It’s Monday and I’m reading non-fiction for a change

 

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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

 

 

Last week the 3yo took his first proper swim class and he loved it. Everyday he asks if it’s his swim class day! Hope he actually learns something…

Otherwise it was the usual busy week. The boys go to school at different times so weekdays are always busy. Preschool drop-off, do some work and play with the 5yo, get him to eat an early lunch, drop him off at Kindergarten, then go pick up the 3yo. Get him to eat lunch, try to get him to nap (not always successful). At 3pm, Kindergarten is over. On Mondays, an afternoon swim class for the 3yo. On Fridays, a 9am swim class for the 5yo. I’m trying to see about adding a tennis class too. And what about music? Martial arts? I don’t want them to do TOO much but at the same time, I want them to be able to try different things and find something that they like! #firstworldproblems

 

 

It was Mid-Autumn Festival (the 15th day of the 8th lunar month) last week. And we had mooncakes, walked outside in the backyard with lanterns and gazed at the full moon.

Trying to read while waiting for swim class

 

At Books Inc in Mountain View

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Sunday night sushi dinner.

Currently…

 

Reading:

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The Maximum Security Book Club – Mikita Brottman

skinfolk

Skin Folk – Nalo Hopkinson

 

 

Watching:

X-men: Apocalypse

I wasn’t fond of the whole ‘Ancient Big Bad” storyline…

 

 

Eating:

Leftover mooncakes! It was Mid-Autumn Festival last week.

Drinking:

Tea

Cooking:

I saw this video for Yaki Curry (Japanese curry baked with cheese!) and am very curious about this mix of curry and cheese….! Although of course Japanese curry isn’t really curry more like stew, in my opinion (but that’s because I like my curries really spicy and more you know, Pakistani/Indian kind of curry)

Browsing:

Lauren Groff: The books in my life (Lit Hub)

10 books featuring subversive women (Lit Hub)

The CBC Books fall reading list! I’ve only read one, The Conjoined, which I thought was a fantastic read!

Manga recs for fall (Bookriot)

Added to my TBR: The Nakano Thrift Shop by Hiromi Kawakami (Yasmine Rose Reads Books)

Book Uncle and Me by Uma Krishnaswami (BookDragon)

18 dinners to make when your pantry is nearly empty (Food 52)

 

Last week:

I read:

When Breath Becomes Air – Paul Kalanithi

(sob sob)

 

I posted:

RIP XI: Akata Witch 

TLC Book Tours – The Yard

 

RIP XI: Akata Witch 

Nnedi Okorafor’s books are always such a treat.

Akata Witch is the story of Sunny, born in America but who now lives in Nigeria with her brothers and parents.

“I’m Nigerian by blood, American by birth, and Nigerian again because I live here. I have West African features, like my mother, but while the rest of my family is dark brown, I’ve got light yellow hair, skin the color of “sour milk” (or so stupid people like to tell me), and hazel eyes that look like God ran out of the right color. I’m albino.”

Sunny confuses people. She doesn’t fit in. Not at school, where she is called “akata” which means “bush animal” and is used to refer to black Americans or foreign-born blacks. She doesn’t really fit in at home either – her dad doesn’t seem to know what to do with her.

Then she becomes friends with Orlu, a boy in her school, who introduces her to Chichi, a rather strange girl who lives in a  house full of books. And they reveal that they are Leopard People, powerful, magical. And that she too is one, except that she is a “free agent”. That is, despite her parents being ordinary folk, she is in a Leopard spirit line, and that she had magical abilities too, abilities that need to be unlocked and developed.

There is a whole world out there just for Leopard People. A place called Leopard Knocks with shops, restaurants and the Obi Library. For Leopard People, it’s all about learning.

She has to learn, to study juju, spells, magic. And this is on top of all the studying she already has to do for school. Add to that the sneaking around because she can’t tell anyone else about her newfound magical abilities, or the Leopard People.

Young and inexperienced as she is, she – and three other Leopard People friends- are tasked to catch a serial killer.

It’s such a fun read, as we explore this new world with Sunny, learn about her powers and this strange new double life she leads. Also there’s that element of darkness and danger lurking, not just with the serial killer, but all the tasks and skills training she goes through. Even a visit to a mentor’s house could be deadly!

And this magical world that Okorafor has created! One with an artist wasp that creates sculptures out of things it finds in nature like crumbs or mud – and will sting you if you don’t appreciate its work! The way Leopard People earn money, called chittim – when they learn something, the gold coins fall from the sky and land at their feet!

