Library Loot (July 8 to 14)

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 July! We are into the second half of 2020. And what a year it has been… and I’m going to just leave it at that, and just hope that things improve as we move further into 2020.

But we will always have books. Meanwhile, if you have Library Loot to share, join in the fun below!

I quite enjoyed the first book in this series but it was a while ago, so maybe I should reread that one first!

Ghosts of Greenglass House by Kate Milford

Welcome back to the irresistible world of Greenglass House where thirteen-year-old Milo is, once again, spending the winter holidays stuck in a house full of strange guests who are not what they seem. There are fresh clues to uncover as friends old and new join in his search for a mysterious map and a famous smuggler’s lost haul.

The Inflatable Woman by Rachael Ball

Iris (or balletgirl_42 as she’s known on the Internet dating circuit) is a zookeeper looking for love when she is diagnosed with breast cancer. Overnight, her life becomes populated by a carnival of daunting hospital characters. Despite the attempts of her friends–Maud, Grandma Suggs, Larry the Monkey, and a group of singing penguins–to comfort her, her fears begin to encircle her, and she clings to the attention of a lighthouse keeper called sailor_buoy_39.

The Inflatable Woman combines magical realism with the grit of everyday life to create a poignant and surreal journey inside the human psyche.

Well-Read Black Girl – edited by Glory Edim

Remember that moment when you first encountered a character who seemed to be written just for you? That feeling of belonging can stick with readers the rest of their lives–but it doesn’t come around as frequently for all of us. In this timely anthology, “well-read black girl” Glory Edim brings together original essays by some of our best black female writers and creative voices to shine a light on how we search for ourselves in literature, and how important it is that everyone–no matter their gender, race, religion, or abilities–can find themselves there. Whether it’s learning about the complexities of femalehood from Their Eyes Were Watching God, seeing a new type of love in The Color Purple, or using mythology to craft an alternative black future, each essay reminds us why we turn to books in times of both struggle and relaxation. As she has done with her incredible book-club-turned-online-community Well-Read Black Girl, in this book, Edim has created a space where black women’s writing and knowledge and life experiences are lifted up, to be shared with all readers who value the power of a story to help us understand the world, and ourselves.

Contributors include: Jesmyn Ward (Sing Unburied Sing), Lynn Nottage (Sweat), Jacqueline Woodson (Another Brooklyn), Gabourey Sidibe (This Is Just My Face), Morgan Jerkins (This Will Be My Undoing), Zinzi Clemmons (What We Lose), N. K. Jemisin (The Fifth Season), Tayari Jones (An American Marriage), Nicole Dennis-Benn (Here Comes the Sun), Rebecca Walker (Black, White and Jewish), and more.

What did you get from your library this week?

Most-Read Authors #TopTenTuesday

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is:

Authors I’ve Read the Most Books By

I figured that the best way to find this out is to look through my Goodreads “read” list. But it turns out that finding out my “most read author” setting is no longer available!

My list does have 3416 books (as of July 6, 2020), so it was a bit of a task scrolling through to find out the most-read authors…also it doesn’t count all the authors I read prior to my joining Goodreads/when Goodreads was in existence…

I wasn’t sure about how to count comic books though, as sometimes I’ve read issues of the series, sometimes volumes. Does one count more than another? I figured that I wouldn’t count comic book writers, although that doesn’t sound very right either. It also complicated matters when I thought of writers who write both novels and comics, like Joe Hill, whose Locke & Key series I love, and also writes amazing novels too!

Ok so here’s my list of my most-read authors

Ursula K Le Guin – 13

Neil Gaiman – 12 (this would be higher, except I’m not including his comics, of which I’ve read many!)

Laurie R King – 11

Jasper Fforde – 11

Terry Pratchett – 10 (I think this may be more than 10 though)

Haruki Murakami – 10

LM Montgomery – 10

Nnedi Okorafor – 9 (this number surprised me, but then again, I would read everything she writes – and I have, since I’ve read some of her comics, YA, and adult books)

