So many good books to look forward to in March!! Here are a few that I’m excited to read! If you’re interested in any of them, be sure to check out my links to learn more and purchase a copy for yourself! All purchases made through the links below go to support this site.

 Anita de Monte Laughs Last
Xochitl Gonzalez
“…mesmerizing novel about a first-generation Ivy League student who uncovers the genius work of a female artist decades after her suspicious death.”

Pub Date: March 5

Thunder Song: Essays
Sasha taqʷšəblu LaPointe
“….razor-sharp, clear-eyed collection of essays on what it means to be a proudly queer indigenous woman in the United States today”

 Pub Date: March 5

The Inhumans and Other Stories: A Selection of Bengali Science Fiction
Bodhisattva Chattopadhyay
“first English translation of a cult science fiction favorite by Hemendra Kumar Roy, one of the giants of early Bangla literature, and other sf stories from the colonial period in India”

Pub Date: March 12

Say Hello to My Little Friend
Jennine Capó Crucet
“Scarface meets Moby Dick in this groundbreaking, darkly comic novel about a young man’s attempt to capitalize on his mother’s murky legacy—a story steeped in Miami’s marvelous and sinister magic.”

Pub Date: March 5

There’s Always This Year: On Basketball and Ascension
Hanif Abdurraqib
“a clarion call to radically reimagine how we think about our culture, our country, and ourselves.”

Pub Date: March 26

Slow Productivity: The Lost Art of Accomplishment Without Burnout
Cal Newport
“Do Fewer Things. Work at a Natural Pace. Obsess over Quality.”

Pub Date: March 5

The Formula: How Rogues, Geniuses, and Speed Freaks Reengineered F1 Into the World’s Fastest-Growing Sport
Joshua Robinson & Jonathan Clegg
“riveting saga of how Formula 1 broke through in America, detailing the eclectic culture of racing obsessives, glamorous settings, gearheads, engineering geniuses, dashing racers, and bitter rivalries that have made F1 the world’s fastest growing sport.”

 March 12

Twelve Trees: The Deep Roots of Our Future
Daniel Lewis
“global exploration of nature and survival as seen via a dozen species of trees that represent the challenges facing our planet”

March 12

All Are Welcome: Wherever You Go
Alexandra Penfold (Author), Suzanne Kaufman (Illustrator)
“…modern and inclusive picture book that celebrates the many milestones of a child’s life ranging from a school play to graduation…”

 March 12

Islas: A Celebration of Tropical Cooking—125 Recipes from the Indian, Atlantic, and Pacific Ocean Islands
Von Diaz
“…intimate reflection on tropical island cooking’s bold flavors and big stories, with 125 recipes…”

 March 12

Hi, Friends! I hope you had a good reading month! I got a chance to read some wonderful books in February – some old, some new, some yet to come! As always, I have a one-word review of the titles books below, but please head to my shop to learn more about these books and purchase a copy of any that catch your interest! (All purchases made using the link help support my site!)

P.S. Distilling my thoughts down to one word to describe these incredible books is really, really hard!! 🙂 I will have longer, professional reviews coming for The Formula and The Wives, so stay tuned for when those are published! For the others, be sure to follow me on Instagram @gracerajendran for brief reviews as I read them!

The Formula: How Rogues, Geniuses, and Speed Freaks Reengineered F1 Into the World’s Fastest-Growing Sport by Joshua Robinson and Jonathan Clegg (March 12): ENTERTAINING!

A Garden Called Home by Jessica J. Lee and Elaine Chen (March 5): HEART-WARMING!

The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie: FUN!

Whalefall by Daniel Kraus: SUSPENSEFUL!

The Gulf by Adam De Souza: EVOCATIVE!

Slow Productivity by Cal Newport (March 5): THOUGHT-PROVOKING!

Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer: RIVETING!

The Wives by Simone Gorrindo (April 9): ENGROSSING!

Happy Reading!

Here are the new releases in February that I’m excited for! I have reviewed JoyFull so when that review is published, I’ll link to it here and make a separate post for it but, in the meantime, here are some brief blurbs from the publisher. As always, I’ve created a collections page on my store where you can learn more about each book and author and purchase a copy if you’d like!

