Eventbrite link:  https://tinyurl.com/24ucb88u

 #Philippineliterature #filipinoamericanliterature #pinoylit #philippinebooks #goodreads #philippineauthors #ustph #literaryreading #poetryreading #bookfestival #FilAmbookfest #HOTP

Monday, August 16, 2021

RIP Jaime Picornell of Cebu Philippines

 

 l-r: Chinggay Utzurrum, Jaime Picornell, Cecilia Brainard

I am sharing pictures that include my friend Jaime Picornell who unfortunately died of Cardiac arrest (Covid related) on Monday August 16, 2021, 2 p.m., Cebu Philippine time. His family and friends and I are very, very sad over this loss.
I knew Jaime all my life, because Cebu in the 1950s-1960s was small and families knew one another. I spent more time with him during my teenage years. He was close to my brother and his wife (Jess and Teresita Manguerra), and was also very close to my sister Ana Manguerra and cousin Chickie Feraren. He was also Mama's dear friend. He used to visit us for merienda or dinner and regale us (in the most animated way) with stories about the personalities of Cebu. He was a great storyteller, writer, teacher, businessman, and he also served as the Consul of the Spanish Consulate in Cebu.
He was a steadfast friend, whom we could call on at any time to chat or go out with, or to cry on his shoulder.
When he was young, he used to send us into hysterics laughing at this stories. He mellowed out as he got older but he always had stories. He loved stories, especially about Cebu. He wrote about Cebu and the people of Cebu in his columns. He was in fact a kind of historian for Cebu, and if you needed any information about Cebuano history or personality, he could give it to you.
I have many stories about Jaime, and I'll have to write something longer later on. All I want to say now is that I am heartbroken as his family and friends are. We will miss him. Rest in Christ's peace, Jaime.

PS: The pictures date from 2019 to as early as 1969.

 Seated l-r: Terry Manguerra, Cecilia Brainard, Jaime Picornell; 

Standing l-r; Louie Nacorda, Gavin Bagares, Guest, Jobers Bersales


clockwise from l: Nina Briones Blanco, Cecilia Brainard, Chinggay Utzurrum, Terry Manguerra, Tina Escano Unchuan, Chona Bernad, Cecilia Picornell, Jaime Picornell, Marilou Chiongbian

seated l-r: Chinggay Utzurrum, Terry Manguerra, Inday Blanco;
standing l-r: Cecilia Brainard, Jaime Picornell, Chona Bernad

l-r: Cecilia Brainard, Jaime Picornell, Karina Bolasco

l-r: Jaime Picornell, Cecilia Brainard, Helen Misa, Ed Misa


1969 photo, l-r: Bing Velasco- Jacala, Cecilia Brainard, Ana Manguerra, Manny Gonzalez, Guest; standing: Guests, Standing far right is Jaime Picornell


Read also: The Jolly Spaniard in Cebu - Cecilia Brainard's article remembering Jaime Picornell

Tags: Cebu. Cebuano, Philippines, society, Cebuano, Cebu history, Cebu personalities, Cebu society

Friday, August 13, 2021

George Gonzaga Deoso in HOT OFF THE PRESS Literary Reading, October 9

 

2021 HOT OFF THE PRESS Literary Reading, a program of the Filipino American International Book Festival, and sponsored by the San Francisco Public Library & PAWA, will go virtual this year, on Saturday, October 9, 2021 Pacific Time, from 5-6:30 p.m. 

Register at the San Francisco Public Library, Events page: https://sfpl.org/events/#!/filters?date-end-after=10/09/2021

Get to know, GEORGE GONZAGA DEOSO - A fellow for poetry at the University of Santo Tomas, Iyas, and Silliman national writers' workshop, George will read from The Horseman's Revolt and Other Horrors, a collection of dark short fiction (UST Publishing House). Look for his book in Lazada, Shopee, Mt Cloud Bookshop, Solidaridad Bookshop, and Eastwind Books of Berkeley.

  


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

PRESS RELEASEhttps://cbrainard.blogspot.com/2021/08/press-release-2021-hot-off-press.html

Eventbrite link:  https://tinyurl.com/24ucb88u

 #Philippineliterature #filipinoamericanliterature #pinoylit #philippinebooks #goodreads #philippineauthors #ustph #literaryreading #poetryreading #bookfestival #FilAmbookfest

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Walter Ang's article "Prolific Writer Cecilia Manguerra Brainard Releases her Short Stories

 

  
 

"Prolific Writer Cecilia Manguerra Brainard Releases her Short Stories"

by Walter Ang, Inquirer.net, 8/11/21 

https://usa.inquirer.net/80089/prolific-writer-cecilia-manguerra-brainard-re-releases-her-short-stories

LOS ANGELES — Prolific author and publisher Filipino American Cecilia Manguerra Brainard is releasing a new anthology, Selected Short Stories, which collects 39 of her previously published short works.

In addition, she is also re-issuing her mystery novel The Newspaper Widow. Both titles are published in the U.S. by Philippine American Literary House. In the Philippines, the two titles are published by University of Santo Tomas Publishing House.

