Posts by Sharlene

Reader. Book blogger. Parent. Eater of foods aplenty. Tea drinker. Crocheter

It’s Monday

 

 

 

 

It’s been such a dry February here in the Bay Area. Not good for us as it’s supposed to be the rainy season.

Had dinner at Dog Haus and I fell in love with their Thai Fighter which has a super spicy sausage with arugula, a spicy basil pesto, and pickled jalapeños. Delicious.

Made some baguettes too. Will be putting up a post later this week.

 

 

Currently…

I’m typing this out while (painfully) helping the 6yo with piano practice.

Reading:

 

A Song for a New Day – Sarah Pinsker

I’m loving this dystopian read with a music focus.

 

 

Watching:

Season 3 of The Chef Show. I really enjoy the Roy Choi-Jon Favreau collaboration.

Listening:

Five Days at Memorial – Sheri Fink

Not an easy one to listen to

Eating:

I made steel cut oatmeal for breakfast

Drinking:

Nespresso with milk

Cooking:

Japchae or Korean sweet potato noodles probably with sliced beef and lots of vegetables like carrots, cabbage, mushrooms

Last week:

I read:

Let Me Hear a Rhyme – Tiffany D Jackson

Dutch House – Ann Patchett

Stargazing – Jen Wang

I posted:

Library Loot (February 19 to 25)

Tuesday musings (Autumn Light by Pico Iyer)

 

 

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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 (February 19 to 25)

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!

How’s your week going so far? I’ve got quite a mixed Library Loot haul this week but it looks like a lot of great reads. Happy reading!

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett

At the end of the Second World War, Cyril Conroy combines luck and a single canny investment to begin an enormous real estate empire, propelling his family from poverty to enormous wealth. His first order of business is to buy the Dutch House, a lavish estate in the suburbs outside of Philadelphia. Meant as a surprise for his wife, the house sets in motion the undoing of everyone he loves.

The story is told by Cyril’s son Danny, as he and his older sister, the brilliantly acerbic and self-assured Maeve, are exiled from the house where they grew up by their stepmother. The two wealthy siblings are thrown back into the poverty their parents had escaped from and find that all they have to count on is one another. It is this unshakable bond between them that both saves their lives and thwarts their futures.

Set over the course of five decades, The Dutch House is a dark fairy tale about two smart people who cannot overcome their past. Despite every outward sign of success, Danny and Maeve are only truly comfortable when they’re together. Throughout their lives, they return to the well-worn story of what they’ve lost with humor and rage. But when at last they’re forced to confront the people who left them behind, the relationship between an indulged brother and his ever-protective sister is finally tested.

 

Bloom by Kevin Panetta

Now that high school is over, Ari is dying to move to the big city with his ultra-hip band—if he can just persuade his dad to let him quit his job at their struggling family bakery. Though he loved working there as a kid, Ari cannot fathom a life wasting away over rising dough and hot ovens. But while interviewing candidates for his replacement, Ari meets Hector, an easygoing guy who loves baking as much as Ari wants to escape it. As they become closer over batches of bread, love is ready to bloom . . . that is, if Ari doesn’t ruin everything.

Writer Kevin Panetta and artist Savanna Ganucheau concoct a delicious recipe of intricately illustrated baking scenes and blushing young love, in which the choices we make can have terrible consequences, but the people who love us can help us grow.

Let Me Hear a Rhyme by Tiffany D Jackson

Biggie Smalls was right. Things done changed. But that doesn’t mean that Quadir and Jarrell are okay letting their best friend Steph’s tracks lie forgotten in his bedroom after he’s killed—not when his beats could turn any Bed-Stuy corner into a celebration, not after years of having each other’s backs.

Enlisting the help of Steph’s younger sister, Jasmine, Quadir and Jarrell come up with a plan to promote Steph’s music under a new rap name: The Architect. Soon, everyone in Brooklyn is dancing to Steph’s voice. But then his mixtape catches the attention of a hotheaded music rep and—with just hours on the clock—the trio must race to prove Steph’s talent from beyond the grave.

Now, as the pressure—and danger—of keeping their secret grows, Quadir, Jarrell, and Jasmine are forced to confront the truth about what happened to Steph. Only each has something to hide. And with everything riding on Steph’s fame, together they need to decide what they stand for before they lose everything they’ve worked so hard to hold on to—including each other.