MY BELOVED LIFE by Amitava Kumar
An absorbing, exceptionally moving novel that traces the arc of a man’s life, an ordinary life made exceptional by the fact that he has loved and has been loved in turn. (Feb 27, 2024; Knopf)

THE FOX WIFE by Yangsze Choo
Manchuria, 1908. In the last years of the dying Qing Empire, a courtesan is found frozen in a doorway. Her death is clouded by rumors of foxes, which are believed to lure people by transforming themselves into beautiful women and handsome men. Bao, a detective with an uncanny ability to sniff out the truth, is hired to uncover the dead woman’s identity.
(February 13, 2024; Henry Holt & Co.)

THE BOOK OF LOVE by Kelly Link
In the long-awaited debut novel from bestselling author and Pulitzer Prize finalist Kelly Link, three teenagers become pawns in a supernatural power struggle.
(February 13, 2024; Random House)

SMOKE AND ASHES: Opium’s Hidden Histories by Amitav Ghosh
Ghosh unravels the impact of the opium trade on global history and in his own family―the climax of a yearslong project.
(February 13, 2024; Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

1927. Olivia “Livy” West is a fearless young pilot with a love of adventure. She yearns to cross oceans and travel the skies. When she learns of the Dole Air Race—a high-stakes contest to be the first to make the 2,400 mile Pacific crossing from the West Coast to Hawai’i—she sets her sights on qualifying. But it soon becomes clear that only men will make the cut.
(February 6, 2024; MIRA)

An abandoned English manor. A peculiar missing portrait. A cozy, deviously clever murder mystery, perfect for fans of Richard Osman and Anthony Horowitz.
(February 13, 2024; Hanover Square Press)

JOYFULL by Radhi Devlukia-Shetty
A passionate self-taught cook and nutritionist, Radhi Devlukia-Shetty’s JoyFull is abundant and inviting. With more than 125 plant-based recipes, it is designed to balance health and satisfaction.
(February 27, 2024; S&S/Simon Element)

In this uplifting memoir, a professor and activist shares what birds can teach us about life, social change, and protecting the environment. Trish O’Kane is an accidental ornithologist. In her nearly two decades writing about justice as an investigative journalist, she’d never paid attention to nature. But then Hurricane Katrine destroyed her New Orleans home, sending her into an emotional tailspin.
(February 27, 2024; Ecco)

THE CURE FOR BURNOUT: How to Find Balance and Reclaim Your Life by Emily Ballesteros
In The Cure for Burnout, burnout management coach and TikTok influencer Emily Ballesteros combines scientific and cultural research, her expertise in organizational psychology, and the tried-and-true strategies she’s successfully implemented with clients around the globe to demystify burnout for our post-pandemic world – and set you on a path toward a life of personal and professional balance. 
(February 13, 2024; The Dial Press)

ON LOCATIONS: Lessons Learned from My Life On Set with The Sopranos and in the Film Industry by Mark Kamine and Mike White
This page-turning account of starting at the lowest rung on the production ladder among enormously famous & outrageously demanding people will be devoured for its insights, gossip, humor, & storytelling. Married and with a child, the author takes unpaid gigs to get a foot in the door, and eventually ends up working on all seasons of The Sopranos, often named the best TV show ever.
(February 6, 2024; Steerforth)

BIG MEG: The Story of the Largest and Most Mysterious Predator that Ever Lived by Tim Flannery and Emma Flannery
Internationally bestselling author and renowned scientist Tim Flannery and his daughter, scientist Emma Flannery, deliver an informative-yet-intimate portrait of the megalodon, an extinct shark and the largest predator of all time.
(February 6, 2024; Atlantic Monthly Press)

What books are you looking forward to in February and are there any here that you’re interested in checking out? Let me know in the comments or on Instagram!

Happy Reading!

The ocean has been on my mind for weeks now… 


Receiving a beautiful, old copy of Moby-Dick for Christmas has really made me want to read some books set on the ocean this year. I’m not ready to re-read Moby-Dick (again), but I’ve never read Hemingway’s Old Man And The Sea and I’ve been wanting to for a while so that’s on my list for March.

However, I’ll be starting off the year with a book that was just published this month and that I’m eager to read! Wild and Distant Seas by Tara Karr Roberts. I talked about it in a couple of posts this month already if you’d like to read more about it!

And, in February, I will be reading Whalefall by Daniel Kraus because I’ve been intrigued by it for months now! Publisher MTV Books describes it as a “scientifically accurate thriller about a scuba diver who’s been swallowed by an eighty-foot, sixty-ton sperm whale and has only one hour to escape before his oxygen runs out.”

