Crying in H Mart – Michelle Zauner

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I couldn’t stop reading this book despite its sad topic. Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner is so honest and emotional. Zauner writes about losing her mother to cancer. And how she turns to cooking Korean food to help overcome her grief and connect with her mother.

(H Mart, if you’re not familiar is a chain of Korean supermarkets. It’s the largest Asian American grocery store chain. They just opened a branch in SF a few months ago, but there isn’t one near me, so I haven’t been before!)

This book was devastating and yet so readable. Her conversational narrative felt welcoming despite the heavy topic. 

And the food. Oh. As someone living far away from my country, I could identify with the way food triggers all kinds of emotions for her. It’s not as easy to find good Singapore food though, so I have to make do with what I can get. 

What a read, truly.

Library Loot (May 12 to 18)

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Library 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 or comment below. We’d love to know what you picked up from your library this week.

I finally went to the second floor of the library! They moved the adult fiction up there (it’s also where the nonfiction has always been). The last time I went into the library, I had just popped in to grab some kids’ books.

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Here’s what I got for this week’s Library Loot.

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White Ivy – Susie Yang

Ivy Lin is a thief and a liar—but you’d never know it by looking at her. Raised outside of Boston, she is taught how to pilfer items from yard sales and second-hand shops by her immigrant grandmother. Thieving allows Ivy to accumulate the trappings of a suburban teen—and, most importantly, to attract the attention of Gideon Speyer, the golden boy of a wealthy political family. But when Ivy’s mother discovers her trespasses, punishment is swift and Ivy is sent to China, where her dream instantly evaporates.

Years later, Ivy has grown into a poised yet restless young woman, haunted by her conflicting feelings about her upbringing and her family. Back in Boston, when she bumps into Sylvia Speyer, Gideon’s sister, a reconnection with Gideon seems not only inevitable—it feels like fate.

Slowly, Ivy sinks her claws into Gideon and the entire Speyer clan by attending fancy dinners and weekend getaways to the Cape. But just as Ivy is about to have everything she’s ever wanted, a ghost from her past resurfaces, threatening the nearly perfect life she’s worked so hard to build.

Filled with surprising twists and offering sharp insights into the immigrant experience, White Ivy is both a love triangle and a coming-of-age story, as well as a glimpse into the dark side of a woman who yearns for success at any cost.

Brave Chef Brianna – Sam Sykes

To prove herself as a great chef, a young woman sets up a restaurant as the sole human in a city full of monsters.

Brianna Jakobsson has big cooking dreams, and when her ailing restaurateur father poses a challenge to his only daughter and fifteen sons, she seizes the opportunity. She’s going to have the best restaurant around and earn the family empire. Thing is, the only place she can afford to set up shop is in Monster City. Her menu is full of weird delicacies, her kitchen is run by a half-bird harpy, and her dining room is filled with skeleton businessmen. Add on the nefarious Madame Cron, some highly competitive siblings and Brianna’s plate is literally . . . full.

Brave Chef Brianna from writer Sam Sykes (Munchkin) and artist Selina Espiritu explores one woman’s incredible journey to realize her dreams in the unlikeliest of places. Welcome to Monster City!  

The Breakaways – Cathy G Johnson

Quiet, sensitive Faith starts middle school already worrying about how she will fit in. To her surprise, Amanda, a popular eighth grader, convinces her to join the school soccer team, the Bloodhounds. Having never played soccer in her life, Faith ends up on the C team, a ragtag group that’s way better at drama than at teamwork. Although they are awful at soccer, Faith and her teammates soon form a bond both on and off the soccer field that challenges their notions of loyalty, identity, friendship, and unity.

The Breakaways is a portrait of friendship in its many forms, and a raw and beautifully honest look into the lives of a diverse and defiantly independent group of kids learning to make room for themselves in the world. 

The kids’ loot:

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I used to love reading Asterix when I was a kid! So when I saw this in the kids’ graphic novel shelves, I had to pick it up for the boys.

