It’s Monday


Happy Monday! And to those in the US, Happy President’s Day. The kids have the day off school today and we are off to do fun things. Hope you had a great weekend.


Some things we did last week…

Played tennis

Ate some Hainanese chicken rice








A Song for a New day – Sarah Pinsker


Ainori: Asian Journey (Netflix)

3 girls and 4 guys (yeah more guys to girls here) take a trip around Asia in a cute pink van and try to find love.




Toasted homemade bread with butter for breakfast




Last night we made sushi for dinner. And had some sashimi too.

Last week:

I read:

Bloodlust and Bonnets – Emily McGovern

The Wedding Party – Jasmine Guillory


I posted:


Library Loot (February 12 to 18)


It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week. This meme started with J Kaye’s Blog   and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date


Library Loot (February 12 to 18)

badge-4Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Sharlene from Real Life Reading that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.


I went to the library on Monday, having skipped last week’s (physical) library visit because of a bad migraine that had me in bed most of the day (luckily the husband was able to work from home and do all the school pickups and drop-offs).

And on Sunday, the 6yo asked me, “Mummy, can you please go to the library tomorrow? We need new books!” What could I do with a request like that except to head to the library to pick up books for them?

Also, of course, some for myself.

Claire has the link-up this week. 

Autumn Light: Season of Fire and Farewells – Pico Iyer

Returning to his longtime home in Japan after his father-in-law’s sudden death, Pico Iyer picks up the steadying patterns of his everyday rites: going to the post office and engaging in furious games of ping-pong every evening. But in a country whose calendar is marked with occasions honoring the dead, he comes to reflect on changelessness in ways that anyone can relate to: parents age, children scatter, and Iyer and his wife turn to whatever can sustain them as everything falls away. As the maple leaves begin to turn and the heat begins to soften, Iyer shows us a Japan we have seldom seen before, where the transparent and the mysterious are held in a delicate balance, and where autumn reminds us to take nothing for granted.

A Song for a New Day – Sarah Pinsker

In the Before, when the government didn’t prohibit large public gatherings, Luce Cannon was on top of the world. One of her songs had just taken off and she was on her way to becoming a star. Now, in the After, terror attacks and deadly viruses have led the government to ban concerts, and Luce’s connection to the world–her music, her purpose–is closed off forever. She does what she has to do: she performs in illegal concerts to a small but passionate community, always evading the law. Rosemary Laws barely remembers the Before times. She spends her days in Hoodspace, helping customers order all of their goods online for drone delivery–no physical contact with humans needed. By lucky chance, she finds a new job and a new calling: discover amazing musicians and bring their concerts to everyone via virtual reality. The only catch is that she’ll have to do something she’s never done before and go out in public. Find the illegal concerts and bring musicians into the limelight they deserve. But when she sees how the world could actually be, that won’t be enough

Empty Hearts – Julie Zeh, translated from the German by John Cullen

A prescient political and psychological thriller ripped from tomorrow’s headlines, by one of Germany’s most celebrated contemporary novelists

A few short years from now, the world is an even more uncertain place than it is today, and politics everywhere is marching rightward: Trump is gone, but Brexit is complete, as is Frexit; there’s a global financial crisis, armed conflict, mass migration, and an ultrapopulist movement governs in Germany. With their democracy facing the wrecking ball, most well-off Germans turn inward, focusing on their own lives. Britta, a wife, mother, and successful businesswoman, ignores the daily news and concentrates on her family and her work running a clinic specializing in suicide prevention.
But her legitimate business is connected to a secret and far more lucrative operation known as The Bridge, an outfit that supplies terrorist organizations looking to employ suicide bombers. Using a complex candidate-identifying algorithm designed by Babak, a brilliant programmer and Britta’s only employee, The Bridge has effectively cornered the market, and terrorism almost never takes place without Britta’s services–which is why news of a thwarted suicide attack in Leipzig comes as a shock. Then The Bridge’s database is stolen and a colleague at the clinic murdered, driving Britta, Babak, and their latest recruit into hiding. On their heels is a new terrorist organization called Empty Hearts, a group unlike any they’ve encountered before.
Part suspenseful thriller, part wickedly effective social satire, Empty Hearts is a novel for our times, examining urgent questions of morality, politics, and culture, and presenting a startling vision of a future where empathy is a thing of the past.


