Library Loot (November 20 to 26)

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’ve been wanting to read this one!

Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations by Mira Jacob

A bold, wry, and intimate graphic memoir about American identity, interracial families, and the realities that divide us, from the acclaimed author of The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing.

“By turns hilarious and heart-rending, it’s exactly the book America needs at this moment.”—Celeste Ng

“Who taught Michael Jackson to dance?”
“Is that how people really walk on the moon?”
“Is it bad to be brown?”
“Are white people afraid of brown people?”

Like many six-year-olds, Mira Jacob’s half-Jewish, half-Indian son, Z, has questions about everything. At first they are innocuous enough, but as tensions from the 2016 election spread from the media into his own family, they become much, much more complicated. Trying to answer him honestly, Mira has to think back to where she’s gotten her own answers: her most formative conversations about race, color, sexuality, and, of course, love.

“How brown is too brown?”
“Can Indians be racist?”
“What does real love between really different people look like?”

Written with humor and vulnerability, this deeply relatable graphic memoir is a love letter to the art of conversation—and to the hope that hovers in our most difficult questions.

It’s been a long time since I’ve read The Historian (and I only rated it 3 stars on Goodreads!) but I decided to give Kostova another chance. And while I’m a bit daunted by the heft of this book, it did open intriguingly with a tourist accidentally taking someone’s bag, inside of which is an urn with ashes. I guess I had to borrow it after reading that. It ties in also with a previous library book about a woman working in a crematory.

The Shadow Land – Elizabeth Kostova

From the #1 bestselling author of The Historian comes an engrossing novel that spans the past and the present and unearths the dark secrets of Bulgaria, a beautiful and haunted country.

A young American woman, Alexandra Boyd, has traveled to Sofia, Bulgaria, hoping that life abroad will salve the wounds left by the loss of her beloved brother. Soon after arriving in this elegant East European city, however, she helps an elderly couple into a taxi and realizes too late that she has accidentally kept one of their bags. Inside she finds an ornately carved wooden box engraved with a name: Stoyan Lazarov. Raising the hinged lid, she discovers that she is holding an urn filled with human ashes.

As Alexandra sets out to locate the family and return this precious item, she will first have to uncover the secrets of a talented musician who was shattered by oppression and she will find out all too quickly that this knowledge is fraught with its own danger.

Kostova’s new novel is a tale of immense scope that delves into the horrors of a century and traverses the culture and landscape of this mysterious country. Suspenseful and beautifully written, it explores the power of stories, the pull of the past, and the hope and meaning that can sometimes be found in the aftermath of loss.

 

 

I keep spotting this book as I browse the library. It isn’t exactly calling out to me but it’s always there at the corner of my eye. And so I pick it up. I haven’t read very many books by McCracken. I read Niagara Falls All Over Again a long time ago (like maybe more than 10 years ago). The most recent of her books I’ve read was An Exact Replica of a Figment of my Imagination which I loved and which was devastating. And perhaps I was so shaken by that read that I never picked up any of her books again. Oh well, so here’s to trying again.

Bowlaway by Elizabeth McCracken

A sweeping and enchanting new novel from the widely beloved, award-winning author Elizabeth McCracken about three generations of an unconventional New England family who own and operate a candlepin bowling alley.

From the day she is discovered unconscious in a New England cemetery at the turn of the twentieth century—nothing but a bowling ball, a candlepin, and fifteen pounds of gold on her person—Bertha Truitt is an enigma to everyone in Salford, Massachusetts. She has no past to speak of, or at least none she is willing to reveal, and her mysterious origin scandalizes and intrigues the townspeople, as does her choice to marry and start a family with Leviticus Sprague, the doctor who revived her. But Bertha is plucky, tenacious, and entrepreneurial, and the bowling alley she opens quickly becomes Salford’s most defining landmark—with Bertha its most notable resident.

When Bertha dies in a freak accident, her past resurfaces in the form of a heretofore-unheard-of son, who arrives in Salford claiming he is heir apparent to Truitt Alleys. Soon it becomes clear that, even in her death, Bertha’s defining spirit and the implications of her obfuscations live on, infecting and affecting future generations through inheritance battles, murky paternities, and hidden wills.

