This Will Make Me Instantly Want To Read A Book


Top Ten Things That Will Make Me Instantly Want To Read A Book

  • Works in translation – it always makes me glad to see more works in translation!
  • Own voices – I recently had a prompt on the photo challenge I run on Litsy, “set in Southeast Asia” and despaired a little at the very few books that showed up on Litsy that were by Southeast Asians (true, I did not say “written by Southeast Asians” as I thought that would have been too difficult for many participants). But my point is that if I were to read a book set in, say Thailand, I would prefer it to be by a Thai writer.
  • An unusual setting – countries I’ve never been to like Turkey, Russia, Iceland, Trinidad. Or something set in space or other worlds

  • Comics/graphic novels – the truth is, put something in comic form and I would happily give it a try. Even if it’s by a writer I’ve had no success with previously. Of course I recently had the reverse happen – a writer I’ve adored whose comic book debut was sadly very clichéd. 
  • A great cover – well, who doesn’t judge a book by its cover? Sadly that also works the other way – if it’s a terrible cover, I would tend to shun it, unless I read otherwise about it!
  • Retellings of myths and fairytales

  • International crime series – I am especially intrigued by Japanese crime fiction. Just don’t call Higashino the “Japanese Stieg Larsson”. Gaaaahhh….
  • Recommended by my favourite bloggers and Littens!


What are some things that would make you want to read a book?

It’s Monday and I’m reading The Best We Could Do



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



Happy Easter!

It’s the first day of Spring Break for my boys. Well the Kindergartener’s Spring Break started on Friday so he’s had a nice long weekend too.

On Saturday, we took my in-laws to do some outlet shopping. And good thing too as I needed some sneakers and came away with two pairs, thanks to New Balance’s buy one get one half off sale!




Faefever – Karen Marie Moning

The Best We Could Do – Thi Bui

The Strays – Emily Bitto

Octavia’s Brood


10 Things I Hate About You (which I’ve seen so many times but it’s always fun to rewatch)


Homemade raisin bread


Green tea


I’m intrigued by a steamed chocolate cake (Bake for Happy Kids)

Always love reading Buried in Print’s posts about her reading plans!

Picture books about refugees (Booklist Reader)

You’ve probably seen this already, but the Dublin Literary Prize shortlist is out:

A General Theory of Oblivion by José Eduardo Agualusa, translated from the Portuguese by Daniel Hahn

Confession of the Lioness by Mia Couto, translated from the Portuguese by David Brookshaw

The Green Road by Anne Enright

The Prophets of Eternal Fjord by Kim Leine, translated from the Danish by Martin Aitken

The Story of My Teeth by Valeria Luiselli, translated from the Spanish by  Christina MacSweeney

The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen

Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta

A Strangeness in My Mind by Orhan Pamuk, translated from the Turkish by Ekin Oklap

A Whole Life by Robert Seethaler, translated from the German by Charlotte Collins

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara 

Added to my TBR:

Deerbrook by Harriet Martineau (via Books and Chocolate)

Stormy Seas: Stories of Young Boat Refugees by Mary Beth Leatherdale, illustrated and designed by Eleanor Shakespeare (via Book Dragon)

Last week:

I read:

Serenity: Leaves on the Wind – Zack Whedon (Creator), Fábio Moon (Artist), Dan Dos Santos (Cover Artist), Georges Jeanty (Artist)

Thorn – Intisar Khanani

Wonder Woman Earth One – Grant Morrison (Writer), Yanick Paquette (Artist), Nathan Fairbairn (Colourist), Todd Klein (Letterer)

Angel Catbird Vol 1 – Margaret Atwood

(It was so disappointingly simplistic. I also borrowed Vol 2 from the library and may give it a try, wth extremely low expectations)

I posted:


Kiffe Kiffe Tomorrow

Kiffe Kiffe Tomorrow

Kiffe Kiffe what?

Well, the title is a play on words. Kif-kif is Arabic slang that means “same old, same old” and kiffer (used mainly by young teens in France) kind of means ‘to be crazy for’.

“…it’s just kif-kif tomorrow. Same shit, different day.”


This book is a different look at life in France, one from the perspective of a teenager of Moroccan descent. Her father has returned to Morocco to start a different family there – i.e. one with a son. And so  her mother has to work desperately hard at a housekeeping job in a crappy motel.

“Everyone calls her ‘Fatma’ at the Formula 1. They shout at her all the time, and keep a close watch on her to make sure she doesn’t steal anything from the rooms.

Of course Mom’s name isn’t Fatma, it’s Yasmina. It must really give Monsieur Winner a charge to call all the Arabs ‘Fatma’, all the blacks ‘Mamadou’, and all the Chinese ‘Ping-Pong’. Pretty freaking lame.”

Doria is 15 so you can expect all the usual teenager problems and angst. And being abandoned by her father, she feels lost.

“What a shitty destiny. Fate is all trial and misery and you can’t do anything about it. Basically no matter what you do you’ll always get screwed over.”

