It’s Monday and what a weekend that was!


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


Hey and happy Monday to you. Did you guys join the readathon? This was the first time I tried to update in too many places at once and essentially neglected this very blog! In the end I just stuck to Instagram and Litsy. I even won a prize on Litsy for this spine poetry post I did!

I’m gonna be lazy here and just add some screenshots of my readathon day. I didn’t really manage to read that much – two comics and one book! I did however eat a really good burger, bought some Nespresso pods, picked up some spices and vegetables from a South Asian supermarket, marinate some chicken thighs and drumsticks with a tandoori-yoghurt marinade and prepare for the Sunday lunch we had invited some friends to.














Jay Chou



Homemade tandoori chicken and basmati rice for dinner with a cucumber and cilantro raita




Well I just made this tandoori-style chicken (using a boxed tandoori spice mix I found at an Indian supermarket), as well as a basmati rice and cucumber raita, for some friends who came over. We had regular chicken wings, grilled veg and naan for the kids.

Oven-roasted brussels sprouts, maybe with sweet potatoes and pork chop

But am also tempted by this roast chicken and cabbage sheet pan dinner. I’ve not thought of putting cabbage in the oven before, so am really curious!


3 Shirley Jackson releases to celebrate her birthday (Book Riot)

16 books that will give you nightmares (Goodreads Blog)

10 small press books to read (Lit Hub)

This amazing interview with the fantastic Ursula K Le Guin (the New Yorker)


Last week:

I read:

Mr Penumbra’s 24 hour bookstore – Robin Sloan

Dark Matter – Blake Crouch

Hot Milk – Deborah Levy

I posted:

Readathon October 2016

Ready for the Readathon

TLC Book Tours: Spot 12

RIP XI: Dark Matter



Readathon October 2016

Hour 0 – Opening Meme
Happy readathon day!
1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?

The San Francisco Bay Area. It is 5 am and I am possibly not awake yet. Or I may be awake but reading in bed, trying not to wake the husband (who has been sick), and hoping the boys don’t get up so early!

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to? 

Giant Days! And erm well all these lovely e-books. 

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to? 
I love chocolate and was pleased to find that Costco has this box of Neuhaus chocolates! It’s probably meant to be given as a Christmas gift (as it’s got a fancy Christmassy red box) but nope, this is just all for me. Except the white chocolate. That is not for me as I prefer dark chocolate.
4) Tell us a little something about yourself! 
This is my 6th readathon and I still have no idea what to say here. So for something different, how about this…
I do most of my reading at night when my kids go to bed at 830.
Oh and earlier this year, I changed my blog name from Olduvai Reads (which I had for ages – long story) to Real Life Reading.
5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?
One thing I’m doing different is posting on Litsy! I’m a bit of a Litsy addict so I post far more there than I do here these days….

Ready for the Readathon



Oh boy, the weekend! It’s almost here! And I’ve completely neglected to update this blog to actually mention the READATHON. Of course I’ve talked about it to no end on Litsy (because I am always on Litsy nowadays!). But I better write a little bit here too, because, well, this is my blog after all!

library e-books

So here is my lot of books! I cannot wait to read them!


Giant Days Vol 1 and 2 – John Allison, Lissa Treiman (Illustrator), Whitney Cogar (Colors)

Rat Queens, Vol. 3: Demons – Kurtis J. Wiebe, Tamra Bonvillain (Illustrator), Tess Fowler (Illustrator)
Superman/Supergirl: Maelstrom – Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray , Phil Noto (Illustrator)

Bollywood Affair – Dev Sonali

Re Jane – Patricia Park

Shadowshaper – Daniel Jose Older

Love is the Drug – Alaya Dawn Johnson

The Between – Tananarive Due

Salvation of a Saint – Keigo Higashino


TLC Book Tours: Spot 12




Spot 12 is a story that takes place mostly in a hospital. The title is taken from the location of the baby’s spot in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
When Asa was born her condition was unstable. She was whisked away to the NICU and Jaeckel was unable to hold her or even see her for long. The next time she saw Asa was before Asa’s surgery. It later turns out that Asa was born with a malformed esophagus (TEF) which occurs only in one in 3000-4000 live births, rarer than heart defects. This meant that Asa’s esophagus didn’t continue on to her stomach. Instead part of her esophagus was attached to her trachea.