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Akata Witch reminded me a lot of Zahrah the Windseeker (another fab read), in its strong young female character and fascinating world, and in this article with SFWA, Okorafor explains:

But they’ll also find that all my novels are connected, they are telling one big story. Akata Witch is a prequel to The Shadow SpeakerZahrah the Windseeker is directly linked the Who Fears Death. There is technology in Who Fears Death that is more explained in The Shadow SpeakerThe Shadow Speaker shares characters with Zahrah the Windseeker. The Nigerian writing script Nsibidi plays a pivotal role in Who Fears DeathZahrah the Windseeker and Akata Witch. Aro (from Who Fears Death), The Desert Magician (from The Shadow Speaker), Papa Grip (Zahrah the Windseeker), Long Juju Man (from Long Juju Man), Junk Man (from Akata Witch) — he shows up in all of my novels in various forms.

Also, good news! Akata Witch has a sequel coming out soon!

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I read this book for Readers Imbibing in Peril XI

(here’s the link to the review site)

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Akilah’s Diversity on the Shelf 

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 Read Diverse Books Year-Round

TLC Book Tours – The Yard

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This is a book with such potential.

I was immediately drawn to it by its setting – Trinidad and Tobago. And a wealthy Indo-Muslim  family whose ancestors first settled there as indentured labourers.

It opens intriguingly. Father Khalid visits an old relative, discovers she is long deceased, but there is a strange young boy sitting in her house, covered with flies, scared, alone. He brings him to his home, to his family of a wife and young daughters, adopts him and gives him the name of Behrooz. But the families of Father Khalid’s siblings, who also live in the Yard, are wary and unaccepting of Behrooz.

Behrooz develops a friendship with Father Khalid’s second daughter Maya, rebellious and headstrong. This turns into something a bit more than a friendship and after a night together, Maya flees for the anonymity of London.

This dramatic story is an exploration of religion, tolerance, of keeping a family together.

When I say this book has potential, I meant that while it is set in a very different place, that is, of Trinidad and Tobago, and from the perspective of an East Indian Muslim family, the story takes place largely within this compound of The Yard. The family rarely ventures out, and as a result, the reader doesn’t either. And that is such a pity, as this is one of the few novels that are set in Trinidad and Tobago, but other than an introduction to the family’s history in the country, I felt like the story was too enclosed in the Yard.

I understand what the writer is trying to do with the book, that is, the Yard, the family, that isolation. But I think in this case, too much happens within the Yard. People arrive, people disappear. And with so many characters, a family tree would have helped sort them out better.

I feel like I am being very critical of this book. I am not a professional book reviewer. I accept these books for review on my blog but I never know if anyone reads these reviews. And I do want to be honest, especially with a story that has potential. It could have used a more experienced editor who could have guided this debut author with a more confident hand, pointed out some awkward turns of phrases, and tried to rein in some tropes and constructed a more solid character in Maya.

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I received this book for review from its publisher and TLC Book Tours

Check out the rest of the tour stops here
aliyyah

Aliyyah Eniath was born in Trinidad and Tobago; her ancestors hailed from Uttar Pradesh, India. She’s a director at Safari Publications, a magazine publishing house, and founder/editor-in- chief of Belle Weddings (Caribbean) magazine.

Her debut novel The Yard (literary, romance) is published by Speaking Tiger Books in both paperback and ebook formats.

She explores the ideas of breaking free from imposed boundaries (familial or otherwise), understanding and feeling supported in who you are, overcoming self-doubt, and finally being true to yourself. Her writing looks at strict religious ideologies and their potential consequences and begs for a softer approach and innate understanding and compassion towards every human being.

She writes from the perspective of East Indians whose forefathers were brought to Trinidad from India through the British colonial indentureship scheme in 1845.

Find out more about Aliyyah at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

It’s Monday and I’ve just finished Akata Witch

 

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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

 

 

Recently, a friend’s former colleague from Singapore moved to the same city as us and yesterday they came over for lunch. It was nice to meet them and chat about things, their younger daughter is just a few months older than my older boy, so the kids got along quite well. Only thing is when they were playing ball out in the backyard, my 3yo tripped and fell on his cheek. So he’s sporting quite a bruise on the side of his eye! Luckily it doesn’t seem to bother him, except this morning when he looked in the mirror and asked, what’s that on my face?!