But it’s an especially interesting one as she is a young Muslim girl in France. For instance, she has to get her mother to write her note explaining that she won’t be eating in the school cafeteria because it’s Ramadan, and the principal thinks she forged it because her mother’s signature is a poor one.

Her family is poor and they survive on help from their neighbours, the grocer letting them rack up a bill, and this being France, help from the government – social workers come by and Doria even gets access to a psychologist. But it’s not an easy life for Doria, who doesn’t do well in school, doesn’t seem to have many friends, and has to wear horrible hand-me-down clothes. TV is her main escape.

It is perhaps the ordinariness of her life that appeals to me. That she is just a regular teenager living in France, her life isn’t terribly full of drama in the YA sense – some stuff happens to people in the neighbourhood but you wouldn’t find it hard to believe that this happens out there in the world today.

“Once, he told my mom that in ten years on this job, this was the first time he’d seen ‘people like you with only one child.’ He was thinking ‘Arabs,’ but he didn’t say so.”

I don’t read much translated French literature. And I find it difficult to name any contemporary French writers. Muriel Barbery is the only contemporary translated French author whose work I have recently read. (Please enlighten me!).

And perhaps because of this, I felt that it was rather refreshing reading this authentic teenager’s voice by French-Algerian writer Faïza Guène. This first book of hers was published in 2004 when she was just 19 years old. It’s been translated into 22 different languages. Kiffe kiffe demain was translated into English in 2006  under the title Kiffe Kiffe Tomorrow.

She’s had another of her books translated into English, it’s called Men Don’t Cry.

It’s Monday and I’m reading Thorn


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




Well this week was a weird one. The kindergartener stayed home from school on Friday as he wasn’t feeling well and he got a bit worse on Saturday with a bit of a high fever. And then as if the fever was the thing that his body needed, after some fever meds, lots of water and some rest, he was all better.

Of course all better meant that he and the brother were up at 450 talking and giggling loudly. I don’t know about you but when I am woken up at that time, I go into FULL ALERT MODE. My brain is awake and I cannot calm it down. So yes I was awake at 0450 on Sunday. I was also awake at 0530 on Saturday but at least that seems like a more reasonable time.

But you know what, Sunday is a nice sunny day, unlike the past few windy rainy days, everyone seems healthy today, so we might be able to go out today!





Thorn – Intisar Khanani









Bossypants – Tina Fey



I made pancakes for breakfast!


Yorkshire Gold with milk



Ooh look at these fantastic Brazilian covers of Elena Ferrante’s books! I am not a fan of the American covers (via The Casual Optimist)

16 books to read this April (Lit Hub)

Added to my TBR:

No Other World by Rahul Mehta (via BookDragon)

Last week:

I read:

Hag-Seed – Margaret Atwood
Lillian Boxfish Takes A Walk – Kathleen Rooney
Labyrinth Lost – Zoraida Cordova
Serenity: Leaves on the Wind – Zack Whedon (Creator), Fábio Moon (Artist), Dan Dos Santos (Cover Artist), Georges Jeanty (Artist)

I posted:



Back to the Classics: Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?


Ok I love coming into a cult classic like this without a clue of the horrors within.

I know that it’s more of a classic movie than a classic book. In fact, when I posted about the book on Litsy, there were a few people who commented that they didn’t know that it was based on a book. Perhaps the rivalry of Bette Davis and Joan Crawford made the movie even more of a cult classic – there’s a TV series on that now! It’s called The Feud.

This book was destined for the screen. Even from the opening scene, which describes the young Baby Jane, precious spoilt jerk of a child, it’s all laid out so plainly that a reader can easily picture it.

Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? is a thriller, a psychological horror story set in Hollywood, in an aging mansion with two aging sisters, one in a wheelchair dependent on the other.

Jane or “Baby Jane” was a vaudeville child star. A spoilt rotten child (also a spoilt, rotten child). But somehow, as they became adults, it was Blanche, the younger sister, who became a movie star. A runaway success. And poor Baby Jane fades away from collective memory.

Even in middle age, Jane still resents Blanche and her success, even though her sister is now wheelchair-bound after a rather mysterious car accident. Blanche is pretty much stuck upstairs on the second floor, fully dependent on Jane for, well, for everything. And recently, with Blanche’s movies being broadcasted on TV, it seems like Jane’s jealousy is raging. She serves up revenge – on a plate!


Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? is a rather fun read, albeit a bit of a disturbing one. I am really just dying to see the movie now….!



I read this for the Back to the Classics Challenge 2017 – A Gothic or horror classic


It’s Monday and I’m having cake


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


My older boy turned 6 last Friday! He had been eagerly anticipating it all week and couldn’t wait to open all his presents and eat his cake. Of course we had to first get through our usual busy Friday with swim class in the morning, PM kindergarten, a science class after school and playtime in the playground after that. The birthday boy asked for burgers for his birthday meal – specifically In N Out!

He had also asked for a chocolate strawberry cake, so I had been looking around for a good recipe. Finally I combined two I found online. See my Weekend Cooking post for details!


Saturday night chirashi

The 3yo (soon to be 4!) couldn’t wait to start reading this book.





Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney

Mad Men Season 7

Now that I’ve gotten to season 7 I’ve slowed down… I don’t want it to end! That sounds so silly…


Bossypants – Tina Fey

The last audiobook I listened to was Ann Patchett’s This is the Story of a Happy Marriage and I listened to it at 1.25x which was just right for me. But man does Tina Fey talk fast. At 1.25x it feels like it’s 2x.


Yorkshire Gold with milk



A very beautiful short film about the woman who holds the record for Arctic free diving 

12 circus novels (Booklist Reader)

Ursula K Le Guin reviews Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology (The Guardian)

Reader and volunteer signups for the April Dewey’s Readathon are up!


Last week:

I read:
This is the Story of a Happy Marriage – Ann Patchett (Finally! I am so bad at audiobooks but I really enjoyed this collection)
The Woman Next Door – Yewande Omotoso (ADORED IT!)
Superman/Wonder Woman: Power Couple Charles Soule (Writer), Tony S. Daniels (Penciller), Paulo Siqueira (Penciller), Eddie Barrows (Penciller), Barry Kitson (Artist) (From the husband’s collection – I am not a fan of Superman but was attracted to the idea of the two of them being together!)

I posted:

Weekend Cooking: Chocolate Strawberry Cake

Welcome to Lagos by Chibundu Onuzo

In the country we love by Diane Guerrero

Weekend Cooking: Chocolate Strawberry Cake

My older boy turned six on Friday and he had asked for a chocolate strawberry cake.

And the number of recipes online I pored over, trying to find the right recipe. There was this one from Two Peas and their Pod that looked good but didn’t sound quite so right. It was more chocolate than strawberry, I thought. Nothing wrong there but I was looking for a cake with more strawberry frosting. Also the cake layers sounded a bit heavy. I was looking for something far lighter, kind of like a Japanese style or Asian bakery style cake, which usually has sponge-like cake layers.

After quite a few days lost in that Internet search blackhole, I had a sudden thought – last year I had made a pretty good Black Forest cake for the husband’s birthday and the cake layers were easy enough and also nice and light.


I returned to the original recipe which was from the blog Natasha’s Kitchen.

Chocolate cake

9 large eggs, room temp
1 cup granulated sugar (I used slightly less than a cup)
1 cup all-purpose flour (I used cake flour, weighing out 120g which is what 1 cup of flour is equivalent to)
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s special dark cocoa powder)
4 Tbsp (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temp
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (I used 1 tsp)

Preheat oven to 350F /180C

Beat the eggs with the whisk attachment for 1 min on high. With the mixer on, gradually add the sugar and continue beating on high speed for 8 min. It will be thick and fluffy.
Whisk together 1 cup flour and ½ cup cocoa powder and sift into batter, one-third at a time, folding with a spatula between each addition. Once all flour is in, continue to fold just until no streaks of flour remain, scraping the bottom of the bowl to get any pockets of flour; do not over-mix.
Gently fold in the vanilla essence and butter, folding as you add butter in a steady stream and scraping from the bottom. Fold just until incorporated.

Divide batter equally between two prepared 9 inch cake pans and bake in preheated 350F oven 20-25 minutes. It’s important to put it in the oven as soon as possible as the batter may deflate
Let cool in pans for 10 min then run a thin edged spatula around edges to loosen cake. Transfer to a wire rack and remove parchment backing.

When completely cooled, use a serrated knife to slice the cake into layers.

Strawberry frosting (adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction)

I loved this frosting – it uses freeze-dried strawberries (Trader Joe’s always has them, sometimes places like Sprouts do too) and so you don’t have to fuss with fresh strawberries. I had read some comments on other frosting that use fresh strawberries that it can be too watery. So this solves that problem by using freeze-dried strawberries. And yes, they still taste like strawberries. However, I found that the frosting was just too sweet (as a lot of things in the US are for me), so I may reduce the sugar more next time. 

1 cup (10-12g) freeze-dried strawberries

1 cup (235g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature

4 cups (480g) confectioners’ sugar (when making this again, I will cut down the sugar further. I had reduced it to 400g but I think I may try another 25g-50g less)

3 Tablespoons (45ml) heavy cream (I used about 4 tablespoons)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

salt, to taste (I used about 1/2 tsp salt but I would add more, about 1 to 1 1/2 tsp)

Using a blender or food processor, process the freeze-dried strawberries into a powdery crumb. You should have around 1/2 cup. Set aside. No blender or food processor? Then do what I did and place the strawberries in a ziplock and give them plenty of good whacks with a rolling pin. 

In a large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the butter on medium-high speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add confectioners’ sugar, strawberry powder, cream, and vanilla. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then switch to high speed and beat for 2 minutes. Taste. Add a pinch of salt if frosting is too sweet. (I would recommend more than a pinch – consider at least 1 tsp of salt)

To decorate

This cake was to have four layers. And essentially it was a cake – frosting – sliced fresh strawberries (repeat) kind of cake. Ending with whole strawberries on the top of the cake!

The birthday boy had the biggest smile on his face when he saw the cake. And that made all the hard work worth it!


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