I’m not going to write out my list for the entire year because I want to be able to add things that I may discover as the months go by.

You can read more about and purchase copies of these books on my page HERE.

I LOVE literary totes and have quite the collection – totes I’ve bought, totes I’ve been sent by publishers – and now, it’s a dream come true that my own art is on a literary tote too!!! This features a quote from the Seattle Arts & Lectures event back in September 2023 with Ann Patchett in conversation with Melinda French Gates. I was struck by the beauty of something she said during this event – “We, as humans, communicate with stories.” – so I illustrated the quote, which now lives on forever in the form of these beautiful tote bags available through Seattle Arts & Lectures.

The totes are 100% cotton in a natural canvas color, 15″W x 14″H x 3″D, with 22″ webbed handles in forest green.

You can purchase the tote bags and support the transformational work of Seattle Arts & Lectures HERE.

I read quite a few books in January!

  • Two were for a book club: Chain-Gang All-Stars (for my book club at work, since we will be hosting the author soon) and The Mysterious Affair At Styles (for the Official Agatha Christie reading challenge)
  • One was for my Ocean-themed Reading Challenge: Wild and Distant Seas
  • Two were for professional review: JoyFull and Masquerade (I’ll post the reviews when they are published)
  • Two were books that I received from publishers: The Uncharted Flight of Olivia West and The Framed Women of Ardemore House
  • And I am slowly reading through a copy of The Pickwick Papers this year as that was a holiday gift from a friend last year. I’ll be reading a little bit of it every month this year until I’m done.

    I don’t rate the books I read as I don’t like comparing things that are so different and wonderful in their own ways. If I don’t like something, I just don’t finish it or post about it. With these posts, I just want to share the books I loved so that you can check it out for yourself and see if it suits your tastes! Instead of a rating system, I like to use one word or phrase to describe books and, if you’re interested in longer reviews, please check out my Instagram (@gracerajendran) ! :

    I’ve made a collection of all of these books on, where you can also read more about them or purchase a copy for yourself. If you do, be sure to let me know on Instagram or in the comments here – I would love to hear what you were excited to read!

    I really enjoyed reading all of these and got to experience a wide range of genres – fiction, speculative fiction, classics, fantasy, mystery, and even a cookbook! I usually like to read an art instruction book or a nature book during the month as well but, as you can see, I really didn’t have time to add those in – January really did fly by for me! How did it feel for you?

    Happy New Year! May 2024 bring you many joys and wonderful books to read!

    In case you’re looking for a new read in the new year, here are some January releases that I’m particularly excited about. This post is all fiction: literary, romance, science fiction, etc. I will post another list soon for nonfiction.

    If you’re interested in reading more about each book or purchasing them, click on the book title to be sent to the book on Every purchase using one of my links helps support my website. You can also check out my entire January 2024 Fiction list on by clicking here: January 2024 Fiction Book Releases


    WILD AND DISTANT SEAS by Tara Karr Roberts (Jan 2)

    You all know how much I love Moby Dick and books about the ocean in general, so you can guess why I’m excited for this one!
    From the publisher’s page: “Wild and Distant Seas takes Moby-Dick as its starting point, but Tara Karr Roberts brings four remarkable women to life in a spellbinding epic all her own.”


    MARTYR! by Kaveh Akbar (Jan 23)
    The publisher’s blurb calls this: “A newly sober, orphaned son of Iranian immigrants, guided by the voices of artists, poets, and kings, embarks on a remarkable search for a family secret that leads him to a terminally ill painter living out her final days in the Brooklyn Museum.”


    THE BULLET SWALLOWER by Elizabeth Gonzalez James (Jan 23)
    I got to meet Elizabeth on a pre-pub party over the summer and, therefore, got to read her incredible book early! This is a beautifully-written magical realism set in the American West. It will fill you with wonder and give you so much to ponder long after you read the last pages.

    The publisher says: “The Bullet Swallower tackles border politics, intergenerational trauma, and the legacies of racism and colonialism in a lush setting and stunning prose that asks who pays for the sins of our ancestors, and whether it is possible to be better than our forebears.”


    THE STORM WE MADE by Vanessa Chan (Jan 2)

    I was lucky to meet Vanessa during a pre-pub tour and so got to read this amazing book early!
    I was captivated from the first page. The storytelling is amazing and I really felt so much for the characters and their experiences in Malaya (present-day Malaysia) around WWII.