Other things this week: 

 

 

Currently…

 

Reading:

 

whenbreath

 

 

Watching:

Still watching Shameless! I did try watching the first episode of Quantico. Not sure if I will watch more though. I’m not very fond of the ‘falsely accused of doing something’ kind of scenarios

Listening:

Man it has been a long time since I’ve listened to an audiobook. My mornings are now consumed with my freelance writing project. Which means I haven’t been exercising!

 

Eating:

Am writing this on Sunday afternoon. Just had Korean food for lunch.

Drinking:

Barley tea.

Cooking:

 

If I can remember to buy some beef then bibimbap.

Also some kind of sheet pan chicken drumsticks with sweet potatoes and maybe broccoli?

Browsing:

Lots of book bloggers’ predictions for the Man Booker shortlist! The actual shortlist will be revealed on Tuesday.

Nonsuch Book

Dolce Bellezza

Shelf Love

Over at Stuck in a Book, the 1947 Club

Big words on book covers (The Booklist Reader)

The Great Booksellers Fall 2016 preview (Lit Hub)

Added to my TBR list:

Hurma by Ali Al-Muqri (via ANZ Litlovers)

 

 

Last week:

I read:

Akata Witch! SO GOOD!

 

I posted:

It’s Tuesday and what a great weekend that was!

 

 

It’s Tuesday and what a great weekend that was!

It was Labor Day weekend and we drove up to the North Bay for a nice two-night stay in wine country. Most people who go up to wine country actually you know drink wine, do wine tastings, that sort of thing. But we have two kids five and under and so our version of a wine country weekend is a very different one.

Saturday

We take a slow drive to Point Reyes Station where we have a so-so lunch at Station House Cafe and wander around this little town. Farmers market. Fancy food store. And more importantly a very nice bookstore, Point Reyes Books, where I picked up some books for the kids.


We drive up to see the lighthouse but parking is horrendous and it is really cold and blustery. And the kids were having none of it. The walk to the lighthouse was out of the question then! Instead we drove out to Drakes Beach where it was still cold and blustery but there was a little bookstore to hide out in.
The North Bay always amazes me with its number of bookstores. Every little town that we go through has an indie bookstore although we weren’t able to stop at them all.


Even this little store on a beach that’s quite a drive from the nearest town (which is itself a tiny town)

We stay in Windsor which like all self-respecting North Bay towns (or so it seems) , it has a little bookstore. The kids promptly find some favourites and the 3yo even grabs himself a seat on which to read. I buy RK Narayan’s The Man-eater of Malgudi. I had been wanting to read something by Narayan but my library doesn’t seem to have anything.
Armstrong Woods was our first stop on Sunday. The husband and I had been here before, years ago when we had gotten engaged. But i really liked being able to show the kids the gorgeous towering redwoods. It was kinda chilly though and they were getting hungry so we made our way to Graton for brunch. Then it was off to the Pacific Coast Air Museum for a really hot afternoon walking around and seeing airplanes and helicopters. It was a pretty exciting place but just way too hot! So we went back to the hotel to cool down in the pool

We had a fabulous dinner at Campo Fina in Healdsburg. Loved my Liberty Duck pasta and the antipasti platter was delicious.

We hadn’t really planned our Monday. It was more of a ok check out from the hotel then what? situation. With Glen Ellen just 35 minutes away I couldn’t pass up a visit to the Jack London State Park. London may have been famous for his world travels but he owned this piece of land, formerly a winery, in the hopes of becoming a rancher. He built a 15,000 sq ft house with 26 rooms. Spent $80,000 on it (apparently about $2.1m today) but never lived in it as it was burnt down before they even moved in. The ruins can be seen in the last photo. What a house it could have been. London’s ashes as well as his wife’s are buried near Wolf House.

Weekend Cooking: The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

It’s been a while since I’ve read a food book.

Or at least it feels like a while.

On a WhatsApp chat with my friends in Singapore – we’ve known each other for 20+ years since we were in teenagers in secondary school – one of my friends mentioned Aimee Bender’s The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake.

And that was the kick I needed to finally read this book.

(That got me thinking, what is it that kicks a book up my TBR list, where it has been sitting for years and years? A friend’s recommendation, that’s what. If not a real-life friend then an online friend, a fellow reader whose recs I am familiar with and trust).

Anyway, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake has a different take on things, in terms of food books.

