Popular Books Worth the Hype (or not) #amonthoffaves



A Month of Faves is hosted by GirlXOXO

I’m never sure what hype means when it comes to books, but I’m going to relate this to books that seem to be popular on social media (and by that I mean mostly Instagram) and maybe “best of” lists. These aren’t all published in 2022 but books I’ve read in 2022 (and may have been published this year).

Kaiju Preservation Society – John Scalzi

This was definitely a hyped book as it had a long library ebook queue. I happened to be lucky and spotted it on the shelves at the library one day. It was just a really fun read that starts with a guy at a new job that’s been described as an “animal rights organisation”. These animals just happen to be kaiju (a Japanese term for giant monsters) and they happen to live in an alternate world.

When Women Were Dragons – Kelly Barnhill

Another book about unusual creatures. Except that these dragons start out as women. This book touches on some important themes like feminism, LGBTQ+ relationships, and the bonds between mother and daughter.

The Thursday Murder Club – Richard Osman

The first book in this crime/mystery series starring a group of spunky senior citizens. Really fun read.

Afterparties – Anthony Veasna So

Sadly, the author died in 2020 aged 28. But this collection of stories featuring Cambodian communities is truly unforgettable.

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow – Gabrielle Zevin

Ah, a book I initially wasn’t sure if I would like, but ended up absolutely LOVING it. Zevin’s Storied Life was a bit too sweet for me. But this one that revolved around video game designers was fascinating and so immersive.

Books Not Quite Worth The Hype

Love Marriage – Monica Ali

There was quite a bit of hype about this since this was her first book in ten years. But I struggled through it, eventually finishing it, but not having enjoyed the reading journey much.

I Want to Die but I want to Eat Tteokbokki – Baek Sehee

I’m not sure if it’s really hyped in the US since it was recently released here. But this Korean book was everywhere in Singapore. Also it was recommended by RM of BTS. It’s a kind of therapy memoir and has a very eye-catching title. I hesitate to say that I wasn’t fond of it, since it’s the author’s journey with depression and I admire her for putting her story out there. It just wasn’t for me.

Weather – Jenny Offill

Offill’s books are often critically praised but I just didn’t jive with the very fragmented style.

The Echo Wife – Sarah Gailey

While thinking about this list, I saw this title on my reading spreadsheet and couldn’t remember what it’s about. So that doesn’t bode well for it.

Klara and the Sun – Kazuo Ishiguro

This was a major disappointment for me as Ishiguro has written some lovely books. It was also longlisted for the Booker 2021. He had some good ideas but didn’t manage to explore them all successfully.

Library Loot (December 7 to 13)

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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 Wednesday! What did you get from your library this week?

What I got from the library this week:

The Dead Romantics – Ashley Poston

It’s on the NY Times Notable Books of 2022 so I was curious.

One Italian Summer – Rebecca Serle

Well, possibly because I saw this in quite a few places.

Saha – Cho Nam-Joo, translated by Jamie Chang

Cho wrote Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 which I really liked. This book is about people living in a neglected housing estate.

Joan is Okay – Week Wang

Wang previously wrote Chemistry, and I like how this book sounds:

Joan Is Okay touches on matters that feel deeply resonant: being Chinese-American right now; working in medicine at a high-stakes time; finding one’s voice within a dominant culture; being a woman in a male-dominated workplace; and staying independent within a tight-knit family.”

Moments of 2022 #amonthoffaves



A Month of Faves is hosted by GirlXOXO

#AMonthofFaves Moments of 2022. What were some of the moments this year that you are grateful for?

Ah 2022 was well, I was going to say a lovely year, but then again it was also the year that my kids caught covid and luckily they were ok and didn’t have bad symptoms – slight fever, sore throat, cough. They also started at a brand new school campus. The school district decided to merge the Mandarin immersion program from two elementary schools to one, as well as open the school campus that had been built a few years ago in a new housing area. There’s still quite a bit of construction around the school as more condos and houses are being built. The kids are definitely appreciating their new campus!

Anyway, other than that, we did some traveling this year:

Hawaii in April

We decided to finally make a trip to the Big Island during Spring Break. It was something we’ve been wanting to do for years. The kids had never been to Hawaii before. I had been to Honolulu and Maui with my mom ages ago, before I was married. We all had a blast in Hawaii. We went snorkelling, a night swim with the manta rays, explored the Volcano National Park and saw the lava glow. Here’s my post on our trip.

Singapore in July/August

As our families live in Singapore, we often make a trip to visit them. Of course with the pandemic, we hadn’t been for a couple of years. We stayed for longer this time though this timer and it was wonderful to see our families and friends. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see my sis-in-law and her family as they were stuck in Scotland.

As usual, I ate so much amazing food in Singapore, delicious Italian food, and Thai food, and of course fantastic Singapore food. I finally wrote a post about it last week! My mom and I took the kids to a Singapore Symphony Orchestra, and I also saw Korean hiphop group Epik High.

