Tony Brasunas Finds Happiness in China

An Alameda author puts a year of teaching English to ninth-graders and traveling China in perspective.

Double Happiness

By Tony Brasunas (Torchpost Creative, 2013, $15.95, 332 pp.)

Take a trip to the Middle Kingdom of China with Alameda-based author Tony Brasunas as your guide in this memoir-travel tome about his experience as a 22-year-old teaching English to ninth-graders at Peizheng High School. Brasunas is there in 1997, before the interconnectedness of the Internet, when “the motives of Americans in particular were suspect.” He recounts perils, adventures, and romances of his solo journey, outlined on a hand-drawn map of China with a key denoting his path by train, bus, hitchhiking, and bike. The delightful short chapters read like short stories. Two trips back and 15 years later, Brasunas pulls it altogether for a retrospective that deftly and lovingly depicts the country responsible for his personal spiritual awakening.


Cold Trail

By Janet Dawson (Perseverance Press, 2015, $15.95, 216 pp.)

Cold Trail is East Bay author Janet Dawson’s 11th mystery involving Oakland private investigator Jeri Howard. In this latest installment, Howard heads north to Sonoma and Marin counties to solve the mystery of her brother’s disappearance. It’s a very California mystery, more or less starring Graton and its apple orchards, with major marijuana cultivation ruining public forestland, a charred body found on a boat, and a sibling whose familial façade may very well be a lie, since his marriage and workplace matters appear tattered. Police zero in on the brother as a suspect, and the plucky, up-in-everyone’s-business PI must race the clock to solve the mystery. Lots of dialogue, lots of local color, lots to enjoy.


The Guilty One

By Sophie Littlefield (Gallery Books, 2015, $16, 320 pp.)

Prepare yourself for a little dark fiction. If a man murdered your daughter, and then his guilt-stricken father contemplated atonement by jumping to his death from the Golden Gate Bridge at your command, what would you do? Would you urge him to jump? Try to talk him down? That’s the premise of this book in which Maris, a somewhat overindulged suburban Bay Area mom, has control over the fate of the man, Ron, who spawned her daughter’s murderer. As Maris ponders this situation, she must contemplate loss, retribution, and forgiveness just as her own marriage is dissolving. The author writes in the mystery, romance, women’s fiction, and young adult genres.