In a voice laced with insight and her signature sharp humor, Elizabeth McCracken has written an epic family saga set against the backdrop of twentieth-century America. Bowlaway is both a stunning feat of language and a brilliant unraveling of a family’s myths and secrets, its passions and betrayals, and the ties that bind and the rifts that divide. 

The kids’ loot:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What did you get from your library this week?

 

 

It’s Monday and it’s a minimum week!

 

The kids’ school is on minimum days this week for parent-teacher conferences so I’ll have to think up ways to keep them occupied! Thankfully it is still warm enough in the afternoons to go swimming (also the pool is heated).

It was Chimchar Community Day on Saturday! In case you haven’t a clue what I’m talking about, it’s a Pokemon Go thing, every month they have one specific Pokemon that spawns everywhere. We then spend those three hours at our city’s main park catching Pokemon. Lots of people hang out there too so it’s fun to see all these different people, young and old, and playing together.

 

We hadn’t eaten Korean food for a while so it was off to get some bulgogi, dumplings, spicy tofu soup, and seafood pancake. Also all that banchan.

 Mango snow from a French-style bakery chain from Korea (not Paris Baguette)

 

 

 

 

Currently…

 

Reading:

 

Here And Now And Then – Mike Chen

 

 

Watching:

The Mandalorian on Disney+

I kinda like this series so far!

Listening:

Nothing at the moment. I do have a few holds on audiobooks though so maybe soon!

 

Eating:

Homemade scone

Drinking:

Tea

 

Last week:

I read:

 

The Testaments – Margaret Atwood (I have so many thoughts. Will actually put them in a post soon!)
Smoke Gets In Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory – Caitlin Doughty

I posted:

Library Loot (November 13 to 19)

Royal Holiday made me do it #WeekendCooking

 

badge
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

 

Royal Holiday made me do it #WeekendCooking

I was so thrilled to see Jasmine Guillory’s Royal Holiday while browsing the ‘new arrivals’ shelves at the library and quickly snapped it up before anyone else could. Of course there was no one else near said shelves except a rather elderly man but who knows, maybe he too was a fan of Jasmine Guillory. Her books are such a fun escape after all. Maybe he too enjoys the light romance and those ‘could it be? really?’ moments. Or those oh, hello, it’s you, type things. Or maybe it’s all that food she mentions in her books. Like burgers. Tacos. Doughnuts. More doughnuts.

And so here we are with scones.

Because it’s a book set in England! And opening in Sandringham Castle (where the Royal Family holidays at Christmas) in Norfolk no less! For Vivian Forest’s daughter is dressing a member of the Royal Family, and Vivian gets to tag along for a holiday. And it’s in Sandringham Castle that she meets Malcolm, who is the Queen’s private secretary. And sparks fly and all that. Also, lots of scones are consumed.

So I just had to make some!

I’ve been making scones for a while but it was only in recent years that I found the best scone recipe ever. It’s from The Bread Bible by Ruth Levy Bernanbaum.

Maybe it’s all the letter folds that she calls for, that is, where you fold the rolled out dough in thirds like a letter, one third on top of the other, giving you three layers of dough. Previously none of the scone recipes I tried ever asked for that, it was more of a roll out the dough and cut it kind of recipe. After one letter fold, the dough is turned 90 degrees and folded again. And one more time after that.

Does that make a difference? I like to think it does. That’s after all how puff pastry is made. All those letter folds.

Whether it is a result of letter folds or the ingredients used, this makes for a beautiful, buttery scone. Which can even be eaten on its own. It is that good. No need to slather in anything to disguise any dryness!

I love scones and since I live in suburban USA, there aren’t many to be found.

 

 

 


(All this was from one high tea set, for three people)

 

 

When I make my annual visit back home to Singapore, one thing I always do is hit a high tea. Singapore has many wonderful places, usually hotel cafes, that serve gorgeous high teas. Some places offer lavish buffets, others have lovely multi-tiered high tea trays serving up delicate treats. Sometimes scones are in the mix. And sadly, while most of the rest of the food is great, often the scones are not. So I’m just happy to have found this amazing recipe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 (November 13 to 19)

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!

The libraries here were closed on Monday for Veterans Day. But there’s always ebooks!

 

The Testaments – Margaret Atwood

One of the hot titles of the year, there is a long queue for this library ebook! But there apparently is a “skip the line” option at my library!