Monday, August 9, 2021

Jhoanna Lynn Cruz in 2021 HOT OFF THE PRESS Literary Reading October 9

 

2021 HOT OFF THE PRESS Literary Reading, a program of the Filipino American International Book Festival, and sponsored by the San Francisco Public Library & PAWA, will go virtual this year, on Saturday, October 9, 2021 Pacific Time, from 5-6:30 p.m. 

Register at the San Francisco Public Library, Events page: https://sfpl.org/events/#!/filters?date-end-after=10/09/2021

Get to know JHOANNA LYNN CRUZ, author of Abi Nako, Or So I Thought (UP 2020). Abi Nako is part-essay, confession, part auto-detective work, a leap of love and faith. It sings off the page, intimate, questing, embedded in the local and the body. It gives us a way to live, make art, and dance.

Find Jhoanna at twitter@jhoannalynncruz or Instagram@jhoannacruz2



 

PRESS RELEASEhttps://cbrainard.blogspot.com/2021/08/press-release-2021-hot-off-press.html

Eventbrite link:  https://tinyurl.com/24ucb88u

 #Philippineliterature #filipinoamericanliterature #pinoylit #philippinebooks #goodreads #philippineauthors

Saturday, August 7, 2021

Chapter of The Newspaper Widow in Philippine PEN Journal




"The Island of the Living Dead" a chapter from The Newspaper Widow, is part of the Philippine PEN Journal HEALING, edited by Herminio Beltran, Jr., PEN International 2014.

This particular chapter is about the Leper Island, Culyo, in the novel.

 You can read it here: page 28 or 15 in this link http://www.philippinepen.ph/Journal.pdf

Cecilia Manguerra Brainard's novel, THE NEWSPAPER WIDOW, is a literary mystery set in the Philippines in 1909, shortly after the Spaniards lost to the Americans, and the Americans occupied the Philippines. The widow Ines and her friend the French seamstress Melisande solve the crime of the dead priest in the creek in order to free the son of Ines from jail. Inspired by her great-grandmother who was the first woman publisher in the Philippines, Brainard has written a character-driven novel that raises interesting and complicated questions about morality and justice while the protagonist searches for the priest's true killer. What begins as a murder mystery transforms into something greater as love, loyalty and friendship are tested and refined. Shortlisted for the Inaugural Cirilo F. Bautista Prize for the Novel, Brainard's novel is a captivating read.


Find the book in Amazon or Lazada or Shopee.  Eastwind Books of Berkeley also has copies. 


tags: leprosy, leper island, leper colony #philippinesbooks #philippinesnovels #philippinesfiction 







Thursday, August 5, 2021

Gina Apostol, in 2021 HOT OFF THE PRESS Literary Reading, Oct. 9

 

 2021 HOT OFF THE PRESS LITERARY READING with Gina Apostol

2021 HOT OFF THE PRESS Literary Reading, a program of the Filipino American International Book Festival, and sponsored by the San Francisco Public Library and PAWA, will go virtual this year, on Saturday, October 9, 2021 Pacific Time, from 5-6:30 p.m. 

Register at the San Francisco Public Library, Events page: https://sfpl.org/events/#!/filters?date-end-after=10/09/2021

Get to know GINA APOSTOL, critically-acclaimed author of Insurreto, Bibliolepsy, Gun Dealers' Daughter and The Revolution According to Raymundo Mata. She will be reading from The Revolution of Raymundo Mata on Oct. 9.



PRESS RELEASEhttps://cbrainard.blogspot.com/2021/08/press-release-2021-hot-off-press.html

Eventbrite link:  https://tinyurl.com/24ucb88u

tags: #poetry reading #filambooks #filamauthors #pinoylit #goodreads #Philippineliterature #poetryreading #FilAmbookfest #Filipinobooks #filipinoauthors #filipinonovels #filipinoliterature

Herminia Menez Reviews 2 Short Story Collections by Cecilia Brainard

 




Review by Halo-Halo Review, reprinted with permission

WOMAN WITH HORNS AND OTHER STORIES by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard

(U.S. Edition PALH 2020, New Day 1987) 

and 

ACAPULCO AT SUNSET AND OTHER STORIES by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard

(U.S. Edition PALH 2020, Anvil 1995)

 

BOOKS' LINK


In her debut collection of short stories, WOMAN WITH HORNS, Cecilia Manguerra Brainard launches her mythical Ubec (Cebu) – a historic, cosmopolitan and vibrant city – the setting of many of her short stories, as well as her most recent novel, THE NEWSPAPER WIDOW. 

Ubec is home to the historical figure Lapu-Lapu, portrayed in “1521” not in his role as the legendary defender of the island against Spanish conquistadors but as a new father engulfed with joy at the birth of his first son, only to lose him, soon after, to enemy fire.

In “Black Man in the Forest,” as in “1521,” war serves as the necessary background for highlighting the complex emotional drama that is at the core of the narrative. The Philippine American War situates General Gregorio in a forest, where he has fled with a few of his men to escape the Americans. Confronted by a “black man,” he is wounded in the leg and he fires back, killing the American soldier with his last bullets. In the aftermath, the general reflects on his victim’s death, and with great compassion gives the stranger a river-funeral, saving him from the predation of one of his men, the cannibalistic Liver-Eater.