What did you get from your library this week?

It’s Monday (May 10, 2021)

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For Mother’s Day, I felt like having Indian-Pakistani food. So many yummy things. Three vegetable curries, tandoori fish and chicken and lamb chops! Also garlic naan and plain naan.

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The boys made me some cute bracelets!
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Hope you all had a lovely weekend and here’s to a great week ahead!

Currently…

Reading:

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Accidentally Engaged by Farah Heron

Watching: The husband and I watched Tenet over the weekend. It was very action-packed and mind-bending with its whole time entropy and backwards thing. But as I thought about it more, I realized that Nolan (who wrote and directed it) forgot about the emotions part of it. I really like his other movies like Memento, Inception, Interstellar. But as I thought more about it, while those movies also play a lot on time and memory, there was also emotion.

If you haven’t seen any of these shows, don’t read any further!

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Those three other movies were so much about lives lost and memories of loved ones. And that wanting to stay with a lost memory of a person who’s not there anymore. There was feeling and emotion and relationships.

Tenet was a lot harder. I think you can’t have the Protagonist be any more than that because his whole journey has, in a sense, just begun. And because of the play with time, there is difficulty bringing in anything more in terms of background and details about him.

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Eating and Drinking: I had a slice of sourdough toast and a goat milk brie.

Cooking:

It’s going to be a much warmer week from today onwards! We will be hitting the 30s (Celsius) and while that number may not seem very high (Singapore is always in the highs of 30+), I feel that in CA because there’s so little (almost no) cloud cover, once you’re in the direct sunlight it’s so much hotter than 30.

Last week:

I read:

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Peaks and Bandits – Alf Bonnevie Bryn

Loveboat, Taipei – Abigail Hing Wen

Night Broken (Mercy Thompson #8) – Patricia Briggs

Crying in H Mart – Michelle Zauner

I posted:

Library Loot (May 5 to 11)

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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 (May 5 to 11)

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Library 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.

It’s Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month in the US. And with the exception of one Canadian writer, these books are all by Asian Americans.

Here’s what I got from the library this week.

Crying in H Mart – Michelle Zauner

In this exquisite story of family, food, grief, and endurance, Michelle Zauner proves herself far more than a dazzling singer, songwriter, and guitarist. With humor and heart, she tells of growing up the only Asian American kid at her school in Eugene, Oregon; of struggling with her mother’s particular, high expectations of her; of a painful adolescence; of treasured months spent in her grandmother’s tiny apartment in Seoul, where she and her mother would bond, late at night, over heaping plates of food.

As she grew up, moving to the East Coast for college, finding work in the restaurant industry, and performing gigs with her fledgling band–and meeting the man who would become her husband–her Koreanness began to feel ever more distant, even as she found the life she wanted to live. It was her mother’s diagnosis of terminal pancreatic cancer, when Michelle was twenty-five, that forced a reckoning with her identity and brought her to reclaim the gifts of taste, language, and history her mother had given her.

Vivacious and plainspoken, lyrical and honest, Zauner’s voice is as radiantly alive on the page as it is onstage. Rich with intimate anecdotes that will resonate widely, and complete with family photos, Crying in H Mart is a book to cherish, share, and reread.

I took Kerry’s literary matchmaking quiz on her blog and this was the result! Luckily one of the libraries had this ebook available.

Accidentally Engaged – Farah Heron

Reena Manji doesn’t love her career, her single status, and most of all, her family inserting themselves into every detail of her life. But when caring for her precious sourdough starters, Reena can drown it all out. At least until her father moves his newest employee across the hall–with hopes that Reena will marry him.

But Nadim’s not like the other Muslim bachelors-du-jour that her parents have dug up. If the Captain America body and the British accent weren’t enough, the man appears to love eating her bread creations as much as she loves making them. She sure as hell would never marry a man who works for her father, but friendship with a neighbor is okay, right? And when Reena’s career takes a nosedive, Nadim happily agrees to fake an engagement so they can enter a couples video cooking contest to win the artisan bread course of her dreams.

