For a Good Cause

Entrepreneur starts m.andonìa for the greater good
By Jordan Houston

To say Maria Argyropoulos loves her pop-up, designer handbag shop, is an understatement. 

“We loved the space, we loved the people, and we loved the area,” she says. “So, we stayed — that was a year ago.”

Sitting in One Colorado at 15 Douglas Alley in Pasadena, m.andonìa is redefining the meaning of “pop up.” The store — with its locally made purses, jewelry and accessories, many of which are sourced in DTLA — opened in November 2020 and is planning on staying in One Colorado for several more months. 

Argyropoulos’ bags are designed, hand sewn, manufactured and shipped out of her parents’ 30-year-old Burbank-based facility Golden Fleece Designs Inc. Argyropoulos ships around the world to clients who have included Halle Berry, Drew Barrymore, Jennifer Aniston and Tyra Banks.

M.andonìa bags range from small evening bags to totes and overnight bags. The 2021 collection features chain crossbody bags emphasizing colorful patterns, such as zebra prints and yellow formals, while the best-selling crossbody is marked by a modern Evil Eye. The bags are also frequently embellished with Swarovski crystals and lamination.

“When a customer sees a finished product like what we have, I don’t think they expect that it is locally made,” Argyropoulos says. 

The designer noted that she doesn’t rely heavily on trends, drawing inspiration from around the globe. Argyropoulos frequently scours European fabric mills and vintage stores in the United States to find the perfect combination of materials to create her vibrant, edgy, fresh and funky pieces. 

“We have a little bit of everything, it’s a bit of a mix,” Argyropoulos says. “It’s not full vintage, but you can tell there is that little edge to it.” 

The brand, according to the designer, caters to those who want to stand out from the norm and dare to be noticed. 

“What I like about what we do is we offer a unique item and it’s for the woman who wants to be different,” Argyropoulos says.  “We’re not a huge brand label that is plastered all over the billboards and in mass department stores, so when someone comes in here, they’re buying something unique.

“To buy unique, you feel unique, you are unique and you are just different. It’s not like you are wearing somebody else’s same bag because of the label.”

Argyropoulos’ fashion know-how stems from her degree in graphic design from Cal State Northridge and her graduate studies at the renowned Studio Art Centers International in Florence, Italy. She ran with her potential after she made a handbag from a vintage placemat. 

“Everything started off with one-of-a-kind vintage inspo and retro design,” Argyropoulos explains. “We were picking out vintage fabrics or dresses and cutting them up and doing handbags. We couldn’t meet the demand because everybody wanted one. I could only do a few at a time because of materials.”

Her eye for craftsmanship dates back to 1936 when her family opened its first leather goods factory in Athens. Argyropoulos largely attributes her taste and success to her mother, she says. 

“I couldn’t do it without her, she is extremely passionate about manufacturing and staying local — as am I,” she says. 

Shortly after opening the pop-up location in Pasadena, Argyropoulos pivoted to help the nation. 

Proceeds of all sales benefit nonprofits like Philoptochos of Pasadena, Armenia Fund, Junior League and Soroptimist.

In partnership with her parents’ company, Argyropoulos launched Masks for a Cause, which donates one mask per sale to those working on the frontlines, such as first responders, grocery store workers, restaurant employees and homeless shelters. 

“The giving back was really important,” she says. “I felt like at one point I was billing orders for the entire country and trying to donate to as many facilities as possible. We did quite a bit, we were giving thousands away. That was the most rewarding part.

“To see the health care workers show up at your door and give a huge bag of inventory to them, and to the homeless shelters and nursing home — to anybody who needed it.” 

All masks, which are priced on average at $9, are compliant with the personal protection equipment (PPE) guidelines.

The face masks “are fun, mood lifting fabrics to get us through these volatile times,” featuring patterns of all colors and shapes to cater to a variety of tastes and desires. 

As far as m.andonìa, locals can expect to see new items hit the shelves soon. Argyropoulos teased the upcoming collection as a crowd-pleaser, with loud colors, creative prints and one-of-a-kind designs. 

“There’s a lot of one-of-a-kinds and that’s where I have fun,” she says. 


15 Douglas Alley, Pasadena

Masks for a Cause

Vroman’s Live

Bookstore boasts stellar lineup for January
By Arroyo Staff

The renowned bookstore Vroman’s is hosting more top-notch virtual programs throughout January.

The “Vroman’s Live” events are held virtually. Register through Anyone with questions is asked to send an email to

Vroman’s Live presents Gina Apostol discussing “Biblioepsy”

6 p.m. Thursday, January 6

Gina Apostol’s debut novel, available for the first time in the United States, tells of a young woman caught between a lifelong desire to escape into books and a real-world revolution.

It is the mid-’80s, two decades into the kleptocratic, brutal rule of Ferdinand Marcos. The Philippine economy is in deep recession, and civil unrest is growing by the day. But Primi Peregrino has her own priorities: tracking down books and pursuing romantic connections with their authors.

For Peregrino, the nascent revolution means that writers are gathering more often, and with greater urgency, so that every poetry reading she attends presents a veritable “Justice League” of authors for her to choose among. As the Marcos dictatorship stands poised to topple, Peregrino remains true to her fantasy: that she, “a vagabond from history, a runaway from time,” can be saved by sex, love and books. 

Leonard Mlodinow discusses “Emotional: How Feelings Shape Our Thinking”

7 p.m. Tuesday, January 11

We make hundreds of decisions every day, from what to eat for breakfast to how we should invest, and not one of those decisions would be possible without emotion. It has long been said that thinking and feeling are separate and opposing forces in our behavior. But Leonard Mlodinow, the best-selling author of “Subliminal,” says extraordinary advances in psychology and neuroscience have proven that emotions are as critical to our well-being as thinking.

How can we connect better with others? How can we make sense of our frustration, fear and anxiety? What can you do to live a happier life? The answers lie in understanding your emotions. Journeying from the labs of pioneering scientists to real-world scenarios that have flirted with disaster, Mlodinow shows us how our emotions can help, why they sometimes hurt, and what we can learn in both instances.

Using deep insights into our evolution and biology, Mlodinow gives us the tools to understand our emotions better and to maximize their benefits. Told with his characteristic clarity and fascinating stories, “Emotional” explores the new science of feelings and offers us an essential guide to making the most of one of nature’s greatest gifts. 

Ticket includes one copy of “Emotional.”

Xochitl Gonzalez discusses “Olga Dies Dreaming”

7 p.m. Thursday, January 13

It’s 2017, and Olga and her brother, Pedro “Prieto” Acevedo, are boldfaced names in their hometown of New York. Prieto is a popular congressman representing their gentrifying Latino neighborhood in Brooklyn, while Olga is the tony wedding planner for Manhattan’s power brokers.