“Skip the line is made up of specially selected copies of high demand titles set aside for immediate access on a first-come-first-serve basis. These copies are only valid for a 7-day loan period and non-renewable. Only 1 Skip the line copy can be borrowed at any one time.”

Yup 7 days! Well at least it’s a quick read!

In this brilliant sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, acclaimed author Margaret Atwood answers the questions that have tantalized readers for decades.

When the van door slammed on Offred’s future at the end of The Handmaid’s Tale, readers had no way of telling what lay ahead for her–freedom, prison or death.

With The Testaments, the wait is over.

Margaret Atwood’s sequel picks up the story more than fifteen years after Offred stepped into the unknown, with the explosive testaments of three female narrators from Gilead.

 

Mouthful of Birds – Samantha Schweblin

This book is on the Man Booker Prize longlist

Unearthly and unexpected, the stories in Mouthful of Birds burrow their way into your psyche and don’t let go. Samanta Schweblin haunts and mesmerizes in this extraordinary, masterful collection.

Schweblin’s stories have the feel of a sleepless night, where every shadow and bump in the dark take on huge implications, leaving your pulse racing, and the line between the real and the strange blur

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What did you get from your library this week?

 

This post contains affiliate links from Book Depository.  If you buy via these links it means I receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you). 

It’s Monday! (let’s do this again)

 

So I forgot to actually update the post with things that did happen. And then I forgot that I had scheduled the post to be posted at 7am as I always do. And I forgot that it was indeed a school holiday and I wouldn’t be up at the usual 6am and checking my phone. Instead it was a leisurely breakfast of leftovers from our Sunday breakfast out at a local diner. It wasn’t the usual rush-rush-rush to get kids ready and eating breakfast and getting them to get their bags ready and lunch ready and out the door by 8.

What I’m trying to say is, OOPS.

And so here’s some stuff we did last week!

 

At the kids’ favourite playground, the 6yo decided to take advantage of the lack of kids (it was before 9 on a Saturday) and “meditate” on top of the sabercat. He cracks me up.

 

 

An article about ramen eateries in the Bay Area had us all longing for ramen. It was also a suitably chilly day and so ramen it was! This ramen has the usual chashu pork and onsen egg as well as butter clams and prawns. My kids love clams and so I only got to eat one.

It’s been feeling a lot more autumn-ish this past week!

 

Back at our local xiaolongbao place. Not as delicate and perfect as Din Tai Fung but hey there’s no ridiculous queue and it’s so much cheaper!

Currently…

 

Reading:

 

 

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory – Caitlin Doughty

Here And Now and Then – Mike Chen

Watching:

The Great Festive Baking Show (Netflix)

This is where they bring back past GBBO contestants for a fun Christmassy special!

Listening:

Nothing at the moment. Just finished Ariel Levy’s The Rules do not Apply

 

Eating:

Pancakes and French toast

Drinking:

Coffee

Cooking:

Last night I made a cabbage and sausage Mac and cheese. It was delicious!

Last week:

I read:

Royal Holiday – Jasmine Guillory
The Avant Guards vol 1 – Carly Usdin
A Breath of Snow and Ashes – Diane Gabaldon
Rules do not apply – Ariel Levy

I posted:

Library Loot (November 6 to 12)

 

 

badge
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 (November 6 to 12)

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! What did you get from your library this week? Share it in the link-up that Claire has this week!

 

 

I’m a sucker for a good Korean thriller. Some of the most bizarre moments in movies I’ve seen are from Korean movies.

The Good Son – You-Jeong Jeong

‘The Talented Mr. Ripley meets The Bad Seed in this breathless, chilling psychological thriller by the bestselling novelist known as “Korea’s Stephen King” Who can you trust if you can’t trust yourself? Early one morning, twenty-six-year-old Yu-jin wakes up to a strange metallic smell, and a phone call from his brother asking if everything’s all right at home – he missed a call from their mother in the middle of the night. Yu-jin soon discovers her murdered body, lying in a pool of blood at the bottom of the stairs of their stylish Seoul duplex. He can’t remember much about the night before; having suffered from seizures for most of his life, Yu-jin often has trouble with his memory. All he has is a faint impression of his mother calling his name. But was she calling for help? Or begging for her life? Thus begins Yu-jin’s frantic three-day search to uncover what happened that night, and to finally learn the truth about himself and his family. A shocking and addictive psychological thriller, The Good Son explores the mysteries of mind and memory, and the twisted relationship between a mother and son, with incredible urgency.