As cooking at home together brings them closer, things turn physical, but Reena isn’t worried. She knows Nadim is keeping secrets, but it’s fine— secrets are always on the menu where her family is concerned. And her heart is protected… she’s not marrying the man. But even secrets kept for self preservation have a way of getting out, especially when meddling parents and gossiping families are involved.

Loveboat, Taipei – Abigail Hing Wen

When eighteen-year-old Ever Wong’s parents send her from Ohio to Taiwan to study Mandarin for the summer, she finds herself thrust among the very over-achieving kids her parents have always wanted her to be, including Rick Woo, the Yale-bound prodigy profiled in the Chinese newspapers since they were nine—and her parents’ yardstick for her never-measuring-up life.

Unbeknownst to her parents, however, the program is actually an infamous teen meet-market nicknamed Loveboat, where the kids are more into clubbing than calligraphy and drinking snake-blood sake than touring sacred shrines.

Free for the first time, Ever sets out to break all her parents’ uber-strict rules—but how far can she go before she breaks her own heart? 

This series has been on my TBR list for a while now!

The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street – Karina Yan Glaser

The Vanderbeekers have always lived in the brownstone on 141st Street. It’s practically another member of the family. So when their reclusive, curmudgeonly landlord decides not to renew their lease, the five siblings have eleven days to do whatever it takes to stay in their beloved home and convince the dreaded Beiderman just how wonderful they are. And all is fair in love and war when it comes to keeping their home.

It’s Monday (May 3, 2021)

Happy Monday! And oh hey, it’s May already.

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Good news! I got my second dose of the Pfizer vaccine yesterday afternoon. Here’s the required photo, taken by my 10yo. This time we did it in a CVS pharmacy, about a half an hour drive, so we didn’t need to do the 3.5 hour drive down to Central CA like we did the first time!

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Made some laksa from a premade paste. I didn’t have the right noodles, so I just used the fresh egg noodles I was trying to use up.

 

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Made some tangzhong bread – oops, one of those rolls of dough was a bit bigger than the others

 

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We had celebratory steak frites on Sunday. Don’t worry, we shared that ribeye.

 

Currently…

Reading:

The Mermaid from Jeju by Sumi Hahn

Watching:

Together with the kids, I watched The Mitchells and the Machines. It’s a really fun family movie!

Listening:

Ok. I really ought to go figure out a new audiobook to download….

Eating:

A mocha croissant from Paris Baguette

Drinking:

Tea

Cooking:

I just realised that I may have the ingredients to cook a simplified version of sayur lodeh. It’s a popular dish in Singapore, essentially a coconut curry with vegetables. Usually it’s cabbage, green beans, tofu, carrots. There are some spices to use and a rempah or spice paste to make. Here’s a recipe. Usually it’s eaten with rice and as part of a multi-course meal known as nasi Padang.

In Singapore, when you go to a Nasi Padang place, there’s all kinds of delicious cooked foods, some curries, some fried foods, and you just pick a few things that you’d like and they put it on a plate with rice for you. I always pick sayur lodeh as it’s one of my favourites.

Last week:

I read:

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Anna K by Jenny Lee

Class Act by Jerry Craft

The Inland Sea by Madeleine Watts

I posted: Library Loot (April 28 to May 4)

Top not-quite animals #TopTenTuesday

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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 (April 28 to May 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 Wednesday!

Share your library loot in the link-up or comments!

(Edited to add: Oh boy, sorry about that. I have no idea why this previous version got published. And of course it’s on the day that I didn’t actually check my blog until the afternoon!).

