Posts by Sharlene

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

The Girl Who Reads on the Métro

Which booklover can resist a book about books? A book about readers? And also ticking some boxes for me, a book written by a woman, and translated into English from French.

And then it begins with one of my favourite quotes, “I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library” by Jorge Luis Borges. 

We begin on the metro where Juliette spends her commute watching people who are reading. There’s the man in the green hat reading a history of insects. The young woman reading romance novels whose eyes begin to tear around page 247. Juliette prefers watching readers to reading her own book. 

One day, Juliette steps off the train at a different stop, takes a walk around the strange neighborhood, and finds herself at a house with the front door wedged open with a book. 

There she meets Soliman whose house is full of books. And book passeurs come by, they deliver books to people. Not just randomly, but people they have watched, followed, until they can sense the book that person needs. 

And it all sounds kind of lovely, the way I’m describing it, but while I expected to be enchanted by this book, I just wasn’t. Although I can’t quite put my finger on it. Maybe because she doesn’t seem to really do much as a book passeur. And maybe because I didn’t really feel much of a connection to any of the characters. Maybe I was looking for something more whimsical. 

This book wasn’t quite for me but maybe it will be for you.

Library Loot (January 15 to 21)

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 happy Library Loot day!

Claire has the link-up 

I have an awesome (virtual) stack of books this week!

Somehow I kept thinking this was a speculative fiction kind of read. But it looks like it’s a “missing girl” type of read, but in a different type of setting. 

Disappearing Earth – Julia Phillips

One August afternoon, on the shoreline of the north-eastern edge of Russia, two sisters are abducted. In the ensuing weeks, then months, the police investigation turns up nothing. Echoes of the disappearance reverberate across a tightly woven community, with the fear and loss felt most deeply among its women.

Set on the remote Siberian peninsula of Kamchatka, Disappearing Earth draws us into the world of an astonishing cast of characters, all connected by an unfathomable crime. We are transported to vistas of rugged beauty – densely wooded forests, open expanses of tundra, soaring volcanoes and the glassy seas that border Japan and Alaska – and into a region as complex as it is alluring, where social and ethnic tensions have long simmered, and where outsiders are often the first to be accused.

In a story as propulsive as it is emotionally engaging, and through a young writer’s virtuosic feat of empathy and imagination, this powerful novel provides a new understanding of the intricate bonds of family and community, in a Russia unlike any we have seen before

 

Definitely a must read!

Girl, Woman, Other – Bernardine Evaristo

Joint Winner of the Man Booker Prize 2019

Teeming with life and crackling with energy — a love song to modern Britain and black womanhood

Girl, Woman, Other follows the lives and struggles of twelve very different characters. Mostly women, black and British, they tell the stories of their families, friends and lovers, across the country and through the years.

Joyfully polyphonic and vibrantly contemporary, this is a gloriously new kind of history, a novel of our times: celebratory, ever-dynamic and utterly irresistible.

 

In the Land of Invisible Women – Qanta Ahmed

The decisions that change your life are often the most impulsive ones.
Unexpectedly denied a visa to remain in the United States, Qanta Ahmed, a young British Muslim doctor, becomes an outcast in motion. On a whim, she accepts an exciting position in Saudi Arabia. This is not just a new job; this is a chance at adventure in an exotic land she thinks she understands, a place she hopes she will belong.
What she discovers is vastly different. The Kingdom is a world apart, a land of unparralled contrast. She finds rejection and scorn in the places she believed would most embrace her, but also humor, honesty, loyalty and love.
And for Qanta, more than anything, it is a land of opportunity. A place where she discovers what it takes for one woman to recreate herself in the land of invisible women

 

Edge – Koji Suzuki

Edge begins with a massive and catastrophic shifting of the San Andreas fault. The fears of California someday tumbling into the sea–that have become the stuff of parody–become real. But even the terror resulting from this catastrophe pales in comparison to the understanding behind its happening, a cataclysm extending beyond mankind’s understanding of horror as it had previously been known. The world is falling apart because things are out of joint at the quantum level, about which of course there’s never been any guarantee that everything has to remain stable.