The Threads of the Heart – Carole Martinez, translated from the French by Howard Curtis

They say Frasquita knows magic, that she is a healer with occult powers, that perhaps she is a sorcerer. She does indeed possess a remarkable gift, one that has been passed down to the women in her family for generations. From rags, off-cuts, and rough fabric she can create gowns and other garments so magnificent, so alive, that bestow a breathtaking and blinding beauty on whoever wears them; they are also capable of masking any kind of defect or deformity (and pregnancies!).
But Fasquita’s gift incites others’ jealousy. She is hounded and eventually banished from her home. What follows is an extraordinary adventure as she travels across southern Spain all the way to Africa with her children in tow. Her exile becomes a quest for a better life, for herself and her daughters, whom she hopes can escape the ironclad fate of her family of sorcerers.
Winner of no less than nine literary prizes, a bestseller in France and Italy, and soon to be a major film directed by the author, Carole Martinez’s The Threads of the Heart has won the hearts of hundreds of thousands of readers in Europe. For readers who loved The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende or One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, The Threads of the Heart possesses the lyric beauty of a prose poem and the narrative power of myth and cannot fail to delight


Everything Inside: Stories – Edwidge Danticat

From the internationally acclaimed, best-selling author of Brother, I’m Dying, a collection of vividly imagined stories about community, family, and love.

Rich with hard-won wisdom and humanity, set in locales from Miami and Port-au-Prince to a small unnamed country in the Caribbean and beyond, Everything Inside is at once wide in scope and intimate, as it explores the forces that pull us together, or drive us apart, sometimes in the same searing instant.

In these eight powerful, emotionally absorbing stories, a romance unexpectedly sparks between two wounded friends; a marriage ends for what seem like noble reasons, but with irreparable consequences; a young woman holds on to an impossible dream even as she fights for her survival; two lovers reunite after unimaginable tragedy, both for their country and in their lives; a baby’s christening brings three generations of a family to a precarious dance between old and new; a man falls to his death in slow motion, reliving the defining moments of the life he is about to lose.

This is the indelible work of a keen observer of the human heart–a master at her best.

The kids’ loot:



What did you get from your library this week?


Diverse romances #TopTenTuesday

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is….

It’s a Love Freebie!



Ok it has been far too long since I’ve done one of these. And here I am, on a “freebie” week, talking love. Because for far too long I was the kind who turned up my nose at romance novels. And recently I have grown to love them.

Here are some amazing ones I’ve devoured recently:

Jasmine Guillory’s books

The Wedding Date

The Proposal

The Wedding Party (oops actually I missed out on this one! Off to amend that)

Royal Holiday

Her books are lots of fun, I like how they are connected through a group of friends, for eg in The Wedding Date, Carlos is a secondary character, but he’s the main character in The Proposal. Also the books somehow manage to make me hungry (I wrote a post about how reading Royal Holiday made me crave scones, and so I made some). And that’s always a plus for me.

Helen Hoang’s books

The Kiss Quotient

The Bride Test

The Kiss Quotient was a book that made me sit up as it was probably one of the first steamy romance novels with Asian characters that I had come across. And it was hot! I have to admit that I didn’t like The Bride Test as much but I am still looking forward to more from Hoang.


Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert

Such a cute read by this British author. Hibbert has written a few other books but this was the first of hers I’ve read. And especially unique as its main character has a chronic illness. It was one of those bumbling, fumbling types of romances. Really cute.

Emergency Contact by S.K. Choi

This is a YA book but hey, it’s still a romance, isn’t it? I’m putting it in here as the female character is Korean, and I really liked this one although I’m not its target audience. You can read my thoughts on this book here. 

Ayesha At Last – Uzma Jalaluddin

This is a modern version of Pride and Prejudice which I was a bit hesitant to read because I had read another re-imagining of P&P before this one, and it did not stand up. Also, P&P was one of the books I studied for my English Lit A Levels and so I do know it  (and love it) quite well. But Ayesha At Last was quite satisfying!


What are some diverse romances you’ve enjoyed?

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018.




Library Loot (February 5 to 11)

badge-4Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Sharlene from Real Life Reading that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.


Happy Library Loot day! Don’t forget to link-up below.


My post is rather full of manga this week.