Stephen King – 9

NK Jemisin – 9

Anne Tyler – 8

Joyce Carol Oates – 8

JK Rowling – 7

Philip Pullman – 7

Naomi Novik – 7

Iris Murdoch – 7

Noel Streatfeild – 7

John Steinbeck – 6

Jose Saramago – 6

Oliver Sacks – 6

Ruth Reichl – 6

Hilary Mantel – 6

Mary Robinette Kowal – 6

Shirley Jackson – 6

Elizabeth Gaskell – 6

Daphne du Maurier – 6

Curtis Sittenfeld – 5

Dan Simmons – 5

Carol Shields – 5

Tom Perotta – 5

Maggie O’Farrell – 5

Ian McEwan – 5

Jhumpa Lahiri – 5

Pico Iyer – 5

Joe Hill – 5 (not counting his comics)

Gabriel Garcia Marquez – 5


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 (July 6, 2020)

It was a long weekend for the husband, whose office was closed from Thursday, to celebrate Independence Day. Usually my city has a parade down the Main Street, featuring motorbikes, gymnasts, school bands, wushu performances, floats and more. But this year, of course, that could not take place! The flyby still did happen though, and the kids loved watching the propeller planes go by in formation – three times!

For July 4th, we did a backyard barbecue with ribeye steak, sausages, asparagus, mini peppers, potatoes, and corn. And I had made my first ever lemon meringue pie! 

 

 

 

Other things this past week – tired of waiting for the masks we ordered to arrive (they don’t seem to have shipped still!), I pulled out some old clothes, that small sewing kit tucked away for mending, and checked out a Youtube video for making face masks without a sewing machine 

 

 

 

 

Currently…

Reading:

Polaris Rising by Jessie Mihalik

Watching:

Crazy Delicious on Netflix – love the fun set and the way the contestants get to “forage” for the ingredients instead of that silly race to the pantry that most cooking competitions have.

Listening:

Crime and Punishment – yes, still

Eating:

I had toast for breakfast. And we will have dim sum leftovers for lunch. Char siew bao, here I come.

 

Drinking:

Strawberry and clementine water. That is, I chopped some fruits up, and popped into a glass jug filled with cold water. It sat there overnight. And is nice and refreshing.

Cooking:

I have lots of vegetables to cook up – broccoli in the oven, perhaps, if it’s not too hot.

I was considering making some lemon bars or my favourite lemon bliss cake 

Last week:

I read:

A Taste of Sage – Yaffa S. Santos

Just Mercy- Bryan Stevenson

I posted:

Library Loot (July 1 to 7)

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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 (July 1 to 7)

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! And welcome to the first Library Loot of July.

Claire has the link-up this week. 

A Taste of Sage – Yaffa S. Santos

Lumi Santana is a chef with a gift: she can perceive a person’s emotions by tasting their cooking. Despite being raised by a mother who taught her that dreams and true love were silly fairy tales, she puts her heart and savings into opening her own fusion restaurant in Upper Manhattan. The restaurant offers a mix of the Dominican cuisine she grew up with and other world cuisines she is inspired by.

When her eclectic venture fails, she is forced to take a position as sous chef at a staid, traditional French restaurant owned by Julien Dax, a celebrated chef known for his acid tongue as well as his brilliant smile. After he goes out of his way to bake a tart to prove her wrong in a dispute, she is so irritated by his smug attitude that she vows to herself never to taste his cooking.

But after she succumbs to the temptation and takes a bite one day and is overcome with shocking emotion, she finds herself beginning to crave his cooking and struggling to stay on task with her plan to save up and move on as soon as possible. Meanwhile, Julien’s obsessed secretary watches with gnashed teeth as they grow closer and becomes determined to get Lumi out of her way permanently.

Polaris Rising – Jessie Mihalik

A space princess on the run and a notorious outlaw soldier become unlikely allies in this imaginative, sexy space opera adventure—the first in an exciting science fiction trilogy.

In the far distant future, the universe is officially ruled by the Royal Consortium, but the High Councillors, the heads of the three High Houses, wield the true power. As the fifth of six children, Ada von Hasenberg has no authority; her only value to her High House is as a pawn in a political marriage. When her father arranges for her to wed a noble from House Rockhurst, a man she neither wants nor loves, Ada seizes control of her own destiny. The spirited princess flees before the betrothal ceremony and disappears among the stars.

Ada eluded her father’s forces for two years, but now her luck has run out. To ensure she cannot escape again, the fiery princess is thrown into a prison cell with Marcus Loch. Known as the Devil of Fornax Zero, Loch is rumored to have killed his entire chain of command during the Fornax Rebellion, and the Consortium wants his head.