Here and Now and Then – Mike Chen 

To save his daughter, he’ll go anywhere—and any-when…

Kin Stewart is an everyday family man: working in I.T., trying to keep the spark in his marriage, and struggling to connect with his teenage daughter, Miranda. But his current life is a far cry from his previous career as a time-traveling secret agent from 2142.

Stranded in suburban San Francisco since the 1990s after a botched mission, Kin has kept his past hidden from everyone around him, despite the increasing blackouts and memory loss affecting his time-traveler’s brain. Until one afternoon, his “rescue” team arrives—eighteen years too late.

Their mission: return Kin to 2142 where he’s only been gone weeks, not years, and where another family is waiting for him. A family he can’t remember.

Torn between two lives, Kin is desperate for a way to stay connected to both. But when his best efforts threaten to destroy the agency and even history itself, his daughter’s very existence is at risk. It’ll take one final trip across time to save Miranda—even if it means breaking all the rules of time travel in the process.

A uniquely emotional genre-bending debut, Here and Now and Then captures the perfect balance of heart, playfulness, and imagination, offering an intimate glimpse into the crevices of a father’s heart, and its capacity to stretch across both space and time to protect the people that mean the most.

 

I was so excited to see this book on the “new arrivals” shelves I quickly grabbed it before anyone else could. Ok so it was a Tuesday afternoon and the only other person near these shelves was an elderly man but who knows, he might be in the mood for a romance novel. Because Guillory’s books are AWESOME. And it’s got mistletoe and England and happy sigh, that sounds superbly perfect.

Royal Holiday – Jasmine Guillory

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Proposaland “rising star in the romance genre” (Entertainment Weekly) comes a dazzling new novel about a spontaneous holiday vacation that turns into an unforgettable romance.

Vivian Forest has been out of the country a grand total of one time, so when she gets the chance to tag along on her daughter Maddie’s work trip to England to style a royal family member, she can’t refuse. She’s excited to spend the holidays taking in the magnificent British sights, but what she doesn’t expect is to become instantly attracted to a certain private secretary, his charming accent, and unyielding formality.

Malcolm Hudson has worked for the Queen for years and has never given a personal, private tour—until now. He is intrigued by Vivian the moment he meets her and finds himself making excuses just to spend time with her. When flirtatious banter turns into a kiss under the mistletoe, things snowball into a full-on fling.

Despite a ticking timer on their holiday romance, they are completely fine with ending their short, steamy affair come New Year’s Day. . .or are they?

 

The kids’ loot:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What did you get from your library this week?

 

This post contains affiliate links from Book Depository.  If you buy via these links it means I receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you). 

It Would Be Night in Caracas by Karina Sainz Borgo

The description of this book ticked lots of boxes for me.

It’s a translated book, written by a woman, and it’s set in South America, specifically Venezuela, a country I have never been to and don’t know very much of, and sadly haven’t read much about. So I was thrilled to receive this book and immediately set myself to read it.

And while it is heavy, while it is full of sadness and grief (it begins with the death of the main character’s mother and the difficulty in giving her a proper funeral, fearing thieves will descend on the grave before night falls), it was an absorbing read.

Life in Venezuela is a continuous struggle. Supplies are scarce. Rationing is so bad that sanitary napkins are more valuable than toilet paper. Cash is worthless. The banking system “a complete fiction”. Protesters on the street. The air constantly filled with tear gas.

“That’s the way we were all living: peering at what was in each other’s shopping bag. Sniffing out when a neighbour came home with something in short supply, so we could investigate where to get hold of it. We were all becoming suspicious and watchful. We would distort solidarity into predation.”

 

Adelaida falls into more trouble. The apartment that she lives in gets taken over by a gang of armed women. Luckily (and perhaps a little bit too conveniently), the death of a neighbour offers her an opening, a possible way out.

The story moves from present to past and the happier memories that Adelaida has of her childhood in the city.

It Would Be Night in Caracas is an intense read. It brings a personal narrative to all that is going on in Venezuela, what I’ve seen as headlines and news articles take on new meaning in this debut.

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks to TLC Book Tours and

publisher HarperVia for sending me a copy of this book.

 

 
Find out more about Karina Sainz Borgo: Twitter

Check out the rest of the tour stops