Koji Suzuki returns to the genre he’s most famous for after many years of “not wanting to write any more horror.” As expected from Suzuki, the chills are of a more cerebral, psychological sort, arguably more unsettling and scary than the slice-and-dice gore fests that horror has become known in the U.S. Never content to simply do “Suzuki”–as it were–but rather push the envelope on what horror is in general and for which readers have come to know him, Edge borders on being cutting-edge science fiction. The author himself terms this novel, which he has worked on for some years, a work of “quantum horror.”

 

What did you get from your library this week?

 

 

 

It’s Monday

 Last week…

 

We tried a new-to-us eatery. Unfortunately it wasn’t great although it was quite crowded. I thought the meat in the xiaolongbao was strangely a bit sweet. They had this bun that was panfried and had a nice crunchy bottom. But still, for me, the pork mixture was too sweet.

The boys and I finished a 1000 piece puzzle. That’s the most number of pieces that we’ve done together so we’re quite proud of it.

And a nice walk around the lake.

 

Currently…

 

Reading:

All the Birds in the Sky – Charlie Jane Anders

 

 

Watching:

Cheer on Netflix

Listening:

Notes from a young black chef – Kwame Onwuachi

 

Eating:

 I had a cheese sandwich for breakfast

Drinking:

 Yorkshire Gold with milk

Cooking:

 Claypot rice

Spaghetti

Grilled hamachi kama or yellowtail cheek

Last week:

I read:

The girl from the other side vol 2 – Nagabe
Nancy – Olivia Jaimes
New Kid – Jerry Craft
The White Card: A Play in One Act – Claudia Rankine
The Girl Who Reads on the Metro – Christine Féret-Fleury

I posted:

 

Comics: The Girl from the Other Side; Nancy

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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

 

Comics: The Girl from the Other Side; Nancy

THE GIRL FROM THE OTHER SIDE: SIÚIL, A RÚN vol 2

First read of the year is a strange one. Also it’s the second volume in the series as I started and finished the first one on the last day of 2019. A series I hadn’t heard of until browsing the library’s ebook catalogue and the cover just stood out for me.

Who is this strange creature and why is this little girl with it? I also loved the stark colors. And the inside, like pretty much all manga I’ve read, is only in black and white. 

There is a fairy tale-likeness to this series. A young innocent girl separated from her family and into the house of this beast with horns. But he is no vile monster. He looks after her, feeds her, and cares for her. She calls him Teacher. But she can not touch him for those who touch these beasts are cursed. 

The curse itself isn’t really explained much in the first two volumes but it is horrible enough that people have died, villages emptied, and armed soldiers sent to look for this possibly cursed young child in the woods.

A fascinating series with beautiful artwork

NANCY BY OLIVIA JAIMES

Book 2 of 2020 is another comic. This one also one I hadn’t heard of before. Apparently it started in 1938 and was at its height in the 70s (in over 700 newspapers). Growing up in Singapore, our one newspaper was (and pretty much still is) The Straits Times and they didn’t carry Nancy. Or at least I don’t remember that they did. I remember they had Sherman’s Lagoon and Baby Blues. Probably Peanuts.

So it was another case of browse the ebook catalogue and oh this looks fun and hit download.

And what a delight this was. Seeing the cover I expected an older comic so I was thrilled to see how phone addicted Nancy was – and also soon realized this was the new Nancy. One that was published from 2018 with its first-ever female author who goes by the pen name Olivia Jaimes.

And Nancy is such a hoot. She’s grouchy and she’s sassy. And it was such an absolute delight to read. I just loved every page of it, especially those meta ones!

Library Loot (January 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.

Hi everyone and happy Library Loot day!