Stargazing by Jen Wang

When Moon’s family moves in next door to Christine’s, Moon goes from unlikely friend to best friend―maybe even the perfect friend. The girls share their favorite music videos, paint their toenails when Christine’s strict parents aren’t around, and make plans to enter the school talent show together. Moon even tells Christine her deepest secret: that she sometimes has visions of celestial beings who speak to her from the stars. Who reassure her that earth isn’t where she really belongs.

But when they’re least expecting it, catastrophe strikes. After relying on Moon for everything, can Christine find it in herself to be the friend Moon needs?

New York Times–bestselling author-illustrator Jen Wang draws on her childhood to paint a deeply personal yet wholly relatable friendship story that’s at turns joyful, heart-wrenching, and full of hope

 

 

 

What did you get from your library this week?

 

Tuesday musings (Autumn Light by Pico Iyer)

I was just thinking about the book I’ve been slowly reading – slow reading is required for Autumn Light as it is the kind of book that makes you pause and think, it’s the kind of read where you want to pace yourself, enjoying the moment, enjoying the scenery that Iyer paints for his readers, of Japan, of his life in Japan.

It has been many years since I’ve been in Japan. I’m sure so much of it must have changed, and yet plenty has remained the same. I have such strong memories of the trip, although the guy I went with is someone I’m no longer in touch with.

And I can picture the people and the places Iyer writes about so easily, even though I’ve never been to the neighborhood he lives in.

The book makes me think of my dear friend in Japan. We met as flatmates at graduate school in the UK and she is still one of my good friends today, although I haven’t seen her since she attended my wedding in Singapore. She was the first person in the university housing I talked to, and she shared her dinner with me that very first night that I arrived (she had arrived a couple of weeks before, to take up English classes). And every Christmas she makes sure to mail me some tea and snacks from Japan.

It is not by the light of autumn that I write this. It’s still winter in Northern California but it has been a very mild and unfortunately dry one. It’s currently 21C at 3pm and I’m watching the shadows grow longer in the backyard. My Japanese maple tree is still bare and I am looking forward to seeing it’s splendid red leaves again. But I can’t help wondering if I’m taking care of it properly. I am no gardener and I marvel that things actually bear fruit in my backyard.

So this is Tuesday and I realize this isn’t quite a usual post from me. But I hope your week’s going well. What have you been up to?

It’s Monday

 

Happy Monday! And to those in the US, Happy President’s Day. The kids have the day off school today and we are off to do fun things. Hope you had a great weekend.

 

Some things we did last week…

Played tennis

Ate some Hainanese chicken rice

 

 

 

 

Currently…

 

Reading:

A Song for a New day – Sarah Pinsker

Watching:

Ainori: Asian Journey (Netflix)

3 girls and 4 guys (yeah more guys to girls here) take a trip around Asia in a cute pink van and try to find love.

Listening:

 

Eating:

Toasted homemade bread with butter for breakfast

Drinking:

Tea

Cooking:

Last night we made sushi for dinner. And had some sashimi too.

Last week:

I read:


Bloodlust and Bonnets – Emily McGovern

The Wedding Party – Jasmine Guillory

 

I posted:

 

Library Loot (February 12 to 18)

 

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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 (February 12 to 18)

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.

 

I went to the library on Monday, having skipped last week’s (physical) library visit because of a bad migraine that had me in bed most of the day (luckily the husband was able to work from home and do all the school pickups and drop-offs).

And on Sunday, the 6yo asked me, “Mummy, can you please go to the library tomorrow? We need new books!” What could I do with a request like that except to head to the library to pick up books for them?

Also, of course, some for myself.

Claire has the link-up this week. 


Autumn Light: Season of Fire and Farewells – Pico Iyer

Returning to his longtime home in Japan after his father-in-law’s sudden death, Pico Iyer picks up the steadying patterns of his everyday rites: going to the post office and engaging in furious games of ping-pong every evening. But in a country whose calendar is marked with occasions honoring the dead, he comes to reflect on changelessness in ways that anyone can relate to: parents age, children scatter, and Iyer and his wife turn to whatever can sustain them as everything falls away. As the maple leaves begin to turn and the heat begins to soften, Iyer shows us a Japan we have seldom seen before, where the transparent and the mysterious are held in a delicate balance, and where autumn reminds us to take nothing for granted.