When the ship returning them to Earth is attacked by a battle cruiser from rival House Rockhurst, Ada realizes that if her jilted fiancé captures her, she’ll become a political prisoner and a liability to her House. Her only hope is to strike a deal with the dangerous fugitive: a fortune if he helps her escape.

But when you make a deal with an irresistibly attractive Devil, you may lose more than you bargained for . .

Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin

Author and photographer Susan Kuklin met and interviewed six transgender or gender-neutral young adults and used her considerable skills to represent them thoughtfully and respectfully before, during, and after their personal acknowledgment of gender preference. Portraits, family photographs, and candid images grace the pages, augmenting the emotional and physical journey each youth has taken. Each honest discussion and disclosure, whether joyful or heartbreaking, is completely different from the other because of family dynamics, living situations, gender, and the transition these teens make in recognition of their true selves.

What did you get from your library this week?

It’s Monday (June 29, 2020)

Monday again huh. The weekend sure passed us by quick. And just like that, it’s the end of June!

Here’s what we did last week…

Ate some Cambodian noodles. That pork bone broth is so heavenly! So light and refreshing and not porky at all (I don’t know about you, but some pork broths can be too much for me).

Met up with some friends to go cycling in a neighbourhood park – masks included, although sometimes after they got hot, the kids took theirs off….making me wonder, how will they be able to keep it on for the whole day if school reopens??

It was Dragonboat Festival the other day – I had forgotten all about it, but my neighbour kindly gave us some dumplings. There is glutinous rice and pork inside.

The kids took a free creativity online class last week, and one of the things they did was painting. I kind of like this pineapple the 7yo did.

Currently…

Reading:

Braised Pork by An Yu

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

Watching:

The kids started watching Floor is Lava

Listening:

More of Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Eating:

For breakfast, I had toast.

Drinking:

Tea

Cooking:

Maybe I’ll try making oyako don 

How about some pizza balls?

Last week:

I read:

The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo

A Duke by Default by Alyssa Cole

The Glass Hotel by Emily St John Mandel

DNF : My Summer of Love and Misfortune by Lindsay Wong (ugh what an annoying main character, and then she gets thrown into the arms of rich relatives in China? Really?)

I posted:

Strawberry milk, Gula Melaka chiffon cake #WeekendCooking

Library Loot (June 24 to 30)

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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

Strawberry milk, Gula Melaka chiffon cake #WeekendCooking

The husband was watching something on YouTube the other day and I happened to look over his shoulder and saw this video about Korean strawberry milk and thought, hey the kids would love that.

It was simply a kind of strawberry jam (mashed strawberries cooked with sugar then cooled), and milk, also, some small diced strawberries. I’ve also seen recipes which macerate the sugar and strawberries for an hour. There are other recipes which blitz the strawberries into a puree. But the one I tried was just a simple mashed and cooked strawberry jam, and an additional chopped fresh strawberries.

The kids loved it! They’ve never had fresh strawberry milk – and really, the commercial strawberry milk is quite disgusting and is just pink-coloured sweetened milk.

And since it was Father’s Day, I made a Gula Melaka Pandan chiffon cake. I’ve made quite a few pandan cakes before – and wrote a detailed post here. 

But if those ingredients are new to you, pandan is a fragrant leaf that is used in Southeast Asian foods and sweets – you can use it to flavour rice, curries, make refreshing drinks, it’s also added to cakes and kuehs. It’s very aromatic and somewhat floral despite the fact that it’s just a long thin leaf.

Gula Melaka is palm sugar popular in Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore. It usually comes in a small cylinder block as it is traditionally formed using bamboo moulds. They are usually dark brown in colour and has hints of toffee, caramel. In Singapore, Gula Melaka is in the form of a syrup in many desserts like Ondeh-ondeh, Sago Gula Melaka, Chendol.

This Gula Melaka Pandan cake (recipe here) uses Gula Melaka in place of the sugar, except for the sugar in the whisked egg whites. It wasn’t the easiest thing to do, whisking the egg yolks and the Gula Melaka together, as the Gula Melaka tends to clump together and doesn’t fully dissolve into the whisked yolks as caster sugar would. The recipe does suggest that the egg and Gula Melaka batter can be sieved, to remove the lumps, but I felt that would be such a waste of Gula Melaka (which my parents had brought over from Singapore for me, as it’s not the easiest thing to find in the US). So I left it in, lumps and all.