Despite their alluring public lives, behind closed doors things are far less rosy. Sure, Olga can orchestrate the love stories of the 1% but she can’t seem to find her own — until she meets Matteo, who forces her to confront the effects of long-held family secrets.

Olga and Prieto’s mother, Blanca, a Young Lord turned radical, abandoned her children to advance a militant political cause, leaving them to be raised by their grandmother. Now, with the winds of hurricane season, Blanca has come barreling back into their lives.

Set against the backdrop of New York City in the months surrounding the most devastating hurricane in Puerto Rico, Xochitl Gonzalez’s “Olga Dies Dreaming” examines political corruption, familial strife and the very notion of the American dream — all while asking what it really means to weather a storm.

Ticket includes one copy of “Olga Dies Dreaming.” 

Emily Levesque discusses “The Last Stargazers: The Enduring Story of Astronomy’s Vanishing Explorers”

6 p.m. Friday, January 14

Starting with the earliest civilizations, humans have craned their necks each night, using the stars to orient themselves in the large, strange world around them. Stargazing is a pursuit that continues to fascinate us: from Copernicus to Carl Sagan, astronomers throughout history have spent their lives trying to answer the biggest questions in the universe. 

Now, award-winning astronomer Emily Levesque shares the stories of modern-day stargazers in this new nonfiction release, the people willing to adventure across high mountaintops and to some of the most remote corners of the planet, all in the name of science.

From the lonely quiet of midnight stargazing to tall tales of wild bears loose in the observatory, “The Last Stargazers” is a love letter to astronomy and an affirmation of the crucial role that humans can and must play in the future of scientific discovery.

In this sweeping work of narrative science, Levesque shows how astronomers in this scrappy and evolving field are going beyond the machines to infuse creativity and passion into the stars and space and inspires us all to peer skyward in pursuit of the universe’s secrets. 

Ticket includes a copy of “The Last Stargazers.”

Vroman’s Live presents Barbara F. Walter discusses “How Civil Wars Start: And How to Stop Them”

6 p.m. Tuesday, January 18

Political violence rips apart several towns in southwest Texas. A far-right militia plots to kidnap the governor of Michigan and try her for treason. An armed mob of Trump supporters and conspiracy theorists storms the U.S. Capitol. Are these isolated incidents? Or is this the start of something bigger? Barbara F. Walter has spent her career studying civil conflict in places like Iraq and Sri Lanka, but now she has become increasingly worried about her own country.

Perhaps surprisingly, autocracies and healthy democracies are largely immune from civil war; it’s the countries in the middle ground that are most vulnerable. And this is where more and more countries, including the United States, are finding themselves.

Over the last two decades, the number of active civil wars around the world has almost doubled. Walter reveals the warning signs — where wars tend to start, who initiates them, what triggers them — and why some countries tip over into conflict while others remain stable. Drawing on the latest international research and lessons from over twenty countries, Walter identifies the crucial risk factors, from democratic backsliding to factionalization and the politics of resentment. A civil war today won’t look like America in the 1860s, Russia in the 1920s, or Spain in the 1930s. It will begin with sporadic acts of violence and terror, accelerated by social media. It will sneak up on us and leave us wondering how we could have been so blind.

In this urgent book, Walter redefines civil war for a new age, providing the framework we need to confront the danger we now face — and the knowledge to stop it before it’s too late. 

Vroman’s Live presents Mike Sielski, in conversation with John Gonzalez, discussing “The Rise: Kobe Bryant and the Pursuit of Immortality”

6 p.m. Thursday, January 20

Kobe Bryant’s death in January 2020 did more than rattle the worlds of sports and celebrity. The tragedy of that helicopter crash, which also took the life of his daughter, Gianna, unveiled the full breadth and depth of his influence on our culture, and by tracing and telling the oft-forgotten and lesser-known story of his early life, “The Rise” provides an insight into Bryant that no other analysis has.

In “The Rise,” readers will travel from the neighborhood streets of Southwest Philadelphia — where Bryant’s father, Joe, became a local basketball standout — to the Bryant family’s isolation in Italy, where Bryant spent his formative years, to the leafy suburbs of Lower Merion, where Bryant’s legend was born. 

The story will trace his career and life at Lower Merion. He led the Aces to the 1995-1996 Pennsylvania state championship, a dramatic underdog run for a team with just one star player — and the run-up to the 1996 NBA draft, where Bryant’s dream of playing pro basketball culminated in his acquisition by the Los Angeles Lakers.

In researching and writing “The Rise,” Sielski had access to a series of unreleased interviews during his senior season and early days in the NBA. For a quarter century, these tapes and transcripts preserved Bryant’s thoughts, dreams and goals from his teenage years.

Dale Maharidge, in conversation with Tom Zoellner, discusses “Burn Coast”

7 p.m. Friday, January 21

Earthquake-rattled and clinging to the thousand-foot cliffs of the Northern California coast, McGee Ridge is nestled in one of a very few truly wild places left in the Lower 48. It is also home to a band of off-grid outlaws who vanished behind the famed Redwood Curtain in the 1960s, and whose time there is swiftly coming to an end.

Will Spector, a burned-out journalist for the LA Times, arrived here to build a wilderness cabin for himself in the ’90s, after spending a decade as a war correspondent. In a community that subsists mainly off illegal cannabis farming, Will is an outlier. As is Zoë Vanderlip, the revered matriarch of the original ’60s settlers, whose adult son Klaus is one of the largest growers in the region. 

Unlike nearly everyone else, neither Will nor Zoë has grown marijuana, but when Zoë suddenly goes missing from her home — a large hand-built structure known as the Ark — the industry’s competing forces can no longer be ignored.

Pairing up with Daniel Likowski, a principled but mysterious grower whose business has been crushed by legalization, Will finds himself swept into a world of lost idealism and desperate loners, mobsters and corporate shell companies, violence and hypocrisy, all operating beneath the canopy of an ancient forest teetering at the very edge of the continent. Spurned on both by his journalistic zeal and a strange love for the place and its people, Will’s investigation is a journey to understand not just what happened to Zoe, but all of them.

In this atmospheric rural noir, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Dale Maharidge’s debut novel plunges readers into a country that has existed for decades beyond the bounds of America-at-large, but nevertheless reflects the essential conflicts of our divided culture.

Ticket includes one copy of “Burn Coast.”

Vroman’s Live presents Marie Rutkoski, in conversation with Leigh Bardugo, discusses “Real Easy?

6 p.m. Thursday, January 27

It’s 1999 and Samantha has danced for years at the Lovely Lady strip club. She’s not used to mixing work and friendship. After all, between her jealous boyfriend and his young daughter, she has enough on her plate. But the newest dancer is so clueless that Samantha feels compelled to help her learn the hustle and drama of the club: how to sweet-talk the boss, fit in with the other women, and make good money. One night, when the new girl needs a ride home, Samantha agrees to drive: a simple decision that turns deadly.

