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Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers by Jesse Q. Sutanto is a delightful cozy mystery that brims with humor and heart while introducing an unforgettable lead character.

The titular Vera leads a quiet life. She runs a tea shop in San Francisco’s Chinatown that rarely sees customers and spends her days cyberstalking her son, who often ignores her calls. Vera’s routine is disrupted when she discovers a corpse in her store. She springs into action—outlining the body with a Sharpie, just like she’s seen on TV; tidying up her shop and making tea to impress the police; and most notably, swiping a flash drive from the dead man, Marshall Chen. She’s not sure the police will take his death (which is clearly a murder, to her “CSI”-trained eyes) seriously. So Vera uses the information on the flash drive to identify four suspects: Oliver, Marshall’s brother; Julia, Marshall’s widow; and Sana and Riki, who claim to be journalists investigating the suspicious death. All four have something to hide, but as Vera investigates, the group comes together in unexpected and surprising ways. Is a killer truly among this newly found family of hers?

Vera is a tour-de-force creation. She’s feisty and meddlesome, with a big imagination and bigger heart. She’s riotously funny, often without trying to be. She spends a great deal of time dispensing tough love and sage advice, and is almost always correct, much to the annoyance of her new friends. Sutanto also delivers well-drawn, memorable secondary characters, particularly Julia and her daughter, Emma. As Vera worms her way into her suspects’ lives and hearts, so, too, will the characters of Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers endear themselves to readers.

The mystery itself is intriguing, with well-placed clues and foreshadowing. Marshall left behind a trail of lies and enemies, but Vera proves herself up to the task of solving his murder. And along the way, she even helps many of his friends and family heal and become better versions of themselves. Sutanto hits all the right notes in this cozy mystery, perfectly blending meddling, murder and found family.

Jesse Q. Sutanto hits all the right notes in Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers, a cozy mystery worth reading for its hilariously meddlesome titular character alone.
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Imagine if you could travel around the world in a single instant. If you began in Australia at 10 a.m. and went to Brazil, it would already be 8 p.m. there! Author Nicola Davies and illustrator Jenni Desmond follow two children on one such magical journey across time zones in One World. Along the way, the pair witness a variety of wild animals and learn about the threats that climate change poses to the creatures.

As the book opens, two children huddle together in a blanket fort in their Greenwich, U.K., bedroom, using a flashlight to look at a book. A clock on the wall shows that the time is about 11:45 p.m. Davies offers a brief, helpful introduction to the concept of time zones, then, as midnight arrives, whisks the pair out their bedroom window and off to Svalbard, Norway. There, it’s 1 a.m., and a family of polar bears are hunting for seals.

With each stroke of midnight back in Greenwich, readers instantly travel to a new time zone, where they discover a new species. At 8 a.m. in the Philippines, we see whale sharks “gulping plankton into mouths the size of trash cans.” We visit a mob of kangaroos at 10 a.m. in the scorching Australian Outback, marvel at emperor penguins at noon in Antarctica and more. Every spread discusses dangers to habitats, such as pesticides and deforestation, or protections needed, including anti-poaching measures and the development of alternative energy sources. Davies is careful to depict both the harmful and helpful impacts that humans can have.

The two children, one wearing a yellow nightgown with blue bunny slippers and the other clad in red- and white-striped pajamas, are keen observers. They hang upside down with a sloth in Ecuador, nestle in the petals of a wildflower in California and float alongside humpback whales in the ocean near Hawaii. Their bright clothing ensures that they stand out in every scene.

After soaring over plastic-filled seas and a brightly lit metropolis, the children return home. It’s the first hour of Earth Day, and Davies urges readers to “think of all the wonders that we’ve seen,” then “shout them out . . . and tell the sleepers to WAKE UP because tomorrow is already here.” Filled with informative prose and stunning art, One World delivers on its creative concept and leaves readers with not only a sense of awe at our planet’s remarkable biodiversity but also newfound feelings of respect and responsibility.

This book leaves readers with not only a sense of awe at our planet’s remarkable biodiversity but also newfound feelings of respect and responsibility.

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