A Song for a New Day – Sarah Pinsker

In the Before, when the government didn’t prohibit large public gatherings, Luce Cannon was on top of the world. One of her songs had just taken off and she was on her way to becoming a star. Now, in the After, terror attacks and deadly viruses have led the government to ban concerts, and Luce’s connection to the world–her music, her purpose–is closed off forever. She does what she has to do: she performs in illegal concerts to a small but passionate community, always evading the law. Rosemary Laws barely remembers the Before times. She spends her days in Hoodspace, helping customers order all of their goods online for drone delivery–no physical contact with humans needed. By lucky chance, she finds a new job and a new calling: discover amazing musicians and bring their concerts to everyone via virtual reality. The only catch is that she’ll have to do something she’s never done before and go out in public. Find the illegal concerts and bring musicians into the limelight they deserve. But when she sees how the world could actually be, that won’t be enough

Empty Hearts – Julie Zeh, translated from the German by John Cullen

A prescient political and psychological thriller ripped from tomorrow’s headlines, by one of Germany’s most celebrated contemporary novelists

A few short years from now, the world is an even more uncertain place than it is today, and politics everywhere is marching rightward: Trump is gone, but Brexit is complete, as is Frexit; there’s a global financial crisis, armed conflict, mass migration, and an ultrapopulist movement governs in Germany. With their democracy facing the wrecking ball, most well-off Germans turn inward, focusing on their own lives. Britta, a wife, mother, and successful businesswoman, ignores the daily news and concentrates on her family and her work running a clinic specializing in suicide prevention.
But her legitimate business is connected to a secret and far more lucrative operation known as The Bridge, an outfit that supplies terrorist organizations looking to employ suicide bombers. Using a complex candidate-identifying algorithm designed by Babak, a brilliant programmer and Britta’s only employee, The Bridge has effectively cornered the market, and terrorism almost never takes place without Britta’s services–which is why news of a thwarted suicide attack in Leipzig comes as a shock. Then The Bridge’s database is stolen and a colleague at the clinic murdered, driving Britta, Babak, and their latest recruit into hiding. On their heels is a new terrorist organization called Empty Hearts, a group unlike any they’ve encountered before.
Part suspenseful thriller, part wickedly effective social satire, Empty Hearts is a novel for our times, examining urgent questions of morality, politics, and culture, and presenting a startling vision of a future where empathy is a thing of the past.

 

The Threads of the Heart – Carole Martinez, translated from the French by Howard Curtis

They say Frasquita knows magic, that she is a healer with occult powers, that perhaps she is a sorcerer. She does indeed possess a remarkable gift, one that has been passed down to the women in her family for generations. From rags, off-cuts, and rough fabric she can create gowns and other garments so magnificent, so alive, that bestow a breathtaking and blinding beauty on whoever wears them; they are also capable of masking any kind of defect or deformity (and pregnancies!).
But Fasquita’s gift incites others’ jealousy. She is hounded and eventually banished from her home. What follows is an extraordinary adventure as she travels across southern Spain all the way to Africa with her children in tow. Her exile becomes a quest for a better life, for herself and her daughters, whom she hopes can escape the ironclad fate of her family of sorcerers.
Winner of no less than nine literary prizes, a bestseller in France and Italy, and soon to be a major film directed by the author, Carole Martinez’s The Threads of the Heart has won the hearts of hundreds of thousands of readers in Europe. For readers who loved The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende or One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, The Threads of the Heart possesses the lyric beauty of a prose poem and the narrative power of myth and cannot fail to delight

 

Everything Inside: Stories – Edwidge Danticat

From the internationally acclaimed, best-selling author of Brother, I’m Dying, a collection of vividly imagined stories about community, family, and love.

Rich with hard-won wisdom and humanity, set in locales from Miami and Port-au-Prince to a small unnamed country in the Caribbean and beyond, Everything Inside is at once wide in scope and intimate, as it explores the forces that pull us together, or drive us apart, sometimes in the same searing instant.

In these eight powerful, emotionally absorbing stories, a romance unexpectedly sparks between two wounded friends; a marriage ends for what seem like noble reasons, but with irreparable consequences; a young woman holds on to an impossible dream even as she fights for her survival; two lovers reunite after unimaginable tragedy, both for their country and in their lives; a baby’s christening brings three generations of a family to a precarious dance between old and new; a man falls to his death in slow motion, reliving the defining moments of the life he is about to lose.