Much like Maus, this graphic memoir uses small animals (mice, dogs) as the characters. But unlike most graphic memoirs/novels, speech bubbles aren’t used much. Instead a lot of the story takes place in a box above the image, even though it’s told from the author’s perspective. It was a different style and it also made me wonder, maybe it should just have been written as a text-only book instead? There is so much text going on that it seems to defeat the purpose of all those graphic sometimes. Often, I felt that the text and the illustrations were very disconnected, perhaps because the text was all situated in a box above the illustration, like they were very separate.

That said, there were some moments where the illustrations really stood out and spoke for themselves, especially when she plays with lots of black in the panels.

Spot 12 fills the reader with emotion. Sadness at the pain this young child had to go through. Gratitude for my own healthy children. It’s a tragic and painful story that this family had to go through, and the strongest moments of the book are when Jaeckel writes and draws about those dark and difficult thoughts she has, as a mother with a baby going through all this pain. But as a graphic memoir, this style didn’t really worked for me.


jenny-jaeckelJenny Jaeckel holds a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington and a Master of Arts in Hispanic Literatures from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. She is a certified interpreter and translator (Spanish) and teaches illustration. She lives in Victoria, Vancouver Island in British Columbia with her husband and daughter.

Jaeckel is the author and illustrator of three graphic memoirs: Spot 12: Five Months in the Neonatal ICU, which won a 2008 Xeric Grant (printed in Canada, to be released in the US in 2016 in both English and Spanish), Siberiak: My Cold War Adventure on the River Ob (published in 2014), and Odd Pieces: Memoir of a Childhood(to be published in 2017). For the Love of Meat: Nine Illustrated Stories is her first collected fiction (2016).

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



Add to Goodreads badge
You can buy Spot 12 on Amazon or Barnes & Noble

tlc logo

I received this book for review from its publisher as part of a TLC Book Tour

Don’t forget to check out the rest of the tour stops

RIP XI: Dark Matter

This was definitely an exciting read. No doubt about it.

The kind of book you open and read and read and then when you’re done it’s 1 am and you can’t sleep. Well perhaps that would be me if I wasn’t such a stickler for my 1030 pm bedtime (I have two kids who are up before 7 even on weekends – I need my sleep!).

Dark Matter has an intriguing beginning. A guy is abducted by an unknown man then wakes up to find himself strapped down to a gurney surrounded by people he doesn’t know. And then he discovers that he is in a world that isn’t his. His wife is not his wife. His son does not exist.

Dun dun dun!! It’s a parallel world!

It felt very much like it was written with a future movie in mind. A lot of action, what is probably an explosive soundtrack with a lot of electric guitars, or maybe that was what was in my head at the time when I was reading this book. (Is that just me?)

Blake Crouch is very fond of short staccato sentences.

A lot of pages read like these few lines.

One after another.

That’s how he seems to like to write.

It’s not really my style.

Unless you’re talking about blogging.

Cos then I could go on writing these sentences



And so Dark Matter makes for a quick and exciting read. One that will have you up all night, if you’re the up-all-night-reading types. One that is suitable enough for RIP, because the main character is definitely (1) imbibing and (2) in peril.

It’s the kind of book that makes me give it 4 stars on Goodreads immediately after reading. But some weeks later, as I think about it, I may knock it down to 3.5 or 3. Because while I was reading it – and really enjoying all its heartracing action – I don’t think I got very involved with its characters. I think that in fact I may have disliked Jason through most of it.

So read this for a quick fun read. Hey the readathon is coming up, and while it’s not exactly a short book at 342 pages, it’ll be a pretty good readathon kind of read, especially when you’re flagging in the middle of the night!


