Four Treasures of the Sky by Jenny Tinghui Zhang

An unflinching story about a young girl kidnapped from China and smuggled to America in the late 1800s. Her journey takes her to a brothel in San Francisco to a mining town in Idaho, where she poses as Jacob.

“Daiyu to Feng to Peony to Jacob Li. When will I be me again? And if I become me again, will I know who she is?”

Not an easy read, as I kept wondering if life would get easier for Daiyu/Jacob. But this is the 1880s and the Chinese Exclusion Act is in play. While I had heard about the Act, I wasn’t aware of the many acts of anti-Chinese violence throughout the country at that time.

Four Treasures of the Sky was thoroughly researched and beautifully written. But I found it difficult to read the parts where the tragic heroine from Dream of the Red Chambers Lin Daiyu manifests herself. Not quite a ghost but perhaps an alter ego of the main character? It’s a way for teenaged Daiyu to emotionally extract herself from the trauma she faces. And she has a lot of traumatic experiences.

Beautiful but brutal.

Library Loot (June 29 to July 5)

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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! Hope your week’s been going well. Claire has the link-up this week!

What I got from the library this week:

Homicide and Halo-Halo – Mia P. Manansala

This hold just came in. This is the second book in the series. The first one was a fun read and hopefully this one is too.

How We Met – Huma Qureshi

I first heard of this from Claire. Am looking forward to reading it!

Mercy Street – Jennifer Haigh

This book was published earlier this year, but I guess after the horrendous news last week, this is as good a time as any to read it. It’s set in a women’s clinic, a place where women can get abortions.

It’s Monday (June 27, 2022)

Some things last week:

The kids and I made dumplings. I panfried some and boiled some. We ate it with noodles and bokchoy. The dumplings were just a simple ground pork mixture with some finely chopped bokchoy and minced ginger. We seasoned it with sesame oil, soy sauce, white pepper and salt.

The 9yo went on his first sleepover and he was very pleased that they got to stay up late and play video games! I guess my older son said that he was bored by himself 😛

A sushi sashimi platter we had over the weekend.

Otherwise, it’s been a week of playing tennis, going swimming, and hanging out.

Currently…

Reading:

The Starfarers Quartet Omnibus – Vonda McIntyre

The Twin – Gerbrand Bakker

Watching:

Starstruck on HBO Max

Listening:

Nothing at the moment

Eating and Drinking:

I had some sourdough toast with a slice of gouda for breakfast.

Cooking:

Last week:

I read:

Build Your House Around My Body – Violet Kupersmith

Sorrow and Bliss – Meg Mason

I posted:

Library Loot (June 22 to 28)

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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 (June 22 to 28)

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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! What did you get from your library this week? Link-up below or let us know in the comments!

What I got from the library this week:

Siren Queen – Nghi Vo

It sounds like this book has to do with Hollywood, a Chinese actress, and… magic?

Four Treasures of the Sky – Jenny Tinghui Zhang

A young girl is kidnapped and sent to America, where she’s forced to work in a brothel. This is America in the 1880s and the Chinese Exclusion Act has just been signed into law.

The Twin – Gerbrand Bakker

A story set in the bleak Dutch countryside, where a man has to return to his family farm after his twin dies.

The kids’ loot:

It’s Monday (June 20, 2022)

Some things last week:

Ordered some takeout from a place that specialises in panfried soup dumplings (above). The dumplings have a wonderful crunchy bottom and the inside is still nice and soupy. The filling is like xiaolongbao. We also ordered the spicy beef noodles. The kids have zhajiangmian.
Stone fruits are out in splendour at the farmers market. Our favourite are white nectarines.
For Father’s Day, the husband asked for Korean BBQ. So we got these nice sliced wagyu (and also regular beef slices for bulgogi). The meat on the left is pork belly.

After watching Jamie Oliver’s Keep Cooking and Carry On, I made a fish pie. This series was pretty much geared towards people in quarantine, using stuff in your freezer and pantry. And hey, I had all these ingredients. I used salmon and tilapia. I didn’t have spinach but there were carrots, celery, and peas. So I figured that was ok in terms of vegetables.