Usually, lumps would not be a welcome sight in chiffon cakes, but I think this one, with its little bits of undissolved Gula Melaka, was quite unique and delicious. (You can see a small Gula Melaka bit in the cut cake)

Weekend Cooking was started by Beth Fish Reads and is now hosted by The Intrepid Reader and 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 (June 24 to 30)

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.

 

 

Oh wow, we’re heading into the last week of June already! How has your month been so far?

I’ve got my usual random mix of books this week, one romance, one that seems more literary fiction, and one non-fiction.

Clever me, I had borrowed the novella that was #2.5 last week..

A Duke by Default by Alyssa Cole

Award-winning author Alyssa Cole’s Reluctant Royals series continues with a woman on a quest to be the heroine of her own story and the duke in shining armor she rescues along the way

New York City socialite and perpetual hot mess Portia Hobbs is tired of disappointing her family, friends, and—most importantly—herself. An apprenticeship with a struggling swordmaker in Scotland is a chance to use her expertise and discover what she’s capable of. Turns out she excels at aggravating her gruff silver fox boss…when she’s not having inappropriate fantasies about his sexy Scottish burr.

Tavish McKenzie doesn’t need a rich, spoiled American telling him how to run his armory…even if she is infuriatingly good at it. Tav tries to rebuff his apprentice, and his attraction to her, but when Portia accidentally discovers that he’s the secret son of a duke, rough-around-the-edges Tav becomes her newest makeover project.

Forging metal into weapons and armor is one thing, but when desire burns out of control and the media spotlight gets too hot to bear, can a commoner turned duke and his posh apprentice find lasting love?

 

 

Braised Pork by An Yu

One morning in autumn, Jia Jia walks into the bathroom of her Beijing apartment to find her husband – with whom she had been breakfasting barely an hour before – dead in the bathtub. Next to him a piece of paper unfolds like the wings of a butterfly, and on it is an image that Jia Jia can’t forget.

Profoundly troubled by what she has seen, even while she is abruptly released from a marriage that had constrained her, Jia Jia embarks on a journey to discover the truth of the sketch. Starting at her neighbourhood bar, with its brandy and vinyl, and fuelled by anger, bewilderment, curiosity and love, Jia Jia travels deep into her past in order to arrive at her future.

Braised Pork is a cinematic, often dreamlike evocation of nocturnal Beijing and the high plains of Tibet, and an exploration of myth-making, loss, and a world beyond words, which ultimately sees a young woman find a new and deeper sense of herself.

 

 

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

A powerful true story about the potential for mercy to redeem us, and a clarion call to fix our broken system of justice—from one of the most brilliant and influential lawyers of our time.

Bryan Stevenson was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system. One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young man who was sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didn’t commit. The case drew Bryan into a tangle of conspiracy, political machination, and legal brinksmanship—and transformed his understanding of mercy and justice forever.

Just Mercy is at once an unforgettable account of an idealistic, gifted young lawyer’s coming of age, a moving window into the lives of those he has defended, and an inspiring argument for compassion in the pursuit of true justice.

 

What did you get from your library this week?

 

It’s Monday (June 22, 2020)

Whee! Week one of summer break is done with…nine (I think) weeks to go!

How have we filled our days? With some baking and cooking, some chores, lots of reading and screen time (the boys are into Minecraft, Pokemon Go, they also like to do some coding games, and I get to work on some educational websites like Brainpop and IXL).

We actually met up with classmates at a park. It was very proper, we kept it to under 12 people (4 families), wore masks, stay outdoors, tried to keep our distance (at least the adults managed, it was a bit harder for the kids. The 9-year-olds joked about how they could play 6 feet tag or get the parents to tag the kids. The 7-year-olds were off doing their own thing under the trees, trying to climb trees, running around, tiring themselves out). It was nice to have them spend a couple of hours with their friends, and also for me to hang out with the parents (we all have two kids in the same grades, and in the same Mandarin immersion programme, of which there are only two classes in each grade, so it’s a close-knit community).

This week, the kids are doing a free virtual art camp. Hope they’ll find it fun.

Meanwhile, last week…

 

One thing we’ve been doing every day (or almost every day) is taking a walk together.

 

One of their friends had a Minecraft birthday party. The kids played Minecraft together for 2+ hours while also on Zoom. They had a blast!

 

 

Saturday night sushi

 

 

Picked up some beauties from the farmers market.

 

 

 

 

Currently…

Reading:

The Glass Hotel – Emily St John Mandel

Watching:

upload

Upload on Amazon Video.