I read this book for Readers Imbibing in Peril XI

(here’s the link to the review site)

It’s Monday and I’m glad it’s a new week


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 was all about adjusting to a schedule without Grandma around. My mum, as I mentioned last week, flew back to Singapore after two months with us! It’s such a big difference not having her here and the kids took a while to get used to it being just me getting them up and ready for school, playtime, lunchtime and all that. And I was so exhausted by the end of the day that by 10 my eyes were closing and not long after I was flat out. 

My older boy caught some kind of stomach bug on Thursday and it was tricky juggling a sick boy and a healthy one who still had to go preschool! Then Friday was forecast to storm, and the wind gushed and moaned and the sky threatened for hours, and the forecast kept getting pushed back. Of course it had to rain during school pickup! 

Saturday was a mellow day. I did manage to make it to the library book sale for a good thirty minutes of browsing and some great books. Admittedly the selection this time wasn’t as fantastic as in summer! But I think I still did ok with a good lot of kids books and fiction for myself, all for about $12. I always go there with the goal of spending at least $20 so I ended up donating the change.





It is Sunday morning and it is drizzling! It is such a pleasure to listen to the rain falling again, after what has been months without.



whatisnotWhat is Not Yours Is Not Yours – Helen Oyeyemi


Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore – Robin Sloan




Sing! China, the final



I had baguette and Brie for Sunday breakfast. I’m more of a savoury breakfast person. How about you? 


Green tea


My five yo doesn’t like mushrooms but this creamy mushroom pasta sounds so good!

A kind of baked pasta with cauliflower and sausages

Fried noodles


Book Riot’s 100 + books for young readers

The largest library in the world – the British Library

I got to use its reading room – after first applying for a Reader Pass, request some materials from it while studying for my MA. Their collection is held in closed stores so you have to first find a table, note your table number, put in a request for whatever book or item you want and then go get it from the counter, i.e. no shelves to browse, no books to be borrowed out. Also, I remember something about only being allowed to use pencils.

This Gruyere mac and cheese sounds so decadent!

Last week:

I read:
Saga Vol 6 – Brian K Vaughan, Fiona Staples
Hot Milk – Deborah Levy
Dark Matter – Blake Crouch

I posted:

Top Ten Tuesday – Book recommendations

Top Ten Tuesday – Book recommendations


This week’s question from the Broke and the Bookish is:


All About Books You Read Because of Recommendation — Ten Books I’ve Read Because Of Another  Blogger (Or Book Person) or Ten Books I Read On Recommendation From People Outside Of This Community or you could talk about recommendations of books you read from other sources — a magazine, a podcast, a “because you read this” algorithm.

I’m going to talk about where I get my book recommendations from, instead of specific books!


Book bloggers

  • Read Diverse Books for great diverse reads, especially with his recent Latin X Heritage month posts!
  • If You Can Read This for diverse reads with a focus on female writers. She’s running a Diverse Detectives Month too!
  • BookDragon, which is run by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center – “books for the multi-culti reader”
  • I pretty much get all my CanLit suggestions from Buried in Print!
  • Pickle Me This for CanLit and great kids books
  • Earl Grey Editing for speculative fiction

Bookish sites

  • Bookriot – especially those lists of 100 books that they randomly do for various topics
  • Lit Hub – lots of great interviews and features
  • The Millions – always a good read


I’m on Litsy several times a day (find me @reallifereading) and my tbr keeps growing thanks to all my bookish friends there!

The library

I like browsing my library’s shelves especially their themed picks. Last month it was music books and there I found Pitch Perfect, the book that inspired the movie. Unfortunately, the book fell a bit short of my expectations.

Real life friends

Sometimes the people I’ve known in real life are the ones that kick me to read books that have been on my TBR list for ages. Like The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, which one of my friends mentioned a few months ago in a WhatsApp conversation!

Where do you get your book recommendations from?