    Publisher MarySue Ricci Books says: “A spellbinding, sweeping novel about a Malayan mother who becomes an unlikely spy for the invading Japanese forces during WWII—and the shocking consequences that rain upon her community and family.”



    I also had the pleasure of meeting Janice last summer on a pre-pub tour and got to read her book early. This is an exciting and thrilling mystery told in the form of transcripts,
    Interviews, emails, WhatsApp messages etc. The story is very intriguing and the format of the novel makes the reader feel like an active and immersed participant!

    Publisher Atria Books describes this as being “about a true crime journalist who revives a long-buried case about a cult—and finds herself too close to the story.”


    YOUR UTOPIA by Bora Chung and translated by Anton Hur (Jan 30)

    Publisher Algonquin Books describes it as “From the internationally acclaimed author of Cursed Bunny, in another thrilling translation from Korean by Anton Hur, this collection shares tales of loss and discovery, idealism and dystopia, death and immortality. ​”

    An illustration of an owl by artist Grace Rajendran, featuring a quote from author Jennifer Ackerman ("What An Owl Knows").

    While “owls are not omnipresent for us in the way songbirds are, they’re present for us in some deeper way or place, where night lives inside us.”

    -Jennifer Ackerman, in “What An Owl Knows”

    This was one of my favorite quotes from What An Owl Knows: The New Science of The World’s Most Enigmatic Bird by Jennifer Ackerman (The Genius of Birds). If you’re intrigued by owls as well or curious to learn more about their natural history, biology, and lore, be sure to check out my Starred Review of this fascinating book in the Nature & Environment section of the July 7th issue of Shelf Awareness (CLICK HERE).

    Book cover of "What An Owl Knows" by Jennifer Ackerman.
    Cover of Love & Saffron

    Note from Grace: “Due to sudden illness, I need to postpone the book club for LOVE & SAFFRON. Working on a new date with the author. Please sign up for the newsletter or follow me on Instagram for updates. Thanks!”

    Hello, booklovers! I hope you’ve been having a lovely Fall – a season that epitomizes warmth, coziness, and community. The perfect time to take a trip to the Pacific Northwest in America with a book that celebrates food. letter-writing, and friendship!

    I hope you’ll join me, over the next two months, in reading (and, I know, enjoying) the novel Love & Saffron: A Novel of Friendship, Food, And Love by Kim Fay.

    Kim will be joining us for the last half hour of the book club to answer questions and share her own insights and stories about the book. Be sure to sign up for our newsletter – to the side of this post (or at the bottom if you’re reading this on mobile) – to stay updated about all things book club and receive reading resources and reminders.

    I hope you will be able to read along with us this month and make it to the book club – registration details are below. I’m looking forward to sharing Love & Saffron with you.

    Happy Reading!
    ❤ , Grace

    Author : Kim Fay
    Book: Love & Saffron: A Novel of Friendship, Food, And Love

    Even if you have attended a previous Boarding Pass Book Club, this is a new Zoom meeting, specific for the upcoming book club, so you will need to register again.
    After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.


    Copies of Love & Saffron, with bookplates signed just for us by author Kim Fay, are available by special arrangement through Beach Books in Seaside, Oregon. They are generously offering a 15% discount on this book for members of the book club, so please sign up to our newsletter (see quick signup in the right margin or at the bottom of this page) if you already haven’t and I’ll be sending that code to you in your book club prep emails. Beach Books is such a wonderful indie bookstore with the best staff, so do check them out for this, and your other book needs!

    CLICK HERE to view / purchase Love & Saffron


    The Instant National Bestseller and #1 Indie Next Pick

    In the vein of the classic 84, Charing Cross Road, this witty and tender novel follows two women in 1960s America as they discover that food really does connect us all, and that friendship and laughter are the best medicine.