Georgia, another dancer drawn into the ensuing murder and missing person investigation, gathers information for Holly, a grieving detective determined to solve the case. Georgia just wants to help, but her involvement makes her a target. As Holly and Georgia round up their suspects, the story’s point of view shifts between dancers, detectives, children, club patrons — and the killer.

Drawing on her experience as a former dancer, Marie Rutkoski immerses us in the captivating world of the club, which comes alive with complicated people trying their best to protect themselves and those they love.  

Vroman’s Local Author Day featuring Robert Abad, Dr. Ian Brooks and Gregory Deinzer

6 p.m. Monday, January 31

Robert Abad presents “Moment”

It’s easy for children to develop preconceived notions about the world and other people based on simply what they see and hear in their immediate surroundings. “Moment” aims to dispel such biases and misconceptions by presenting young readers with over 100 images of places, faces and landscapes from around the “emerging world.”

“Moment” is a unique resource that educators and librarians can integrate into their global study lessons and that parents can use with their children to explore the rich cultural diversity that exists in the great wide world.

Dr. Ian Brooks presents “Intention”

“Intention” provides a step-by-step guide in transforming your story, by reinforcing and building new capabilities to move forward. if you’re ready to:

• Prioritize who you are in understanding your stories characters, its set, and script that influence you

• Explore beyond your immediate reasons for change to reflect on your wants

• Take manageable action for something new, while adjusting old habit

• Build capabilities to manage changes for an unknown future

Gregory Deinzer presents “The Path We Follow”

“The old man breathed heavily as he and Neel rested beneath a rocky overhang on the mountain trail. Eight hours of climbing and they were not even halfway to the temple. The others were right, thought Neel. We should have waited for better weather. How did this day get so off track, when it started out so hopefully?”

Hitting a Milestone

College Women’s Club of Pasadena recalls 100 years
By Annika Tomlin

The College Women’s Club of Pasadena persevered through The Great Depression, World War II and several other country- and world-defining moments to reach its recent centennial celebration.

“This organization was created by a group of Cal Tech wives of the professors not even one year after women got the right to vote,” says Kathy LaRussa, the club’s publicity and social media chair.

“Their goal was to have a club where they could meet and discuss intelligent topics, educate themselves further and raise a little money so that they could offer scholarships to local young women in local universities and colleges.”

A three-year club member, LaRussa says the scholarships are the “heart and soul” of the organization.

“We, in partnership with Pasadena Community Foundation, have gone from a $100 fund to an over $2 million endowment and we are still dedicated to awarding scholarships to young women,” LaRussa says. 

The club initially partnered with Pasadena Community Foundation in 2016.

“That was really a significant event for us because their investment support really kickstarted our financial growth to give us this base,” LaRussa says.

“A $2 million endowment is a solid endowment. At this point, we have given out $1.1 million to 600 recipients since we were founded in 1921.”

During the past century, the organization has seen a slew of political and social changes all while staying true to its cause: encouraging and supporting women’s educational endeavors. 

“The organization is still here because the mission has not changed in 100 years,” says Rozanne Child, current club president in a video celebrating the club’s 100 years. 

“The women who started the College Women’s Club valued education and they knew how important it was.”

College Women’s Club of Pasadena celebrated its centennial at the Altadena Town and Country Club with more than 90 guests and dignitaries from the surrounding colleges and universities. The celebration included a tea service along with archival photos and documents woven into a 12-minute video.

“We had been working for 18 months on the creation of a video that talks about the club,” LaRussa says. 

The club acquired handwritten minutes, documents and photos from the Pasadena Historical Society to create the video.

“We screened that for our members, and they were very thrilled by it and very touched by it,” LaRussa says.

During the video, past club president Ann Kimball said, “When (the club) was started, it was a really noble mission because education was not considered that important. These women decided that women deserve the same advantages that the men have had.

“I think it continues today. It’s not a completely equal society by any means, but the mission of this group is to help women.”

A look back

“In 1923, our president was Greta Millikan,” LaRussa says. “Her husband was the president of Cal Tech and he won a Nobel Prize the same year that she was president.

“That (same year) was when they voted to start the actual $100 amount in the scholarship fund to move forward.”

In celebration of the 100 years, LaRussa says members perused boxes of archival documents.

“December 8, 1941, we held a meeting the morning after Pearl Harbor and we have the minutes from that meeting, which opened by singing ‘The Star-Spangled Banner,’” LaRussa says. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the club halted in-person meetings in 2020, and only resumed outdoor or online meetings this year. They struggled to find a location for their meetings because their former location, the Blinn House, was being renovated. 

“Another challenge is that we are trying hard to increase our membership because it has dwindled,” LaRussa admits. “Now we also offer to our scholarship winners a year’s free membership into the club.

“We want to get young members to carry on the traditions of over 100 years of supporting women in education. We are trying to grow and change with the times to attract younger members and get our name out there as an organization that helps the community and does good things.”

Membership information is available at the club’s website. The dues are $5 to join and a $60 yearly due that goes directly to the scholarship foundation.

“We have no other requirements, just that they have a good time with us and hopefully come to our meetings and being on the board or volunteering whatever part of the organization they might be interested in,” LaRussa says. 

“Our scholarship committee is a very important part of our club. So, we are always looking for volunteers because we have a process that we go through with the Pasadena Community Foundation of a rubric that helps us vet scholarship candidates.”

LaRussa says that during her first meeting, the group awarded scholarships. She found the winners’ stories “mind boggling.”

“We had one winner who has four children, one is a special needs child, is working full time, cares for her own elderly parents and is still going back to school to get her PhD,” LaRussa says. “It just amazes me how important education is that I agree with that philosophy.

“Women just need support from other women at times who’ve been through it. Who knows what it is to take care of a house, take care of kids, work a job and still push forward to grow and to educate yourself and to better yourself. Every one of our scholarship winners has a story just like that at some level.”

LaRussa says she enjoys hearing the other members’ stories, which include working a doughnut dolly in the Vietnam War, being in the Peace Corps, and rallying for political and social change in the 1960s.

“Sometimes as women age as we all age, we stop looking at them as people and we don’t look at who they were and what they contributed to the world,” LaRussa said. “This organization allows us to encourage young women but also appreciate the women in our club for who they are and the differences that they’ve made.”

Starting Anew

Pittance unveils 2022 season of opera chamber music
By Bridgette M. Redman

Opera, by its very nature, is typically done on a grand scale. Singers command large stages supported by choruses spread out behind them. Full orchestras perform hidden away in pits while providing sweeping music.

The Pittance Chamber Music seeks to bring a more focused look at opera by scaling its music down to chamber-size performances. Since 2013, artistic director Lisa Sutton — who is also the assistant concertmaster of the Los Angeles Opera Orchestra — has been arranging small concerts featuring musicians from the orchestra and vocalists from the LA Opera Chorus and the LA Opera Young Artists Program. 