After seeing the trailer a few times (Amazon likes to put them in front of other shows you’re watching), I decided to watch the first episode and I was surprised to discover that I really liked it. It’s an interesting concept – when people die, they get “uploaded” to a virtual community, kinda like a retirement village of sorts. The main character is a woman working as an “angel” or customer service rep for the company, helping out the various uploads in the community. Her latest client is a young guy who died mysteriously in a self-driving-car crash. The new tech is all relatively relatable, something I could easily see in our nearish future although the show is set in 2033 and I doubt a lot of it will be available by then! The show is admittedly a bit bleak (since it’s full of characters that are essentially dead), but then again I was a fan of things like Dead Like Me and Pushing Daisies (featuring reapers, a guy with the ability to revive dead things – including people). 

Listening:

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. I’m really enjoying this audiobook, narrated by Anthony Heald who delivers it very much like a stage play.

Eating: 

Homemade pandan cake

Drinking:

Tea with milk

Last week:

I read:

Once Ghosted, Twice Shy – Alyssa Cole
Mooncakes – Suzanne Walker

I posted:

Library Loot (June 17 to 23)

Books on my summer TBR #TopTenTuesday

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 (June 17 to 23)

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.

Hey, it’s Wednesday again, and that means it’s time to share your Library Loot with us! Claire has the link-up this week. 

crimeandpunishment

Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky (audiobook)

What was I thinking really? I don’t know. I already have talked about how I’ve been finding it hard to read more serious books and here I am, having borrowed this classic. But it is an audiobook so I have hopes, and also I wanted to have something to listen to while I crochet.

Raskolnikov, a destitute and desperate former student, wanders through the slums of St Petersburg and commits a random murder without remorse or regret. He imagines himself to be a great man, a Napoleon: acting for a higher purpose beyond conventional moral law. But as he embarks on a dangerous game of cat and mouse with a suspicious police investigator, Raskolnikov is pursued by the growing voice of his conscience and finds the noose of his own guilt tightening around his neck. Only Sonya, a downtrodden prostitute, can offer the chance of redemption.

mysummeroflove

My Summer of Love and Misfortune – Lindsay Wong

Unfortunately, it was only after I got this hold that I realised this book doesn’t have great ratings on Goodreads. A pity, as it looks cute and also, it’s a Chinese-American YA tale, definitely something that I would read. Well, I’m just going to give it a go anyway!

Iris Wang is having a bit of a rough start to her summer. In an attempt to snap her out of her funk, Iris’s parents send her away to visit family in Beijing, with the hopes that Iris will “reconnect with her culture” and “find herself.” Iris resents her parents’ high-handedness, but even she admits that this might be a good opportunity to hit the reset button.

Iris expects to eat a few dumplings, meet some of her family, and visit a tourist hotspot or two. What she doesn’t expect is to meet a handsome Mandarin-language tutor named Frank and to be swept up in the ridiculous, opulent world of Beijing’s wealthy elite, leading her to unexpected and extraordinary discoveries about her family, her future, and herself.

Books on my summer TBR #TopTenTuesday

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is:

Books on My Summer 2020 TBR

 

Well, summer is pretty much a stay-home edition this year, our flight to Singapore has been canceled (and there would be a two-week quarantine period anyway, which renders the holiday a stay-home version too), and we have no other plans for travel as we are still cautious about how things are going.

So the best way to spend summer is to armchair travel!

Here are some books that will take me around the world. And as you may know, I tend to have an interest in books by Asian authors so there may be more books set in Asia here.

What are some of your favourite places to armchair travel to?

 

everythinginside

Everything Inside by Edwidge Danticat

I love Danticat’s writing. And this one is a collection of short stories set in a variety of places like Miami, Haiti.

bangkokwakes

Bangkok Wakes to Rain by Pitchaya Sudbanthad

Thailand is one of my favourite places to visit. I’ve been to quite a few cities – Bangkok, Koh Samui, Phuket, Chiang Mai

 

 

Record of a Night Too Brief by Hiromi Kawakami

Japanese short stories

ifihadyourface

 

If I Had Your Face by Frances Cha

Set in South Korea

 

 

The Weight of our Sky by Hanna Alkaf

A Malaysian story

Sharks in the Time of Saviors by Kawai Strong Washburn

Set in Hawaii

And the Stars were Burning Brightly by Danielle Jawando

By a British author

 


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.