Crater Lake and Lassen Volcanic Park (September 2022)

Another bucket list trip was Crater Lake National Park in Oregon. Some 7,700 years ago, a volcano erupted and then collapsed. What now remains is a lake in its crater. It’s the deepest lake in the US and it’s beautiful. Here’s my post on the trip.

On the way back from Crater Lake, we made a stop at Lassen Volcanic Park. Another beautiful park with mountains and lakes. The main attraction here is Bumpass Hell, named after the person who found it, who alas fell into one of the hydrothermal areas and lost his leg. It has mud pools, steam geyser, sulphur and more. It’s truly an amazing sight. The trail is usually only open around July to October.

It was a super last minute decision to make this trip. On our way up north, a wildfire exploded through one of the roads we were supposed to take. The road was closed just 15-20 minutes just before we reached that turnoff and so we had to take an extra hour-long detour. But I’m just glad that we hadn’t been there any earlier!

It’s Monday (December 5, 2022)

Some things last week:

We had a very rainy Saturday where it rained pretty much all day. It was a good day to make some Christmas cookies. Usually I make some earlier in the month to send to the husband’s mentor in Seattle. These are almond cookies (I used recipe one from this blog).

Picked up some Indian-style pizza for lunch

We decided to try a recently opened Japanese restaurant. I had the chirashi bowl which was quite good, although it was the cheaper one that I ordered.
And some rolls too.
A simple dinner last week with steamed egg with ground pork, stirred vegetables, cabbage and meatball soup.
Carbonara (I added the bacon to mine later), oven-roasted Brussels sprouts, and zucchini panko-crusted “fries”
Made an amigurumi purple whale ornament!

Also, it’s Spotify Wrapped time!

Currently…

Reading:

The Many Daughters of Afong Moy – Jamie Ford

Watching:

The Crown

Listening:

We Were Dreamers – Simu Liu

Eating and Drinking:

Nespresso and an almond cookie

Cooking:

Japchae maybe?

My kids were talking about quiche so I might make one. Maybe a spinach and mushroom quiche?

Last week:

I read:

Seoulmates – Susan Lee (funny enough, it’s the second Seoulmates title I’ve read this year).

Remarkably Bright Creatures – Shelby Van Pelt

Savor – Fatima Ali

I posted:

Eating Singapore 2022

Library Loot (November 30 to December 6)

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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

Eating Singapore 2022

Well, this post is several months late, but I wanted to chronicle some of the great food I ate when I was in Singapore in July and August. We were there for slightly over a month!

Singapore style seafood at Jumbo at Dempsey Road. Chili crab, deep-fried baby squid, Hokkien mee and more.
I have no idea what this place is called but it’s under a block of flats somewhere, and is a really good place for Singapore local food called “zichar”. There’s sweet and sour pork, beef horfun, butter crab, prawn paste chicken, and more.

Sushiro is a conveyor-belt sushi joint from Japan and seems to have sprung up so many branches in Singapore over the past few years. The variety and quality of the sushi is really good and we ate there several times.

The kids’ favourite Singapore food is satay.
Another Singapore treat is kueh pie tee. This is a cooked mixture of thinly sliced turnips and carrots inside a crispy tart shell. We had ours topped with half a prawn and some chili sauce.
This is roti prata which is eaten with curry.

Haidilao is a popular hotpot chain from China. It’s always crowded and when you wait for your table, you can sit outside the restaurant and have snacks and drinks.

While we have several Thai restaurants where we live, I find that Thai eateries in the US tend towards the sweeter side, except for those in Thai town in LA. I love Thai food and my friend recommended this one called Nakhon Kitchen. The food was delicious!

I love eclairs. This is a bakery that sells only eclairs and aren’t they such beauties?

Left to right: Lemon meringue, Earl Grey, Lychee white peach, dark chocolate

I met my friend at this place called Rhubarb. It had a lovely omakase lunch that started with these scallops and grapefruit.
Beautiful duck breast main.

And ended with this gorgeous tart

A fun restaurant in the downtown area called Holy Crab. Full of punny food names, like this one called Crabtree and Evelyn. Before the waiter cut up the broccoli, he said, ok you can all take photos first. It’s sitting in a beautiful crab sauce, hence the name.
But one of the best things to eat was surprisingly this salted egg yolk corn dish. So addictive.

Library Loot (November 30 to December 6)

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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 Wednesday! What did you get from your library this week?

Claire has the link-up this week.

What I got from the library this week:

The Dark Matter of Mona Starr – Laura Lee Gulledge

A YA graphic novel about a teen’s struggle with depression.

We Were Dreamers – Simu Liu (audiobook)

My hold for this audiobook finally came in! In case Liu is unfamiliar to you, he starred as the Marvel superhero Shang-Chi.