Now, after more than a year of pandemic silence, they have announced a new season in a new venue, bringing concerts designed to personalize opera and give audiences a more intimate view of the artists who create it.

While their seasons normally begin with concerts in the fall, this season was delayed by COVID-19 issues so their first show will be in January.

“We are all part of the Los Angeles Opera, we’re a group that is bound together by that common thread,” Sutton says. “I like to shine the spotlight on the orchestra. During the opera, they’re down in the pit. They’re heard, but not seen.”

Two of the three concerts in the 2022 season were planned for 2021 and had to be canceled.

“The artists were so disappointed that we couldn’t do them, so I said we’d do them when we come back,” Sutton says.

The upcoming season is:

Theresa Dimond and Friends: 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, January 22

The first concert of the year takes a deep dive into the pit — landing in the percussion section. Hosted by the LA Opera Orchestra’s principal percussionist and UCLA lecturer Theresa Dimond, the program features a wide-ranging repertoire performed by musicians from the percussion, woodwind and string sections of the orchestra.

Ingolf Dahl: “Concerto a Tre for Clarinet, Violin and Cello”

Arvo Pärt: “Spiegel Im Spiegel (Cello and Marimba)”

Nathan Daugherty: “Burn 3 for Flute, Clarinet and Marimba”

Barbara Kolb: “Homage to Keith Jarrett and Gary Burton (Flute and Marimba)”

Gerard Lecointe: “Point Bak (Mallet Ensemble)”

“The Lyric Oboe:” 7:30 p.m. Saturday, February 26

The second concert features LA Opera Orchestra principal oboist Leslie Reed, pianist Edith Orloff and members of the LA Opera Orchestra, in a recital program of favorite works that reflect the lyric side of the oboe, ranging from the pastoral to folk traditions, including works inspired by famous paintings.

Saint-Saens: “Sonata for Oboe and Piano”

Gilles Silvestrini: “Etudes for Oboe” inspired by the paintings of Boudin, Monet, Renoir and Manet”

Joseph Horovitz: “Quartet for Oboe and Strings”

Gabriel Fauré: “Pièce”

Jacques Ibert: “Escales”

Nino Rota: “Elegia”

Gabriel Pierne: “Serenade”

Alyssa Morris: “Collision Etudes: (Inspired by the paintings of Cassatt, Mitchell, Thomas and O’Keeffe)”

Arnold Bax: “Quintet for Oboe and Strings”

“Liebeslieder!” 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 23

Pittance presents an evening featuring the complete Liebeslieder-Walzer of Johannes Brahms for vocal quartet and piano four hands. Members of the LA Opera Chorus are joined by soprano Elissa Johnston, with LAO conductors Grant Gershon and Jeremy Frank at the keyboard. 

Johannes Brahms: “Liebeslieder-Walzer, Op. 52 and 65”

New venue

This season, the musicians move to First United Methodist Church, which was founded in 1875 and located at 500 E. Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena.

Sutton says that apart from the beautiful acoustics, it is a wonderful venue because the front of the church has a stage or a chancel. It’s spacious enough to accommodate the larger instruments needed for the first concert. 

She says it has a beautiful Steinway grand piano that they’ll use in the third concert.

Sutton played concerts in the space many years ago as a member of the LA Chamber Orchestra and recently returned to hear a colleague’s recital. 

“I remembered how great it was acoustically and how awe-inspiring architecturally,” Sutton says. “You walk in, and it blows you away with the high ceiling and the beauty.”

She is friends with the minister of music, Greg Norton.

“It feels a little bit like a return to the fold with him because I’ve known him for so many years,” Sutton said. “I talked to him about the concert series, and he helped me get that organized. I’m grateful to him for that.”

Percussions take center stage 

Sutton says the stage size made the opening concert possible. At one point, they need four marimbas and a xylophone, which remain on stage for the entire program.

Sutton has wanted to perform this for some time. The lead percussionist, Dimond, is a longtime friend and is a lecturer at UCLA.

“She’s well-equipped to talk to audiences and she does it in a very engaging way,” Sutton says. “She loves to do that and it’s a big part of the concert.”

Sutton says the two of them chose the pieces. Dimond sent her pages of pieces and she listened to all of them. 

“Between the two of us, we figured it out,” Sutton says. “There are certain things you have to take into consideration. I like to see what she wanted to do, and she sent me a list. Then we finessed the personnel. Each group is a good team, compatible personally and artistically.”

Oboist tells stories

In a program that had to be canceled earlier because of the pandemic, Reed designed a concert around the oboe. 

“Leslie Reed is the principal oboe in the LA Orchestra, which is a big position, similar to a concert mistress,” Sutton says. “She had a really wonderful idea about featuring the oboe as a lyric instrument and focusing on historically how it was used as an instrument in the pastoral sense by shepherds.”

Reed wanted to do pieces that were based on famous paintings. Sutton is working out how they might feature those paintings in the concert. 

“She had all this enthusiasm about her program, I just let her go with it,” Sutton says. “I told her, ‘This is your program. You tell me what you want to do.’ She’s never been a featured artist in our program. We’ve had the principal cellist, the principal bass, the principal clarinetist. This is really her turn.”

Vocalists in story cycle

The third concert showcases Brahms’ “Love Song” waltzes performed by a vocal quartet and four hands on a piano.

The concert was the brainchild of Gershon, who was the LA Opera conductor and chorusmaster for many years.

“He’s an amazing pianist and just a delightful human being in every respect,” Sutton says. “These particular pieces are personal favorites of mine. I’ve done one of the books years ago with members of the chorus. Gershon wanted to do the complete cycle. I said, ‘Let’s go for it.’”

Gershon and Frank will sit side-by-side on a Steinway piano and play with four hands. Johnston, who is Gershon’s wife, will sing soprano. Sutton is still lining up the remaining three singers from the LA Opera chorus.

“The music is incredibly stunning,” Sutton says. “They are stunning pieces and lots of fun.”

Live chamber music returns

Sutton hopes audiences are as excited to return as her musicians are. During lockdown, they sometimes were able to get two instrumentalists together to play from across the room.

“They were dying to play, even without an audience,” Sutton says. “Just to be playing music together was a very emotional experience for them. It’s emotional for them to come back and it has been a real awakening for everyone to realize the gift that they have and the gift that they can share.”

She says the venue is very accessible. There are no stairs, and parking is free in the lot next door. 

“It is an opportunity to hear high-quality chamber music in an awe-inspiring historic venue,” Sutton says. “The music is the main thing, but the setting is going to be quite magical.”

Pittance Chamber Music

WHEN: Throughout 2022

WHERE: First United Methodist Church, 500 E. Colorado 

Boulevard, Pasadena

COST: $110 for three-concert subscription; $60 seniors three-concert subscription; single ticket $40; senior single ticket $25 and student rush single ticket $10


The Smell of Success

Lambda Fragrances creates unique handmade scents
By Kamala Kirk

For years, Pasadena residents Gabriella Anaya and Sean Young bought essential oils and other raw ingredients so that they could create homemade fragrances for fun. As the couple experimented with various formulations, they realized they were onto something truly special.