    When twenty-seven-year-old Joan Bergstrom sends a fan letter–as well as a gift of saffron–to fifty-nine-year-old Imogen Fortier, a life-changing friendship begins. Joan lives in Los Angeles and is just starting out as a writer for the newspaper food pages. Imogen lives on Camano Island outside Seattle, writing a monthly column for a Pacific Northwest magazine, and while she can hunt elk and dig for clams, she’s never tasted fresh garlic–exotic fare in the Northwest of the sixties. As the two women commune through their letters, they build a closeness that sustains them through the Cuban Missile Crisis, the assassination of President Kennedy, and the unexpected in their own lives.
    Food and a good life—they can’t be separated. It is a discovery the women share, not only with each other, but with the men in their lives. Because of her correspondence with Joan, Imogen’s decades-long marriage blossoms into something new and exciting, and in turn, Joan learns that true love does not always come in the form we expect it to. Into this beautiful, intimate world comes the ultimate test of Joan and Imogen’s friendship—a test that summons their unconditional trust in each other.
    A brief respite from our chaotic world, Love & Saffron is a gem of a novel, a reminder that food and friendship are the antidote to most any heartache, and that human connection will always be worth creating.


    Photo of Kim Fay from Penguin Random House’s website

    Learn more about Kim on her website:

    Born and raised in Washington State, Kim Fay is a former bookseller and the author of Communion: A Culinary Journey Through Vietnam, a Gourmand World Cookbook Award winner, and The Map of Lost Memories, an Edgar Award finalist for Best First Novel. Fay lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Jim, and their dog, Mabel. Love & Saffron is her second novel. 

    Cover of Heart Radical

    Hello, everyone! I hope your September has been off to a good start. I am so excited to present this month’s selection, HEART RADICAL: A SEARCH FOR LANGUAGE, LOVE, AND BELONGING by Anne Liu Kellor.

    Here’s a little bit about the book, in Anne’s own words, from her website: “I wanted to understand how my path was tied to my mother tongue. As a young, multiracial, bilingual American woman, I traveled through China, the country of my mother’s birth. Along the way, I tried on different roles—spiritual seeker, English teacher, student of Chinese, girlfriend, artist, and daughter—and continually asked myself: Why am I called to make this journey”

    I met Anne through this book club and also invited her to read at the bookstore where I used to work. Her reading was thought-provoking and insightful and Anne is wonderful speaker – I know you will all love getting to chat with her during the Author Visit portion of the book club.

    In related, exciting news, HEART RADICAL was recently announced as one of the 2022 Washington State Book Awards finalists in the memoir category.

    I hope you will be able to read along with us this month and make it to the book club – registration details are below. I’m looking forward to sharing HEART RADICAL with you.

    Happy Reading!
    ❤ , Grace

    Date: Saturday, September 24th
    Time: 6 PM PST (UTC-7)
    Author : Anne Liu Kellor
    Book: Heart Radical: A Search For Language, Love, And Belonging

    Please register in advance for this session at:

    Even if you have attended a previous Boarding Pass Book Club, this is a new Zoom meeting, specific for the upcoming book club, so you will need to register again.
    After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.


    Wanting to understand how her path is tied to her mother tongue, Anne, a young, multiracial American woman, travels through China, the country of her mother’s birth. Along the way, she tries on different roles—seeker, teacher, student, girlfriend, artist, and daughter—and continually asks herself: Why do I feel called to make this journey?

    Whether witnessing a Tibetan sky burial, teaching English at a university in Chengdu, visiting her grandmother in LA, or falling in love with a Chinese painter, Anne is always in pursuit of intimacy with others, even as she is all too aware of her silences and separation. For two years, she settles into a comfortable routine in her boyfriend’s apartment and regains fluency in Chinese, a language she spoke as a young child but has used less and less as an adult. Eventually, however, her desire to know herself in other ways surfaces again. She misses speaking English, she feels suffocated by urban, polluted China, and she starts to fall for another man. Ultimately, Anne realizes that to live her truth as a mixed-race, bilingual woman she must embrace all of her influences and layers. In a world that often wants us to choose a side or fit an ideal, she learns that she can both belong and not belong wherever she is, and that home is ultimately found within.


    Photo of Anne Liu Kellor from her website

    Learn more about Anne on her website:

    Anne Liu Kellor is a mixed-race Chinese American writer, editor, and teacher based in Seattle. Her essays have appeared in YES! Magazine, Longreads, Fourth Genre, Witness, New England Review, Entropy, The Normal School, Los Angeles Review, Literary Mama, and many more. She earned her MFA from Antioch University Los Angeles, and is the recipient of fellowships from Hedgebrook, The Seventh Wave, Jack Straw Writers Program, 4Culture, and Hypatia-in-the-Woods. Anne teaches writing workshops and leads writing retreats across the Pacific Northwest. She also facilitates a year-long creative nonfiction manuscript program for womxn seeking mentorship and community.