Currently…

Reading:

Four Treasures of the Sky – Jenny Tinghui Zhang

Watching:

Iron Chef on Netflix. Netflix rebooted Iron Chef! It’s got new Iron Chefs like Ming Tsai and Dominique Crenn, and a new cohost – Kristen Kish, winner of Top Chef season 10. I’ve also watched another cooking show she’s on – Fast Foodies on HBO Max. In that show, she and two other chefs copycat a celeb guest’s fave fast food, then in the second round, put their own spin on it.

Listening:

Still listening to Stanley Tucci talk about Italian food!

Eating and Drinking:

The kids and I made pancakes yesterday, so we had a few more leftover for breakfast this morning.

Cooking:

This week is going to be a hot one, but I haven’t quite figured out what to cook. Definitely not anything that requires long bake times! Maybe some quick stir fries. If it all goes to pot, then there’s always the option of eating tuna mayo on rice, which the kids love.

Last week:

I read:

Kodi – Jamie Cullum

The Cat Who Saved Books – Sōsuke Natsukawa

The Sentence – Louise Erdrich

I posted:

Library Loot (June 15 to 21)

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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 (June 15 to 21)

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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! Claire has the link-up this week.

What I got from the library this week:

Anna K Away – Jenny Lee

This is the second book in the series. The first was based on Anna Karenina and was really quite enjoyable – it’s a modern day retelling that reminded me of the TV series Gossip Girl, but with Asian-American main characters.

How to Marry Keanu Reeves in 90 Days – K.M. Jackson

This book seems to have very mixed reviews on Goodreads! But it does sound cute. Will see!

The Starfarers Quartet Omnibus – Vonda N. McIntyre

This is a collection of the books: Starfarers, Transition, Metaphase, and Nautilus. I felt like reading some SF!

It’s Monday (June 13, 2022)

Some things last week:

The kids’ last day of school was Monday (yeah I don’t know why either) and they’ve been enjoying last week. Took them to swim and play tennis.
We ate some Singapore style Hainanese chicken rice.

Currently…

Reading:

Cafe con Lychee – Emery Lee

(pictured with a spaghetti that I made with a delicious broccoli cheddar sauce. It’s essentially boil broccoli until it’s soft, then blend with grated cheddar, some of the pasta water, salt and pepper. I also added some garlic powder and a bit of cream).

Kaiju Preservation Society – John Scalzi

I honestly could have finished this in one day, but I’m enjoying it a lot so I’m trying to stretch it out a bit and make the ride last longer

When it’s a hot day (and there were some last week), I just want a really simple meal and this is what we ate. Rice (cooked in the rice cooker), tuna mayo, and Korean seasoned spinach (blanch spinach for 1 minute, plunge into ice water to shock and cool, squeeze the spinach to remove most of the water, then season with some soy sauce, sesame, garlic powder or fresh garlic. Keeps well for a few days in the fridge.)

The husband couldn’t get enough of the biryani we had the other day, and ordered some last night for dinner. I enjoyed the roasted goat so much, so I ordered it again! Interestingly, this time the goat had bits of cashew nuts in it? Maybe it’s a different cook… still tasty though.
I made a little thank you cactus for each of their teachers. The kids are in a mandarin immersion program so they have one English language teacher and one Mandarin teacher (who also teaches Math).

Watching:

Our Flag Means Death on HBO Max

Listening:

Taste – Stanley Tucci

Eating and Drinking:

For breakfast, I had a slice of buttered toast and a mug of tea

Cooking:

The kids want to make wontons so we bought some dumpling wrappers and ground pork. I might do fried wontons as well as the usual boiled versions.

I also bought some rice vermicelli so was thinking of making a Singapore-style dish called vegetarian beehoon. Essentially fried rice vermicelli with lots of vegetables like carrots and mushrooms. In Singapore, it’s a popular breakfast item.

Last week:

I read:

Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake – Alexis Hall

The Cat Who Saved Books – Sōsuke Natsukawa

I posted:

What to do with (almost) 20 pounds of cherries #WeekendCooking

Library Loot (June 8 to 14)

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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

What to do with (almost) 20 pounds of cherries #WeekendCooking

Brentwood, CA, is full of cherry farms. And during weekends in May and early June, the farms are full of families who’ve driven up from the Bay Area to pick cherries. Along with some friends, we drove an hour to RC Farms one Sunday morning, making sure to get there when the farm opened at 9am. Our family ended up with two buckets full of cherries.

So besides eating them fresh, here’s what I did with the cherries.