“It started out as a hobby and was inspired by our passion and intrigue for fragrance,” Anaya says. “Sean, our master perfumer, is a polymath who is gifted in different disciplines. He’s also a portrait artist and a fantastic chef, and that process is similar to making a fragrance – you’re creating something from scratch, you need to know ratios, and you need to have a creative mind to be able to put together a great scent. Sean spent a long time blending and making formulations over the years. We created many different fragrances that were quite amazing, so we decided that it was time to share our hobby with the world and we launched Lambda Fragrances last year.”

The founders are high school sweethearts who met through a mutual friend back when Anaya was a student at South Pasadena High School and Young was attending Pasadena High School. The name for the company was inspired by the Lambda symbol used in math and physics. Young, a mathematician and researcher at UCLA with a background in physics, created each fragrance formulation from scratch. Young has a very technical mind but he’s also an artist, so that helped a lot with creating these amazing formulations.

One thing that sets Lambda Fragrances apart from other companies is that its products are made with two simple ingredients, alcohol and fragrance, and are free of fillers and preservatives. In addition to clean formulas, their scents are also long-lasting due to its aging process.

“Part of the reason why our fragrances are long-lasting is because of our curing process,” Anaya says. “We exceed the time that standard fragrance houses age their perfume. Everything is based on perfect timing, when we add in the raw ingredients and the alcohol, it is done with our proprietary aging process in mind. Each fragrance is really unique.”

The formulas are available in two unisex scents, a cologne for men and a perfume for women, although Anaya points out that the cologne can be enjoyed by women as well.

“We specialize in unisex fragrances that can be worn by men and women,” Anaya says. “Our two unisex fragrances are Fireflies and Amberian. Fireflies is a playful green scent with cardamom and a floral profile. It’s very magical, whimsical and cozy. I like to wear it when I’m going to have a busy day because it goes great with that mood. I call Amberian our ‘hippy’ formulation because it’s a relaxing, warm scent with ingredients such as frankincense, amber and sandalwood.”

The most popular scents are Fireflies and Secret Arrangement, a women’s perfume infused with Bulgarian rose, carnations and caramelized tonka beans. 

“I like to describe it as a subtle and modern rose fragrance,” Anaya says. “When I think of an older rose fragrance, I tend to imagine something overpowering, but this is the complete opposite. Customers describe Secret Arrangement as ‘exclusive,’ they say that it smells different that anything they’ve ever smelled before.”

The fourth scent, Mr. Huntington, is a cologne for men that was inspired by the late railroad magnate of Pasadena, Henry Huntington. It features a citrus blend of mandarin and grapefruit accompanied by cardamom seeds, ambergris, sandalwood, cassia and vanilla musk.

“It doesn’t smell like your typical cologne, it’s more of a mature and bold scent,” Anaya says. “But it’s not strong because it has a floral essence with some spice to it.  Mr. Huntington was also a polymath who was gifted in different disciplines. We named the scent after him because he is a landmark of our area and we love Pasadena so much.”

The fragrances are manufactured and distributed locally in Pasadena. Anaya and Young work with local artisans and a supplier who sources all of their raw materials locally. When it comes to creating a new scent, Anaya says that sometimes Sean will start out by picking a few ingredients, while other times it’s based purely on mood or daily inspiration.

“Some fragrances have been inspired by different ideas that just come up, the process is fluid and not always so structured,” Anaya says. “Sometimes it’s mood-related and will depend on what Sean is envisioning at that moment and we’ll pull the various raw ingredients we have together. Currently we have four scents that we’re selling on our website, but we have many more recipes we’re working on.”

Anaya says that she and Young plan to introduce more of the unisex formulations that they’ve been working on over the past year, and they’re also thinking about expanding into a line of accessories and other fragrance products. They also look forward to being carried in stores in the future as well. 

“Sean is into shoemaking from scratch, and we love learning about clothing and fashion, so that’s another idea of ours,” Anaya says. “Next year we’re focused on bringing more recipes to the market and continuing to develop our image. We’re also playing around with the idea of introducing our scents through other fragrance products like incense sticks.”

Lambda Fragrances looks forward to creating more captivating formulas that will bring love and joy to those that wear them, and Anaya and Young are excited to continue their fragrance journey together. 

“Being part of this creative process has made me feel more emotionally connected to the scents,” Anaya says. “It’s like when you look at a painting, you see the hard work, creativity and beauty all at once. I look at fragrances differently now, especially ours. They’re more than just scents – each fragrance has its own story, soul and personality.”

Passionate About Health Care

Jocelyn Ferguson is HMRI’s first chief development officer
By Luke Netzley

At a crucial time when personal health and well-being is paramount, Huntington Medical Research Institutes appointed Jocelyn Ferguson as its chief development officer. 

The newly established position will see Ferguson collaborate with the Pasadena-based biomedical research organization’s senior leadership team, board of directors, and staff to build out its development and communications programs in support of HMRI’s mission.

“Guided by our mission of ‘improving lives through patient-focused scientific research,’ one of the things I want to accomplish is to fully integrate our development, community engagement and communications to create meaningful connections with our community that foster pride in our mission and philanthropic support to accelerate our research,” Ferguson explains. 

“The three primary areas of research at HMRI are neurosciences, neurovascular and cardiovascular research. HMRI has been doing a brain aging study for the past 20 years, researching Alzheimer’s disease. I think so many of us have either family members or friends who are impacted by Alzheimer’s, so trying to better understand this progressive and irreversible disease and its risk factors can impact our community. For cardiovascular research, one aim is to reduce the size of heart attacks in an effort to increase a person’s chances of survival. The research in both of these areas is something I believe will directly benefit our community here in Pasadena.”

As a veteran philanthropy professional, Ferguson brings to HMRI almost 20 years of extensive fundraising experience in the nonprofit sector, with a focus on biomedical research, health care and higher education. Recently, she worked with City of Hope, a not-for-profit biomedical research and medical center in Duarte.

“We are delighted to welcome Jocelyn to our team as CDO,” says Dr. Julia E. Bradsher, president and CEO of HMRI. “Jocelyn’s leadership and proven track record in developing fundraising programs that advance biomedical research, patient care, community health programs, higher education and first-generation college student programs — combined with her passion for everything HMRI does and stands for — make her a perfect match for the role and an invaluable asset as we continue laying the strategic tracks for our future growth and impact.”

In addition to HMRI’s research, Ferguson was drawn to the organization because of its commitment toward educational programs. 

“Two of my passions are higher education and health care, and I believe that everyone deserves access to highly skilled health care, as well as excellent educational opportunities,” Ferguson says.