Dreamin’ Sun Vol 1, 2, 3, 4 – Ichigo Takano

I just discovered that Ichigo Takano, who wrote the manga series Orange, which I love, has another series. There’s a total of 10 volumes in this series (which started in Japan in 2008). So I’m looking forward to reading the rest!

Shimana Kameko lives in a home where she feels she doesn’t belong. Her mother is dead, her father has remarried, and her six-month-old baby brother takes up everyone’s attention. Kameko skips school and runs away to a nearby park, where she literally stumbles over a mysterious man in a kimono. The stranger, Fujiwara Taiga, offers Kameko a place to stay — on three conditions. The first condition is that Kameko tell him why she ran away from home. The second is that she fetch the stranger’s lost apartment key (he is locked out!). The third condition is… to have a dream. Kameko meets the conditions, moves in, and begins a journey of romance and self-discovery.


The Adventures of Barry & Joe – Adam Reid

Brothers from different mothers, bromancing history to save us from Trump.

These are the continuing adventures of Barack Obama and Joe Biden, time traveling superheroes in search of a brighter future for America.

Moments after the inauguration of our 45th President, best friends Barack Obama and Joe Biden were escorted to a secret lab run by the world’s greatest scientists. They were asked to take off all their clothes and hold very still in a fetal position until they felt a painful tingling sensation. Then they vanished. They would awake to find themselves apart, and inside their younger bodies—driven to find each other and change history for the better. Their faithful guide on this journey is Samuel L. Jackson, a brilliant actor from the present who appears in the form of an augmented reality that only they can see and hear. And thus, they find themselves leaping through time, striving to right injustice wherever they find it, looking for a world which they can proudly call home.

A visual feast that’s both graphic and novel, this book is a love letter to cheesy science fiction and the two men who can still be counted on to inspire us.  Featuring comics produced by Titmouse Inc (Big Mouth, The Venture Bros.), it’s 224 pages of adventure that will melt your snowflake brain and give you hope for humanity at the same time. 


The kids’ loot:

What did you get from your library this week?


It’s Monday and I’m reading manga






 It’s been a drier January than last year. We did see some fog last week and a bit of a drizzle but not really all that rain that we are always looking out for!

It was Super Bowl yesterday, in case you’re not into that kind of thing. I watch for the ads. And the snacks. I was mainly crocheting. My 8yo was very into it this year. Maybe it has something to do with all those STEAM field trips to the 49ers stadium (which is near us) that they do for the schools here. They learn about sport science and even do some math apparently – even the transportation to and from the stadium was provided in air-conditioned buses.

We had friends from out of town visiting us, they were driving up from Anaheim to Seattle and it was nice to see them and ply them with our favourite Pakistani food. Unfortunately I didn’t take a photo of it. So here’s a photo of my lunch on Sunday instead.

Bento box with saba, tempura, and sashimi

And here’s my latest crochet project, an African Flower hexagon cushion cover.






Wilder Girls by Rory Power
Night Sky with Exit Wounds – Ocean Vuong



Next in Fashion

Ok I was so excited to watch this and yup, I binge-watched so many episodes and then more the next day! I’m a fan of Queer Eye and Tan France is my fave so was happy to see him in something else. And he’s got great chemistry with Alexa Chung. The contestants were surprisingly from all over the world – Mexico, the UK, Italy, China, South Korea, India, and of course the US. And also those judges! From Phillip Lim to Prabal Gurung to Public School. So awesome. I don’t think it was very fair to have the contestants compete in pairs for so long (six episodes!) though as some of them were complete strangers before the show while others had been friends for years. Some of them had very different styles and ways of working so I’m not sure if it was fair to be competing with those pairs who had known each other for years. But still it was an awesome show to watch and I think for a refreshing change for American reality TV competitions, the contestants seemed to genuinely care for each other, and even help each other out, even when they were supposed to be competing against each other!



 A green tea wafer cookie




Mondays are busy evenings for us as the 8yo has tennis class from 530-7 and by the time we get home it’s about 730. He has a big snack before we go and then dinner after. So usually we have leftovers but today I’m cooking some fried noodles, something that keeps well as I will cook before we leave and reheat after.