Cherry pie. This was the first time I’ve made cherry pie. I’ve made other pies, like blueberry and apple. I used this cherry pie recipe from Sally’s Baking Recipes, as well as the all-butter pie crust recipe on the website. The recipe was well written and easy to follow. And it turned out really delicious! I like how the half the cherries are to be left in halves (the rest are quartered) so that we had nice large pieces of cherries in the pie.

Cherry turnovers.

I made a bit of a cherry compote with some cherries, cooking it down slightly with a bit of sugar and vanilla essence. Then added it to some cut out store-bought puff pastry (it was right there and easy!). Another layer of puff pastry goes on top, and the sides are crimped with a fork. Brush with some egg wash and bake. A quick and yummy breakfast!

We also ate the cherry compote with yogurt. My younger son thought I needed to put more sugar in the compote but it was sweet enough for me.

Chocolate cherry ice cream

My absolute favourite of all these cherry treats was the chocolate cherry ice cream. I based it off David Lebovitz’s Chocolate Ice Cream recipe from his book, The Perfect Scoop. But added the cherry compote, just chopped up finely. He has a Toasted Almond and Candied Cherry ice cream in the book, but I didn’t have almonds plus my kids aren’t fond of nuts, so I figured that chocolate and cherry ice cream would do just fine. In his cherry ice cream, he uses 1 cup of the chopped candied cherries but mine was quite a bit more than 1 cup.

If you’re looking to make ice cream at home, I highly recommend The Perfect Scoop. His recipes are clear and easy to follow and more importantly, everything I’ve made from this book has turned out delicious.

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 (June 8 to 14)

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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.

What I got from the library this week:

I popped into the library for a very quick browse (it was closing in 25 minutes) and to pick up a few holds I had for the kids.

The three physical books I got are:
The Cat Who Saved Books by Sōsuke Natsukawa, Louise Heal Kawai (Translator)

I’ve seen this around a lot online and definitely had to pick it up when I found it on the New Arrivals shelves. Cats and books! Translated from Japanese! Sounds quirky!

Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi

I’ve read and enjoyed a few books in Scalzi’s Old Man’s War series but haven’t read his other books (and he seems to have written a lot). This one sounds like an interesting read. This guy signs on to work for an “animal rights organisation” that turns out to be one that deals with kaiju (which in Japanese means “strange beast”).

The Memory Librarian: And Other Stories of Dirty Computer by Janelle Monáe and others

I’ve not heard Monáe’s music before but I probably should, since this book is based off her album Dirty Computer.

Teach Me – Olivia Dade

I borrowed this for the Book Riot reading challenge – Read a romance where at least one of the protagonists is over 40. I’m not entirely sure if the protagonists are over 40 so hopefully this works?

Paradox Girl Vol 1 – Cayti Bourquin, illustrated by Yishan Li

Not quite sure how to describe this comic, so I’ll just copy and paste this part from the synopsis: “As a hero with the power to go anywhere and anywhen, Paradox Girl has made an absolute mess of her own life. She’s changed history so often that she isn’t even sure who she is anymore.” 

Kids’ loot:

It’s Monday (June 6, 2022)

Some things last week:

The husband’s friend was visiting Northern California with his kids (they’re from Colorado), and we invited them over for dinner.

We introduced them to Korean BBQ and Korean fried chicken. I also made a Hawaiian macaroni salad.
Using up the last of the cherry haul from Brentwood! I made lots of cherry desserts and will put up a post on it all soon. These were cherry turnovers using store-bought puff pastry
We tried out a new to us biryani eatery. On the left is roasted goat biryani and the right is a boneless chicken biryani (the chicken is underneath all that rice). It was really delicious! I love how the goat was tender and moist. We also had a saag paneer which was delicious but so spicy.

Currently…

Reading:

Watching:

Hacks on HBO Max. Just watched the last episode of season 2. And I’m not sure if there’s a season 3? Hopefully there is! I loved this show.

Listening:

Eating and Drinking:

I had some baguette for breakfast

Cooking:

We still have a bit of pork belly, vegetables, and rice leftover from the KBBQ. I’ll cook that up into a fried rice.

It’s a slightly warmer week but I have some broccoli languishing in the fridge and I feel like having soup! So broccoli cheese soup maybe?

Last week:

I read:

By the Book – Jasmine Guillory

The Spanish Love Deception – Elena Armas

I posted:

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

Library Loot (June 1 to 7)

China Boy by Gus Lee

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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