Ferguson is excited about HMRI’s summer educational programs, when the organization will host its undergraduate research fellowship program as well as its high school STEM program. The latter is open to students in the Pasadena Unified School District, while students in its postdoctoral fellowship program continue to advance their scientific research conducted throughout the year.

“It’s exciting that we are working to inspire the next generation of scientists and physicians,” Ferguson says.

Ferguson’s own higher educational background began with a Bachelor of Arts degree in art history from the University of Washington in Seattle before she attended a Ph.D. program in the same discipline at the University of California at Berkeley.

Though she has a strong love for the arts, Ferguson has been passionate about health care since she was a child visiting her father at work during his time as an oral surgeon, dentist and orthodontist in the U.S. Air Force.

“From the time I was a little girl, I visited my late father at his office at a hospital or in clinic,” Ferguson explains. 

“While in the Air Force, my father had an extensive service population spanning several countries, and he was also involved with the University of Washington School of Dentistry for many years. Those experiences, along with my health care philanthropy, shaped my life and make me feel very comfortable in a medical environment.” 

Outside of work, her love for art and art history drew her to the museums and galleries of Pasadena, particularly the Norton Simon Museum. She also serves on the board of the Junior League of Pasadena, whose goal is to promote and perpetuate social change by providing valuable leadership training and empowering women. 

“Before my father passed, he said, ‘I know your heart is in California, and you have my blessing if you want to return to California,’” Ferguson recalls. “He said, ‘You’re a terrific fundraiser. You should go and do what you love in the place where you love.’ And that’s how I landed here in Southern California.

“Several years ago, I was fundraising in the performing arts, and I made a very conscious decision to transition into higher education and health care philanthropy, which are very near and dear to my heart. I believe in the power of philanthropy to change lives. A $2 million philanthropic investment can accelerate our cardiovascular research leading to breakthrough discoveries impacting millions of people, while a $25,000 gift can fund four undergraduate students in our summer research fellowship program and help to launch the career of a future scientist. For me to be in this position now, I am living out one of my passions, which is to accelerate scientific discoveries via philanthropic investments and see how those innovations are made accessible to people and impact their lives.”

Looking to the future, Ferguson aspires to use her wealth of leadership, fundraising and donor relations expertise to support the mission of HMRI.

Huntington Medical Research Institutes

Removing the Mystery

YogaSix makes the exercise accessible to all

By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski

Erich and Cheri Ehrlich are firm believers in the power of yoga. 

They want to share their enthusiasm and make the exercise accessible to everyone. They do so through their Pasadena studio, YogaSix, which opened in October. 

“YogaSix is modern yoga, which means that we do things just a little bit different here,” Cheri says. “We have our own language format and we don’t use a lot of Sanskrit, which is the name of the pose. 

“We do a lot of cueing from the ground up, ensuring that everyone who’s in the class is able to follow along. If you think about it, if the instructor says downward-facing dog and you’re new to yoga, you have absolutely no idea how to do that. You’re continually just looking around to the others. We take that mystery out of yoga and make it accessible to all regardless of all previous yoga experience.”

With locally owned and operated franchises, YogaSix offers six signature class types from hot and powerful to slow and mindful. Beginner and sculpt classes are also available. 

“We have a computerized lighting system; sound and music are coordinated,” Erich says. “We use sights and sounds and essential oils to give a fully sensory experience that other studios do not offer.

“There are different levels to the heat of our classes as well. Students can opt for traditional hot or less hot classes.”

Y6 101 is for beginners or anyone returning to yoga. The classes help participants develop their strength, flexibility, comfort level and stamina. Like all classes, it is led by trained instructors and, in this case, breathwork is included 

Next up is Y6 Restore, which stresses floor postures in a warmed room to stretch, open and release major muscle groups. Cheri says the class helps improve sleep and reduce pain. 

“This is an active restore class,” Cheri says. “It’s not that passive restorative class where you just lie there. Students are actively engaging their muscles.”

Introspective clients are encouraged to try Y6 Slow Flow, which is said to build confidence and familiarity. In a warmed room, students tap into accessible poses, fluid movement and breath.

“All of our classes are vinyasa based,” Erich says. “They flow. With this class, it’s a slower pace, but students are holding their pose longer. We work on posture.”

Taking it a step further is Y6 Hot. Hydration is necessary for these heated practice rooms; the classes combine yoga postures synched with the students’ breath, a balancing series, and core work.

“This is our only set sequence class,” Cheri says. “Any YogaSix studio you attend, you should have the same experience with this class. The other classes are similar, but the instructors do work on different parts of the body at different times.”

Y6 Power also turns up the heat to 100, helping guests build focus, endurance and flexibility. Cheri says the vinyasa classes have a steady pace that offers breakthroughs in body and mind.

Blending yoga and weight training, Y6 Sculpt & Flow is a warm-up program that ups the heart rate and warms the muscles, before segueing into cross training. High-energy music accompanies the class. 

“We’re combining yoga with weights,” she says. “There are quite a few different places that do that, but here, you’re definitely getting that aerobic workout at the same time.”

Cheri explains that YogaSix is on an aggressive path for expansion. Right now, there are 125 studios throughout the United States on the way to another 400 soon. The Ehrlichs, who previously owned an apparel business, bought their franchise before the COVID-19 pandemic but had to hold off opening for 18 months. 

“We liked the idea of sharing something healthy with the community,” Erich says. “We want to stress health and creating a community.”

Cheri adds, “This was a yoga studio that didn’t make it through the pandemic. This is a really amazing space and the remodel was a smooth process. We had to put in the hot studio that is to YogaSix specifications. We’re excited about just being in this neighborhood and being able to serve Pasadena.”

In the two months, YogaSix has witnessed change already on multiple levels. 

“People hang out afterward and they want to walk and get to know everyone,” Cheri says. “Our instructors are in the room having conversations with the students 15 minutes before class. 

“It’s really a community. The instructor is answering questions and building that rapport. It’s really fun to see that.”

The evolution is evident with the students’ abilities as well, Cheri says. 

“We’ve begun to see differences in our members,” she explains. “It’s truly amazing to see them progress.”

At YogaSix Pasadena — which utilizes a medical-grade sophisticated UV air clean system — the couple says it’s fun to meet yogis who explore the classes and find out where they fit.

“YogaSix prides itself on its energizing schedule,” Erich says. “It starts with basic learning and then the students really get empowered and want more. 

“If you want to follow the exact way the teacher is doing the moves, you can, or you can slow it down. We encourage students to explore our classes.”

Importantly, Cheri adds, there’s no pressure at YogaSix, which attracts clients in their 20s up to her 87-year-old mother.

“You don’t feel like you’re competing with the person next to you,” she explains. “It’s really about the individual accomplishing their personal goal.”

Connecting with Nature

Pasadena author takes a deeper look at trees

By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski

Pasadena author Louise Wannier figures she has taken about 20,000 photos of trees. She loves the trunk patterns and sees an energy in them. 