The Mermaid from Jeju – Sumi Hahn

In the aftermath of World War II, Goh Junja is a girl just coming into her own. She is the latest successful deep sea diver in a family of strong haenyeo. Confident she is a woman now, Junja urges her mother to allow her to make the Goh family’s annual trip to Mt. Halla, where they trade abalone and other sea delicacies for pork. Junja, a sea village girl, has never been to the mountains, where it smells like mushrooms and earth, and it is there she falls in love with a mountain boy Yang Suwol, who rescues her after a particularly harrowing journey. But when Junja returns one day later, it is just in time to see her mother take her last breath, beaten by the waves during a dive she was taking in Junja’s place.

Spiraling in grief, Junja sees her younger siblings sent to live with their estranged father, Suwol is gone, the ghost of her mother haunts their home–from the meticulously tended herb garden that has now begun to sprout weeds, to the field where their bed sheets are beaten. She has only her grandmother and herself. But the world moves on without Junja.

The political climate is perilous. Still reeling from Japan’s forced withdrawal from the peninsula, Korea is forced to accommodate the rapid establishment of US troops, and her grandmother, who lived through the Japanese invasion that led to Korea’s occupation understands the signs of danger all too well. When Suwol is arrested for working with and harboring communists, and the perils of post-WWII overtake her homelands, Junja must learn to navigate a tumultuous world unlike anything she’s ever known.

 

 

I really enjoyed the first book in this series. 

Class Act – Jerry Craft

Eighth grader Drew Ellis is no stranger to the saying “You have to work twice as hard to be just as good.” His grandmother has reminded him his entire life. But what if he works ten times as hard and still isn’t afforded the same opportunities that his privileged classmates at the Riverdale Academy Day School take for granted?

To make matters worse, Drew begins to feel as if his good friend Liam might be one of those privileged kids. He wants to pretend like everything is fine, but it’s hard not to withdraw, and even their mutual friend Jordan doesn’t know how to keep the group together.

As the pressures mount, will Drew find a way to bridge the divide so he and his friends can truly accept each other? And most important, will he finally be able to accept himself?

 

I couldn’t resist borrowing this. 

Diary of an Oxygen Thief – Anonymous

Hurt people hurt people.

Say there was a novel in which Holden Caulfield was an alcoholic and Lolita was a photographer’s assistant and, somehow, they met in Bright Lights, Big City. He’s blinded by love. She by ambition. Diary of an Oxygen Thief is an honest, hilarious, and heartrending novel, but above all, a very realistic account of what we do to each other and what we allow to have done to us

What did you get from your library this week?

 

Top not-quite animals #TopTenTuesday

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is:

Animals from Books

(these could be mythical, real, main characters, sidekicks, companions/pets, shifters, etc.)

Here are my favourite…not-quite animals…

Pantalaimon from the His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman

He’s Lyra’s daemon, in case you’re not familiar with the books. And he takes the shape of a pine marten.

Elena Michaels and the rest of the Pack from the Otherworld series by Kelley Armstrong

This is a fun series, and it’s one of the few to feature a female werewolf (she’s also the only female werewolf in this series). Are there other books with female werewolves? Let me know!

Mercy Thompson from the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs

I do not like these covers at all and for a long time resisted reading this series just because of the covers. But they’ve turned out to be a really fun read. Mercy Thompson is a shifter. She can turn into a coyote. Also, her neighbours are werewolves.

Sirius Black from the Harry Potter series

He’s probably my favourite character in the series anyway. But I have to admit it’s mostly because of Gary Oldman. Black is an animagus and can change into a black dog.

Reepicheep from the Narnia series

One of the bravest knights!

Falkor from the Neverending Story by Michael Ende

The movie makes him look like a dog-dragon. But I love how in the book, his body is covered with pearl scales and his voice is described as “bell-like”.

Temeraire in His Majesty’s Dragon series by Naomi Novik

If you’ve not heard of this series, it’s a really fascinating alternative history one where dragons are used as aerial warfare in the 1800s.


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.

It’s Monday (April 26, 2021)

Hello, it’s Monday again. And good grief, we are almost into May. (I don’t actually say “good grief” but I don’t want to use swear words on this blog, so feel free to replace “good grief” with your favourite swear word.)