Found this on the new arrivals shelves

The White Card: A Play in One Act – Claudia Rankine

Claudia Rankine’s first published play, The White Card, poses the essential question: Can American society progress if whiteness remains invisible?

Composed of two scenes, the play opens with a dinner party thrown by Virginia and Charles, an influential Manhattan couple, for the up-and-coming artist Charlotte. Their conversation about art and representations of race spirals toward the devastation of Virginia and Charles’s intentions. One year later, the second scene brings Charlotte and Charles into the artist’s studio, and their confrontation raises both the stakes and the questions of what–and who–is actually on display.

Rankine’s The White Card is a moving and revelatory distillation of racial divisions as experienced in the white spaces of the living room, the art gallery, the theater, and the imagination itself.

The Caregiver – Samuel Park

From the critically acclaimed author of This Burns My Heart comes gorgeous, emotionally wise tale about a daughter who unearths the hidden life of her enigmatic mother.

Mara Alencar’s mother Ana is the moon, the sun, the stars. Ana, a struggling voice-over actress, is an admirably brave and recklessly impulsive woman who does everything in her power to care for her little girl. With no other family or friends her own age, Ana eclipses Mara’s entire world. They take turns caring for each other—in ways big and small.

Their arrangement begins to unravel when Ana becomes involved with a civilian rebel group attempting to undermine the city’s torturous Police Chief, who rules over 1980s Rio de Janeiro with terrifying brutality. Ana makes decisions that indelibly change their shared life. When Mara is forced to escape, she emigrates to California where she finds employment as a caregiver to a young woman dying of stomach cancer. It’s here that she begins to grapple with her turbulent past and starts to uncover vital truths—about her mother, herself, and what it means to truly take care of someone.

Told with vivid imagery and subtle poignancy, The Caregiver is a moving and profound story that asks us to investigate who we are—as children and parents, immigrants and citizens, and ultimately, humans looking for vital connectivity.

Mosquito – Roma Tearne

Shortlisted for the Costa (Whitbread) 2007 First Novel Award

Set adrift by the recent death of his wife, Theo Samarajeeva abandons his comfortable writer’s life in London and returns to Sri Lanka, his war-torn homeland. There he finds himself slipping into friendship with Nulani, a talented and enigmatic young artist–a friendship that blossoms into love. Under the threat of a rising terrorist insurgency, their affair offers a glimmer of hope in a country on the brink of destruction.

But when the insurgency explodes, their precarious world is torn apart. Theo is held captive and stripped of everything he once held dear. Nulani is forced into exile. No one, it seems, is safe; only the sea and the land remain breathtakingly lovely. As the country descends into a morass of violence and hatred, the tragecy of civil conflict spreads like a poison among friends and lovers sickened by the fac of war. Ultimately, each of them will be tested in the most terrible ways.

By turns heartbreaking and uplifting, Mosquito is a first novel of remarkable beauty and compelling power.

I brought this home but will have to return without reading it. I had quickly grabbed it off the shelves as it was something I was looking for. Didn’t realize the first few pages were missing!

A Crack in the Wall – Claudia Piniero

Pablo Simó’s life is a mess. His career as an architect is at a deadend; reduced to designing soulless office buildings desecrating the heart of Buenos Aires. His marriage seems to be one endless argument with his wife over the theatrics of their rebellious teenage daughter. To complicate matters, Pablo has long been attracted to sexy office secretary Marta Horvat, who is probably having an affair with his boss. Everything changes with the unexpected appearance of Leonor, a beautiful young woman who brings to light a crime that happened years before, a crime that everyone in the office wants forgotten, at all costs.

Claudia Piñeiro once again demonstrates her capacity to reveal the things hidden behind the facades of our existence; human relationships based on habit and cowardice, rather than love; on excessive ambition and personal gain, rather than morality.

The kids’ loot:

What did you get from your library this week?

It's Monday and school is in session

Since I haven’t written one of these posts for a while, there’s plenty to catch up on.