She shares this love through her book “Tree Spirits,” with which she hopes to inspire creativity and imagination in children. It helps kids see and visualize the world in nonobvious ways and introduces them early to an understanding of their own inner spirit and feelings: key skills for early childhood development and crucial for lifelong success.

“Tree Spirits” opens with, “What do you see when you look up at this tree?” From there, children are introduced to peek-a-boo illustrations by April Tatiana Jackson and Wannier’s photographs. 

The images encourage children to see and connect with nature while the text introduces them to the illustrated animal characters and how they are feeling. From the happy alligator to the sad elephant and curious little mouse, 10 illustrations and text help to develop emotional intelligence, an understanding of their feelings and encourage them to develop empathy.

An artist by trade, Wannier has been in Pasadena since 1964, when she moved here from England. Her father was recruited to work at Cal Tech as a scientist.

Wannier is a creative entrepreneur. She has built four companies and advised many others in different industries: education technology, consumer electronics and publishing, information management software and fashion/ecommerce.

Wannier has had a rich career. She lent her photographs to Barbara Hemphill’s book “Less Clutter More Life.” Wannier also founded the publishing company True Roses Inc.

“Barbara has two more books in the series she wants to do,” Wannier says. “I have a number of friends who have quite interesting stories and books to bring to the market. If I can find someone who wants to help build it, I might do it.”

For “Tree Spirits,” Wannier pulled the photos together first and sent out a “practice book” to children she did not know.

“I got some very nice and helpful feedback,” she says. 

“Writing the words was the hardest part. I write, but I hadn’t written or children’s books. I sat with the images, and I let the words come to me. It took close to nine months to write the words.”

Wannier is hoping to do five volumes of “Tree Spirits.”

“I have them all planned out in my head,” says Wannier, who donates books to classrooms and then arranges readings.

The Pursuit of a Dream

George Ko finds solace as a professional pianist

By Luke Netzley

At a time when the entire world seemed to come to a halt, the pandemic inspired people everywhere to rearrange the hierarchy of needs used to assess what truly matters to them.

Pasadena resident George Ko is no different. He found himself standing at the crossroads of his future. 

Ko grew up in Orange County as a first generation American in his family. His parents were Taiwanese immigrants who moved to the United States in the ’70s and ’80s, and always stressed the importance of creating and taking the opportunities that life can present.

“My mom wanted to be a concert pianist growing up. They were so poor she borrowed chalk and then drew all 88 keys on the floor and just imagined what piano would sound like.”

Ko began playing the piano as a child, performing in competitions, and attending weekly piano lessons in Pasadena. He hated it at the time and would even run away from his piano bench. As he continued to play, however, he steadily reached prodigy status. By high school, he had been mentored by pianist pedagogue Cosmo Buono, performed in famous venues like Carnegie Hall, playing in the footsteps of the masters, and had finally begun to feel happy playing the piano.

“Cosmo Buono was the first piano mentor I’d ever met who talked about mental health in the piano world,” Ko says. “He was an advocate not just for me as a piano player, but me as a person. His business partner Barry Alexander is another one of those kinds of people and I’m indebted to both of them.”

After enjoying early success as a young pianist, Ko went on to study economics at Harvard and entered the world of venture capital, taking after his entrepreneurial father. He and two fellow co-founders worked on one of the first Harvard-backed startups and were even featured in the Boston Globe, but it wasn’t meant to be.

“It failed spectacularly, and I was depressed. There was a lot riding on us and a lot of pressure to succeed,” Ko says of the experience, “Then I went to listen to a concert, and they were playing my favorite symphony. A light bulb went off in my head and I said, ‘I want to be a musician.’”

Ko decided to drop out of school to study music for a year, returning to Los Angeles and conducting privately at the Colburn School and with former music director of the Pasadena Symphony, Jorge Mester. He eventually returned to Harvard and majored in music. After graduation, Ko toured as a classical concert pianist for a year and a half.

“I found myself in the classical world, and I was super alone. As a classical pianist, you don’t really have an entourage. When you’re backstage, it’s just you, and the pressure to perform is so high that sometimes you don’t even want people next to you. It just becomes very isolationist, and it’s incredibly competitive.”

This pressure and competitiveness became so unbearable that at one point, Ko recounts, there had been several attempts to try and take his concerts away from him and someone even tried to break his hand so that he could not perform.

“I wasn’t happy, and I couldn’t make music anymore. It just felt dead, so I left that world.”

Ko found solace in the world of media and technology, co-founding a company in Sawtelle with Eric Nakamura, founder of Giant Robot magazine, that supported creatives and artists as well as helped uplift members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. He then went on to work at a robotics startup and took a job at Caltech. 

The COVID-19 outbreak changed his life and the lives of so many others around the world. During the pandemic, Ko took an introspective look at himself and what he wanted from his life.

“I did miss playing the piano, but I knew I didn’t want to play classical anymore. I believe classical musicians are the best cover artists of all time, like people today can play Beethoven better than Beethoven played his own music. That’s the level music has gotten to. You can go to a concert hall and listen to someone play Brahms with the most perfect high-fidelity technique. When you can appreciate it at that level, it’s like, ‘Wow, I’m witnessing magic.’ But then as a creative, I think, ‘It’s not my music. I’m still telling Beethoven or Chopin’s story.’ I wanted to tell my story my way.”

Though he was playing the piano once more, something felt different. It was this change in mindset that began to mold Ko into a classical improvisation pianist. 

“I always wanted to improvise like a jazz player, to play what was in my head. People forget that until Mahler, so until the late 1800s, almost every classical composer improvised, and no concert was the same. No concert had repeat pieces and if you heard Chopin, Beethoven, or Brahms play at a salon, they always improvised. I desperately wanted that skill.”

During the pandemic, Ko’s past colleague Nakamura reached out to him and asked if he would play weekly meditative music on his Instagram profile for the Giant Robot community. Ko agreed, and while he was performing the audience was able to send him song requests. In order to accommodate the requests of the audience, Ko began to improvise his music on the spot. 

“That training triggered something in my brain. After about two months of doing that, I started noticing that I could begin to auditorily visualize the entire instrumental arrangement to a song in my head and make sense of where it was on the piano.”

As this new form of performance gradually became instinct, Ko decided that he was going to record a 12-track album and share the process online. He began performing his music on social media platforms like Instagram and Clubhouse and gradually grew his fan base.

“All of these artists I’ve admired my entire life would reach out to me over Instagram, and one even said, ‘We haven’t been able to go to live concerts in so long, so we just put your phone next to a bowl and I had dinner with my husband while watching you play the piano.’”

Ko gained a large online following with fans listening from across several continents through his social media accounts, and as parts of the world began to reopen following the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, he started a live, in-person tour.