So last weekend, my younger son turned 8! We had ramen and cake and tennis with friends. And presents and Skype sessions with grandparents. 

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The birthday boy wanted ramen for lunch. So we tried a new place. I had tonkotsu ramen but the kids’ butter miso was tastier! Also, their chilli garlic calamari appetite was surprisingly good. It’s the way they cooked their calamari. Just nicely cooked so it’s not too chewy. In my opinion most places overcook squid

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And this is funfetti cake number 2 of the year. I made it with strawberry frosting (using freeze-dried strawberries) outside and chocolate frosting inside.
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Currently…

Reading: Anna K by Jenny Lee

Watching: Vincenzo.

Listening: Still haven’t landed on a new audiobook yet… any suggestions?

Eating and drinking: Cake!

Cooking: Hmmm I have a cabbage to cook up. Maybe I’ll make some soup with fish balls and cabbage. And then another day, I’ll stirfry the cabbage and serve that along some claypot rice.

Last week:

I read:

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Sharks in the Time of Saviors – Kawai Strong Washburn

A Pho Love Story – Loan Le

I posted:

Colorful Book Covers #TopTenTuesday

Library Loot (April 21 to 27)

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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 (April 21 to 27)

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 Day! Claire has the link-up this week. Here’s what I got from the library this week…
I haven’t been keeping up with the Back to the Classics challenge! Here’s one published in 1943 and luckily it fits the adventure theme. Peaks and Bandits – Alf Bonnevie Bryn, translated by Bibbi Lee In 1909, while dreaming of the Himalaya, Norwegian mountaineer Alf Bonnevie Bryn and a fellow young climber, the Australian George Ingle Finch, set their sights on Corsica to build their experience. The events of this memorable trip form the basis of Bryn’s acclaimed book Tinder og banditter – ‘Peaks and Bandits’, with their boisterous exploits delighting Norwegian readers for generations. Newly translated by Bibbi Lee, this classic of Norwegian literature is available for the first time in English. Although Bryn would go on to become a respected mountaineer and author, and Finch would become regarded as one of the greatest mountaineers of all time – a legend of the 1922 Everest expedition – Peaks and Bandits captures them on the cusp of these achievements: simply two students taking advantage of their Easter holidays, their escapades driven by their passion for climbing. As they find themselves in unexpected and often strange places, Bryn’s sharp and jubilant narrative epitomises travel writing at its best. Balancing its wit with fascinating insight into life in early twentieth-century Corsica, the infectious enthusiasm of Bryn’s narrative has cemented it as one of Norway’s most treasured adventure books. Peaks and Bandits embodies the timeless joy of adventure.
Another book for the Classics challenge Quicksand – Junichiro Tanizaki From one of the greatest writers of twentieth-century Japan comes a silkily nuanced novel of erotic gamesmanship and obsession. The voice–cultured, ingenuous, and with a touch of coquetterie–is that of Sonoko Kakiuchi, an Osaka lady of good family married to a dully respectable lawyer. What did you get from your library this week?

Colorful Book Covers #TopTenTuesday

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is:

Colorful Book Covers

Ugh. So I had planned some weeks ago to do this in a different way. Highlighting books from before 2000. But then I didn’t finish the post. And now I have no time to do it properly. Maybe another time then!

Instead, here are colourful book covers that I’ve recently read. It’s a mix of books that have to do with….historical fiction, translated fiction, cookbook, wuxia-inspired, pandemic-related, comics, ghosts, young love, and all that crazy fun sparkly stuff that come with the Lumberjanes.

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Untold Night and Day by Bae Suah

Indian(-ish) by Priya Krishna

The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water by Zen Cho

Latitudes of Longing by Shubhangi Swarup

Lumberjanes by Shannon Waters etc

The Shadow King by Maaza Mengiste

The Down Days by Ilze Hugo

Love Is For Losers by Wibke Brueggemann

Delicates by Brenna Thummler


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.