Dreamsnake – Vonda McIntyre

I first read this maybe 10 years ago? And I’m rereading it for a reading challenge – Read an award-winning book from the year you were born.

It’s Monday (November 28, 2022)

We are heading into December soon! I don’t quite feel ready yet….! How about you?

Some things last week:

It was Thanksgiving last Thursday and the kids were off school for the week. In last week’s post, I had mentioned that my 11yo went for a 3 day 2 night science camp in the mountains. He had a blast and loved all the nature stuff that they learnt. They took a night hike, had a campfire, caught aquatic bugs in the river, did a ropes course, and touched a snake. My younger son was especially envious about that part 🙂

On Thanksgiving, we did our usual hotpot. We bought meat from the Japanese supermarket on the way back from picking up the kid from camp. And the rest of the vegetables and three types of mushrooms were ordered from Weee, the online grocer that specialises in Asian goods. The mushrooms (enoki, beech, oyster) from Weee somehow always end up being cheaper than getting it from the Asian supermarket.

The kids helped make a brownie cheesecake (recipe from King Arthur). My younger boy loves cheesecake but no one else does (I quite like Japanese cheesecake though!), so this was a kind of compromise

We also tried a new-to-us ramen place, I had the crab ramen. Lots of fresh crab!
And also ate at the kids’ favourite Taiwanese beef noodle place, which also has good xiaolongbao.

Last night, we had Indian food. This is paneer butter masala and dal makhani with garlic naan.

Currently…

Reading:

The Many Daughters of Afong May – Jamie Ford (in case you’re wondering about the picture, I was just comparing how huge this cabbage was to that hardcover. It was a 3.5 kg (7.7 pound) cabbage although the order had stated that the cabbage would be about 2.5 to 3.2 pounds 😛

Savor – Fatima Ali

Remarkably Bright Creatures – Shelby Van Pelt

Watching:

The Crown

Listening:

Eating and Drinking:

Right now, just an oolong tea. I had sourdough toast with butter for breakfast.

Cooking:

Maybe a mushroom Alfredo as I still have some mushrooms to cook up. It will be a slightly chilly week so I wouldn’t mind some soup too. Maybe tomato soup.

Last week:

I read:

Below Zero – Ali Hazelwood

Hunt the Stars – Jessie Mihalik

I posted:

#WeekendCooking Spam Egg Rice Sandwich

Library Loot (November 23 to 29)

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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

#WeekendCooking Spam Egg Rice Sandwich

So I’m not entirely sure what the official name of this is. I’ve seen it called a “folded kimbap” as well as “onigirazu”. Essentially it’s a “sandwich” of sorts made with seaweed, rice, spam, egg, and really, whatever filling you might want to put in that works well. The 9yo and I first came across this on the Cooking Haru YouTube channel.

The boys love spam and we ate so much spam musubi when we were in Hawaii, as it was quick and available at all the supermarkets.

Cooked some short grain rice. Cut a slit through a quarter of the seaweed (see the video for details), scooped rice onto the first bottom lefthand corner, added some sesame oil, green onions, sesame seeds, and kimchi. The quarter above gets two slices of fried spam, and some sliced cucumbers. I decided that was enough for me.

This one was for my son. He wanted to have it exactly like the YouTube video, so there’s rice, spam, some Kraft cheese, and a fried egg. The spam and cheese was salty enough so I didn’t season the egg. He later declared that it would be better without the cheese, and replaced it with cucumbers.

We wrapped up a couple of them for my 11yo, who has been at science camp in the mountains the past couple of days. It was a fun meal to try.

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book reviews (novel, nonfiction), cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs, restaurant reviews, travel information, or fun food facts. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog’s home page

Library Loot (November 23 to 29)

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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 Wednesday! What did you get from your library this week?

What I got from the library this week:

The Many Daughters of Afong Moy – Jamie Ford

From Bad to Cursed – Lana Harper (this is what happens when I take the younger son with me to the library – the older boy is at science camp. He gave me three minutes upstairs to check out the new adult fiction, and picked out this book for me).

Below Zero – Ali Hazelwood

A cute romcom novella set in the Arctic, featuring scientists of course.

Remarkably Bright Creatures – Shelby Van Pelt

A story about a widow who works the night shift at an aquarium, where she befriends an octopus. While I get the first cover with the octopus, I’m curious about the second cover. Why has the cover designer of the Bloomsbury edition completely avoided the octopus and gone with what looks like a wooden horse?

Hunt the Stars – Jessie Mihalik

Sounds like it’s a sci-fi romance of sorts that has an enemy to lovers trope. Not necessarily something I’m tending towards but who knows?

Savor – Fatima Ali

If you’ve watched Top Chef, you might know of Fatima Ali, who was on season 15. She was one of my favourites of that season! Sadly, she died a couple of years ago of cancer at the age of 29. She wrote about her diagnosis in this essay for Bon Appetit.