This is the indelible work of a keen observer of the human heart–a master at her best.

The kids’ loot:

 

 

What did you get from your library this week?

 

Diverse romances #TopTenTuesday

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is….

It’s a Love Freebie!

 

 

Ok it has been far too long since I’ve done one of these. And here I am, on a “freebie” week, talking love. Because for far too long I was the kind who turned up my nose at romance novels. And recently I have grown to love them.

Here are some amazing ones I’ve devoured recently:

Jasmine Guillory’s books

The Wedding Date

The Proposal

The Wedding Party (oops actually I missed out on this one! Off to amend that)

Royal Holiday

Her books are lots of fun, I like how they are connected through a group of friends, for eg in The Wedding Date, Carlos is a secondary character, but he’s the main character in The Proposal. Also the books somehow manage to make me hungry (I wrote a post about how reading Royal Holiday made me crave scones, and so I made some). And that’s always a plus for me.

Helen Hoang’s books

The Kiss Quotient

The Bride Test

The Kiss Quotient was a book that made me sit up as it was probably one of the first steamy romance novels with Asian characters that I had come across. And it was hot! I have to admit that I didn’t like The Bride Test as much but I am still looking forward to more from Hoang.

 

Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert

Such a cute read by this British author. Hibbert has written a few other books but this was the first of hers I’ve read. And especially unique as its main character has a chronic illness. It was one of those bumbling, fumbling types of romances. Really cute.

Emergency Contact by S.K. Choi

This is a YA book but hey, it’s still a romance, isn’t it? I’m putting it in here as the female character is Korean, and I really liked this one although I’m not its target audience. You can read my thoughts on this book here. 

Ayesha At Last – Uzma Jalaluddin

This is a modern version of Pride and Prejudice which I was a bit hesitant to read because I had read another re-imagining of P&P before this one, and it did not stand up. Also, P&P was one of the books I studied for my English Lit A Levels and so I do know it  (and love it) quite well. But Ayesha At Last was quite satisfying!

 

What are some diverse romances you’ve enjoyed?


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.

 

 

 

Library Loot (February 5 to 11)

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! Don’t forget to link-up below.

 

My post is rather full of manga this week.

 

 

Dreamin’ Sun Vol 1, 2, 3, 4 – Ichigo Takano

I just discovered that Ichigo Takano, who wrote the manga series Orange, which I love, has another series. There’s a total of 10 volumes in this series (which started in Japan in 2008). So I’m looking forward to reading the rest!

Shimana Kameko lives in a home where she feels she doesn’t belong. Her mother is dead, her father has remarried, and her six-month-old baby brother takes up everyone’s attention. Kameko skips school and runs away to a nearby park, where she literally stumbles over a mysterious man in a kimono. The stranger, Fujiwara Taiga, offers Kameko a place to stay — on three conditions. The first condition is that Kameko tell him why she ran away from home. The second is that she fetch the stranger’s lost apartment key (he is locked out!). The third condition is… to have a dream. Kameko meets the conditions, moves in, and begins a journey of romance and self-discovery.

 

The Adventures of Barry & Joe – Adam Reid

Brothers from different mothers, bromancing history to save us from Trump.

These are the continuing adventures of Barack Obama and Joe Biden, time traveling superheroes in search of a brighter future for America.

Moments after the inauguration of our 45th President, best friends Barack Obama and Joe Biden were escorted to a secret lab run by the world’s greatest scientists. They were asked to take off all their clothes and hold very still in a fetal position until they felt a painful tingling sensation. Then they vanished. They would awake to find themselves apart, and inside their younger bodies—driven to find each other and change history for the better. Their faithful guide on this journey is Samuel L. Jackson, a brilliant actor from the present who appears in the form of an augmented reality that only they can see and hear. And thus, they find themselves leaping through time, striving to right injustice wherever they find it, looking for a world which they can proudly call home.

A visual feast that’s both graphic and novel, this book is a love letter to cheesy science fiction and the two men who can still be counted on to inspire us.  Featuring comics produced by Titmouse Inc (Big Mouth, The Venture Bros.), it’s 224 pages of adventure that will melt your snowflake brain and give you hope for humanity at the same time. 

 

The kids’ loot:

What did you get from your library this week?