Rose Edelstein, on her ninth birthday, suddenly discovers she has an unusual gift – she can taste emotions through the food people make. This she learns as she bites into the chocolate lemon birthday cake her mother has made.

“I could absolutely taste the chocolate, but in drifts and traces, in an unfurling, or an opening, it seemed that my mouth was also filling with the taste of smallness, the sensation of shrinking, of upset, tasting a distance I somehow knew was connected to my mother, tasting a crowded sense of her thinking, a spiral, like I could almost even taste the grit in her jaw that had created the headache that meant she had to take as many aspirins as were necessary, a white dotted line of them in a row on the nightstand like an ellipsis to her comment: I’m just going to lie down….”

She can taste the drug and alcohol issues in the maple syrup, and the angst and depression in a classmate’s sandwich. And the secrets, oh, all the secrets in her mother’s cooking.

So it’s no wonder she prefers and worships factory made food. Doritos. Frozen waffles. Potato chips. Faceless, emotionless food.

You kinda know where the story is going, at least in terms of her family life. But Bender does take the reader on an extremely sharp curve when she leads us along with Rose’s brother’s story. I mean, I thought Rose was strange enough, but Joseph? Woah. That was truly bizarre.

(And yet, some part of it, totally understandable. If you’ve read the book, you may know what I mean, but I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t. But it’s been something that I cannot forget, weird, since this is more of Rose’s story than Joseph’s.)

I admired how Bender brought the LA neighborhood to life, where screenwriters lived in big apartment complexes and “stood out on balconies as I walked home from school, smoking afternoon cigarettes, and I knew someone had gotten work when the moving vans showed up. That, or they’d worn through their savings.
I adored the quirkiness, the surrealness, and just that little sprinkling of magic, of pixie dust, that Bender adds to the book. So that it is weird but not completely totally bamboozled out of your mind weird. That it still feels real, even with Joseph and what happens to him, that feeling of it being all too much, his way of coping with it.

This book, I didn’t really know what to expect with this book. And I think it’s a book that some people might not know what to do with, because it’s not completely out there enough for some, and maybe too quirky for others. Or not ‘foodie’ enough. But for me, this is a story about a young girl growing up, learning about herself, learning about her family and all its troubles. And it was a great read, with some stunning writing. For me it was such a refreshing treat, like lemon cake.

 

weekendcooking

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

A Diverse list for Readers Imbibing in Peril #ripxi

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RIP or Readers Imbibing in Peril is in its 11th year! It was first started by Carl of Stainless Steel Droppings, and last year was hosted by Andi and Heather of the Estella Society. Carl is back hosting it again this year!

This fall reading challenge is all about books of:

Mystery.
Suspense.
Thriller.
Dark Fantasy.
Gothic.
Horror.
Supernatural.

Or anything sufficiently moody that shares a kinship with the above.

I always go with Peril The First:

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Read four books, of any length, from the very broad categories earlier defined as perilous. They could all be by the same author, a series of books, a random mix of classic and contemporary or whatever you like.

I’ve taken part for quite a few years now but this year I’ve decided to write up a list of POC authors whose works fit into those categories above. I’m still working on this list, so please let me know if you have any recommendations!

Octavia Butler

NK Jemisin

Nnedi Okorafor

Nalo Hopkinson
(For these four writers, I’m gonna say, pretty much all their work fits in!)

Tananarive Due (I loved The Good House)

Attica Locke (Pleasantville and The Cutting Season)

Helen Oyeyemi 

Natsuo Kirino – Grotesque; Real World; Out

Asa Nonami – The Hunter

Keigo Higashino -I’m reading his latest translated work, Under the Midnight Sun, right now. It is massive but I CANNOT PUT IT DOWN. Also The Devotion of Suspect X

Liu Xiaolong – Inspector Chen series

Han Kang – The Vegetarian

Ken Liu – The Paper Menagerie and other stories

Zen Cho (Sorcerer to the Crown)

Yangtze Choo (Ghost Bride)

Daina Chaviano

Alain Mabanckou (Memoirs of a Porcupine)

Those whose books I’ve yet to read

Indra Das
Hao Jingfang
Cixin Liu
Alaya Dawn Johnson
Malinda Lo
Shizuko Netsuke
Miyuki Miyabe
Koji Suzuki

Kazuhiro Kiuchi

Are you taking part in RIP IX?? Also, here is the RIP IX review site!