“I want to bring accessibility and show that classic music is meaningful, it’s deep, and it’s fun. And I think one of the most fun things to do is take requests from the audience, like a story or mood, or a song from their favorite Spotify playlist, movie, TV show, or video game, and then improvise it live.”

At the age of 29, Ko has toured the west coast of the United States to the east and all the way back across the country again, with a Holiday Residency at Row DTLA planned for December. On February 1, he will travel across the Atlantic for a week-long residency at the Arctic Hideaway in Fleinvær, Norway, where he will also host workshops with guests and composing a new album. 

While the road to get to this point in his career was not always clearly laid out before him, Ko was brave enough to believe in his passion and purpose, to leave his steady career path and focus instead on the pursuit of what he truly loved. Though the decision at the time was difficult and there were many moments of hardship along the way, Ko can now look back upon what he has achieved so far and smile. He has become a Young Steinway Artist, performed at Carnegie Hall almost a dozen times, given inaugural concerts for the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Bowers Museum, and the Fogg Museum, has performed for the Obama family, been awarded the David McCord Prize from Harvard University in recognition of his musical ability, and is a five-time laureate of the Bradshaw and Buono International Piano Competition.

“Life is beautiful, even if it’s unpredictable. I don’t know what’s going to happen today, but what I do know is that I can live today and strive to get better every day.”

George Ko

Instagram: @_georgeko

Vroman’s Live

Bookstore boasts stellar lineup for December

By Arroyo Staff

The renowned bookstore Vroman’s is hosting more top-notch virtual programs throughout December.

The “Vroman’s Live” events are held virtually through Crowdcast. Register through

All “Vroman’s Presents” events are ticketed and will be held in-person offsite and will have COVID-19 event safety guidelines that need to be followed attend. 

Anyone with questions is asked to email

Lorne M. Buchman discusses “Make to Know: From Spaces of Uncertainty to Creative Discovery”

6 p.m. Thursday, December 2

The creative process is winding. It involves entertaining uncertainty and improvising new paths to knowing. In this book, Lorne M. Buchman, an international leader in art and design education and president of ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, guides readers through stories of a diverse group of artists, entrepreneurs, innovators, and designers. 

Including such luminaries as Yves Béhar, Chris Kraus, Zack Snyder, Paula Scher and Frank Gehry and businesses like Apple and Tesla who have changed the world as we know it, Buchman focuses on the revelatory nature of the creative journey itself.

Michelangelo is said to have seen the angel in the stone and carved away until he set him free. “Make to Know” is about making as a path to knowing — presenting creativity as a “carving away” toward a revelation, not as a fully formed epiphany gleaned from a mysterious ether. 

As Buchman reveals throughout this provocative book, uncertainty is the space where discovery happens and where creators can be both playful and imaginative. 

Vroman’s Local Author Day featuring Robert Smith

Robert Smith presents “Journaling Memories”

6 p.m. Monday, December 6

“Journaling Memories” is a self-help workbook process intended to encourage seniors and others to chronicle the most relevant experiences, thoughts and feelings of their life. The process’ central component is to guide the user in recalling and journaling significant aspects of their life.  

The book guides the user by organizing life milestones and stimulating thought through over 350 questions. 

Van Hoang, in conversation with Katie Zhao, discusses “Girl Giant and the Jade War”

5 p.m. Tuesday, December 7

In this sequel to “Girl Giant and the Monkey King,” Thom and her friends set off on a far-flung adventure to save the Heavens and the Jade Emperor from certain destruction.

Thom Ngoh thought the Monkey King was her friend. He taught her to control her super strength and to stand up for herself. But, really, he was just using her. He tricked her into stealing from the Heavens and releasing him from his 500-year prison. Now the Monkey King is waging a war against the Heavens and Thom must do everything in her power to fix the mess she made.

Determined to prevent a war, Thom and her dragon friend, Kha, set off on an adventure across the Heavens to search for allies. But with the stakes higher than ever, the price for help may be more than Thom is willing to pay.

This richly woven middle-grade fantasy series is full of humor, magic, and heart, and will appeal to readers who love Roshani Chokshi and Sayantani DasGupta. 

Kiley Roache & Chloe Gong present “Killer Content” and “Our Violent Ends”

6 p.m. Thursday, December 9

In “Killer Content,” the six teenagers who make up the Lit Lair have it made. A beachfront mansion, millions of followers, stunning good looks, and sponsorship deals worth more money than they ever dreamed. They live together, making videos about their perfect lives.

Except it’s not so perfect after one of them turns up dead in the infinity pool. When the group TikTok account starts posting cryptic messages, the police stop looking outside the house for suspects — and start looking straight at them. Everyone in the Lit Lair had reasons why their lives would have been easier without Sydney Reynolds. But only one of them killed her.

Underlined is a line of totally addictive romance, thriller and horror titles coming to you fast and furious each month. 

In “Our Violent Ends,” the year is 1927, and Shanghai teeters on the edge of revolution.

After sacrificing her relationship with Roma to protect him from the blood feud, Juliette has been a girl on a mission. One wrong move, and her cousin will step in to usurp her place as the Scarlet Gang’s heir. The only way to save the boy she loves from the wrath of the Scarlets is to have him want her dead for murdering his best friend in cold blood. If Juliette was guilty of the crime Roma believes she committed, his rejection might sting less.

Roma is still reeling from Marshall’s death, and his cousin Benedikt will barely speak to him. Roma knows it’s his fault for letting the ruthless Juliette back into his life, and he’s determined to set things right — even if that means killing the girl he hates and loves with equal measure.

Then a new monstrous danger emerges in the city, and though secrets keep them apart, Juliette must secure Roma’s cooperation if they are to end this threat once and for all. Shanghai is already at a boiling point: The Nationalists are marching in, whispers of civil war brew louder every day, and gangster rule faces complete annihilation. Roma and Juliette must put aside their differences to combat monsters and politics, but they aren’t prepared for the biggest threat of all: protecting their hearts from each other. 

Matt Coyle, in conversation with Naomi Hirahara, discusses “Last Redemption”

6 p.m. Tuesday, December 14

Will Rick Cahill survive an insidious disease long enough to see his first-born child — or will sadistic killers murder him first?

Rick is finally living a settled, happy life. His fiancée, Leah Landingham, is pregnant with their first child and he is doing PI work that pays well and keeps him out of danger. Then a doctor gives him the bad news about the headaches he’s been suffering — CTE, the pro football disease that leads to senility and early death — a secret he keeps from Leah and his best friend Moira MacFarlane.

When Moira asks him to monitor her son, Luke — who’s broken a restraining order to stay away from his girlfriend — a simple surveillance explodes into greed, deceit and murder. Luke goes missing, and Rick’s dogged determination compels him to follow clues that lead to the exploration of high finance and DNA cancer research.

Ultimately, Rick is forced to battle sadistic killers as he tries to find Luke and stay alive long enough to see the birth of his child.