I was thinking of making pizza this week

Last week:

I read:

Dreamin’ Sun vol 1 – Ichigo Takano
Dreamin’ Sun vol 2 – Ichigo Takano
Dreamin’ Sun vol 3 – Ichigo Takano
Dreamin’ Sun vol 4 – Ichigo Takano

I posted:

Library Loot (January 29 to February 4)

Weekend Cooking: Vegetable curry and coconut rice


It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week. This meme started with J Kaye’s Blog   and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date


Weekend Cooking: Coconut rice and Sayur Lodeh (vegetable curry)

During the first day of lunar new year, we invited friends over for dinner and I cooked up a Singapore-style meal. With sayur lodeh, grilled chicken, coconut rice, and pandan cake.

Coconut rice or nasi lemak (Rice cooker recipe)

5 cups of basmati rice
Water – to the amount in the rice cooker measurement
2-3 tsp salt
600 ml coconut milk/cream
5 pandan leaves (adds a nice fragrance, can be found in the freezer section of some Asian supermarkets)

Put the rice and water, pandan, and salt in the rice cooker, set to cook. When it is done, add the coconut milk, stir, and continue to leave it in the ‘warm’ setting

Sayur lodeh (Feeds 8)

For the rempah or curry paste
5 cm long piece of ginger
4 shallots
4 garlic cloves
2 red chilis deseeded
2 stalks lemongrass chopped
35g of dried shrimp, soaked in hot water
1 1/2 tbsp of turmeric powder
1 tbsp of curry powder
(in the recipe I referred to, it also called for 5 cm galangal, shrimp paste or belacan, and 6 candlenuts. These ingredients are a little more difficult to find. I could have gone to the Southeast Asian supermarket but it was a hassle to make another trip, and really, I think the sayur lodeh tasted fine without it)

About 500g of green beans, cut to about 5cm
3 medium carrots, sliced diagonally
About 1/2 cabbage, cut into pieces
Firm tofu (I panfried the tofu first)
About a cup of chicken stock
400ml coconut milk
(You don’t have to be so exact when getting your vegetables together. In the end I think I could have added more cabbage and carrots).

Use a food processor to blend all the rempah ingredients into a fine paste

In a wok, heat some oil, add in the rempah and fry until it’s dry (takes a few minutes).

Add in the chicken stock and bring to a boil.

Add in your vegetables and simmer until just tender.

Mix in the coconut milk. Don’t over boil as it will split. Just bring it to a gentle simmer.

Taste and add in some salt if needed (depends on how salty your stock is).

I served the sayur lodeh with coconut rice and grilled chicken drumsticks.


Weekend Cooking at Beth Fish Reads is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, beer, wine, photographs

Library Loot (January 29 to February 4)

badge-4Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Sharlene from Real Life Reading that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.



Happy Library Loot day!

Claire has the link-up this week.


I’m intrigued by this cover! Hope it’s a good read…

Wilder Girls – Rory Power

It’s been eighteen months since the Raxter School for Girls was put under quarantine. Since the Tox hit and pulled Hetty’s life out from under her.

It started slow. First the teachers died one by one. Then it began to infect the students, turning their bodies strange and foreign. Now, cut off from the rest of the world and left to fend for themselves on their island home, the girls don’t dare wander outside the school’s fence, where the Tox has made the woods wild and dangerous. They wait for the cure they were promised as the Tox seeps into everything.

But when Byatt goes missing, Hetty will do anything to find her, even if it means breaking quarantine and braving the horrors that lie beyond the fence. And when she does, Hetty learns that there’s more to their story, to their life at Raxter, than she could have ever thought true

Pastry Love – Joanne Chang

James Beard award–winning baker Joanne Chang is best known around the country for her eight acclaimed Flour bakeries in Boston. Chang has published two books based on the offerings at Flour, such as her famous sticky buns, but Pastry Love is her most personal and comprehensive book yet. It includes 125 dessert recipes for many things she could never serve in the setting of a bakery—for example, items that are best served warm or with whipped cream on top. Nothing makes Chang happier than baking and sharing treats with others, and that passion comes through in every recipe, such as Strawberry Slab Pie, Mocha Chip Cookies, and Malted Chocolate Cake. The recipes start off easy such as Lemon Sugar Cookies and build up to showstoppers like Passion Fruit Crepe Cake. The book also includes master lessons and essential techniques for making pastry cream, lemon curd, puff pastry, and more, all of which make this book a must-have for beginners and expert home bakers alike.


What did you get from your library this week?