First, up top are some new-to-us eateries. The first two are from Fugetsu, a Japanese okonomiyaki chain with its first US branch in Santa Clara. Okonomiyaki is a kind of savoury pancake full of vegetables and some meat. We had a pork and cheese one. As well as one with mentai noodles (Pollock roe).

We also did have a nice Christmas Day dinner with ham and all the side dishes and a homemade Black Forest Yule log, complete with meringue mushrooms and matcha shortbread Christmas trees.

We were in Santa Cruz for a few days before Christmas, staying at a house near West Cliff Drive. We had lots of walks by the sea and this is the Natural Bridges park at sunset.

Currently…

Reading:

Watching:

The new season of Terrace House

Listening:

Notes from a Young Black Chef by Kwame Onwuachi

Eating:

Meyer lemon yoghurt cake

Drinking:

Coffee

Last week:

I read:

The Girl From the Other Side Vol 2 – Nagabe

Nancy – Olivia Jaimes

I posted:

Library Loot (January 1 to 7)

How I read in 2019 (with pie charts!)

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 (January 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 New Year!

May 2020 bring all kinds of wonderful and exciting reads!

The library has been closed the past couple of days, so I haven’t managed to get new books for the kids yet. But I picked up some books that fit a few categories for the reading challenges I’ve started this year. Of course as usual with the start of the new year I’m raring to go with regards to reading challenges. Let’s see if I can keep that up!

The Girl Who Reads on the Metro – Christine Féret-Fleury

I saw this on Claire’s previous Library Loot post, and thought I’d borrow it too! An added plus is that it’s a translated book!

In the vein of Amelie and The Little Paris Bookshop, a modern fairytale about a French woman whose life is turned upside down when she meets a reclusive bookseller and his young daughter.

Juliette leads a perfectly ordinary life in Paris, working a slow office job, dating a string of not-quite-right men, and fighting off melancholy. The only bright spots in her day are her metro rides across the city and the stories she dreams up about the strangers reading books across from her: the old lady, the math student, the amateur ornithologist, the woman in love, the girl who always tears up at page 247.

One morning, avoiding the office for as long as she can, Juliette finds herself on a new block, in front of a rusty gate wedged open with a book. Unable to resist, Juliette walks through, into the bizarre and enchanting lives of Soliman and his young daughter, Zaide. Before she realizes entirely what is happening, Juliette agrees to become a passeur, Soliman’s name for the booksellers he hires to take stacks of used books out of his store and into the world, using their imagination and intuition to match books with readers. Suddenly, Juliette’s daydreaming becomes her reality, and when Soliman asks her to move in to their store to take care of Zaide while he goes away, she has to decide if she is ready to throw herself headfirst into this new life.

Big-hearted, funny, and gloriously zany, The Girl Who Reads on the Metro is a delayed coming-of-age story about a young woman who dares to change her life, and a celebration of the power of books to unite us all.

 

I didn’t realise this book was set in the SF area. This is one of those books that have been on my TBR list for a while (it was published in 2016) so I really ought to just read it!

All The Birds in the Sky – Charlie Jane Anders

Childhood friends Patricia Delfine, a witch, and Laurence Armstead, a mad scientist, parted ways under mysterious circumstances during middle school. But as adults they both wind up in near-future San Francisco, where Laurence is an engineering genius and Patricia works with a small band of other magicians to secretly repair the world’s ever growing ailments. But something is determined to bring them back together—to either save the world, or end it.

 

Night Sky with Exit Wounds – Ocean Vuong

Ocean Vuong’s first full-length collection aims straight for the perennial “big”—and very human—subjects of romance, family, memory, grief, war, and melancholia. None of these he allows to overwhelm his spirit or his poems, which demonstrate, through breath and cadence and unrepentant enthrallment, that a gentle palm on a chest can calm the fiercest hungers.

 

 

 

 

What did you get from your library this week?

 

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