Library Journal Book Review of Cecilia Brainard's Novel The Newspaper Widow

 



Book Review Library Journal August 2021

Mystery

The Newspaper Widow by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard

PALH, Sept. 2021

252 p. ISBN 9781953716149 pap $17.95 M

When her husband dies in 1909, Ines Maceda inherits his newspaper, which is running out of audience and funds; she soon finds that she’s good at both the money side and the reporting side. The paper gets a scoop about the discovery of the body of a priest who had been missing several months, but any pleasure in Ines’s coup is dampened when her son Andres is imprisoned on suspicion of murdering the priest, whose past turns out to be shadier than imagined. What follows is part detective story and part historical fiction, set in the Philippines seven years after the conclusion of the Philippine-American War (1899-1902) that cemented U.S. occupation of the islands. The mystery elements are competently plotted, and the characters appealing, and there’s a charming long-distance romance, with a hint of another yet to come. The book’s signal virtue, though, is its bighearted look at Filipino culture and society in 1909. With 23 books to her name, Brainard (Magdalena) is hardly a novice, but most of her works have appeared out of small presses (including her own Philippine American Literary House), so she might be a new addition to library collections.

VERDICT An old-fashioned novel isn’t a bad thing when it’s as well done as this one about people growing, loving, and rectifying past mistakes.

Review by David Keymer, Cleveland, July 16, 2021 

  • Copyright belongs to the Library Journal 

 A DIFFERENT KIND OF MYSTERY/DETECTIVE NOVEL

SHORTLISTED IN THE INAUGURAL CIRILO  F. BAUTISTA PRIZE FOR THE NOVEL

Finalist for the 37th National Book Award in the Philippines 

 The Newspaper Widow by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard, available from Amazon in paperback: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1953716148

Check out Barnes and Noble, and Eastwind Books of Berkeley 

 
 
In the Philippines, look for it in Lazada and Shopee.

tags: #bookreview #womensleuths #mystery #detective #philippinesbooks #Philippinesliterature

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Press Release: 2021 Hot Off the Press Literary Reading - October 9, 2021




PRESS RELEASE

San Francisco Public Library (sfpl.org)                                             

Philippine American Writers and Artists (pawainc.com)

          Cecilia Brainard - palh@aol.com 

 

NINE FILIPINO & FILAM AUTHORS IN OCTOBER LITERARY READING

The Hot Off the Press (HOTP) Literary Reading, a program of the Filipino American International Book Festival, will be via Zoom this 2021. The event, sponsored by the San Francisco Public Library and PAWA will be held on Saturday, October 9, 2021, 5-6:30 p.m. PT. 

 REGISTER:  https://sfpl.org/events/2021/10/09/author-hot-press-filipino-and-filam-literary-reading.

 OR

REGISTER via Zoom: https://bit.ly/FilAmHist10-9-21 

You can also view the event here:

YouTube Event - https://youtu.be/dRMiUVvhXbA

Hosted and Moderated by author Cecilia Manguerra Brainard, Hot Off the Press Literary Readings have been showcasing Filipino and FilAm authors and their new books since 2011.

This year’s HOTP Literary Reading includes nine Filipino and Filipino American authors: Gina Apostol, Jhoanna Lynn Cruz, Geroge Gonzaga Deoso, Caroline Sy Hau, Mae Respicio, Randy Ribay, Brian Ascalon Roley, Ricco Siasoco, and Lara Stapleton.

Monday, August 2, 2021

Cecilia Brainard's THE NEWSPAPER WIDOW -- A Different Kind of Mystery/Detective Novel

 


A DIFFERENT KIND OF MYSTERY/DETECTIVE NOVEL - THE NEWSPAPER WIDOW by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard
PALH (Philippine American Literary House) is proud to announce the release of the US edition of the novel, THE NEWSPAPER WIDOW, by Filipina American author, Cecilia Manguerra Brainard. The book is available in paperback from Amazon and other venues (https://www.amazon.com/dp/1953716148 ). It is also available in Kindle format.

The Philippine edition (University of Santo Tomas Publishing House) is available from Lazada and Shopee.  

Cecilia Manguerra Brainard's novel, THE NEWSPAPER WIDOW, is a literary mystery set in the Philippines in 1909, shortly after the Spaniards lost to the Americans, and the Americans occupied the Philippines. The widow Ines and her friend the French seamstress Melisande solve the crime of the dead priest in the creek in order to free the son of Ines from jail. Inspired by her great-grandmother who was the first woman publisher in the Philippines, Brainard has written a character-driven novel that raises interesting and complicated questions about morality and justice while the protagonist searches for the priest's true killer. What begins as a murder mystery transforms into something greater as love, loyalty and friendship are tested and refined. Shortlisted for the Inaugural Cirilo F. Bautista Prize for the Novel, Brainard's novel is a captivating read.