Posts by Sharlene

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

If You Leave Me by Crystal Hana Kim

A moving, accomplished debut.

At its heart is a love triangle. There is Haemi, 16. The war has forced her, her mother and sickly younger brother, out of their village and into a refugee camp. There is Kyunghwan. They sneak out together late nights on his bicycle, looking for makgeolli to get drunk with. Jisoo is Kyunghwan’s cousin, he’s more well-off than Kyunghwan and wants to marry Haemi before he enlists.

Haemi eventually marries him, as she feels Jisoo is the best way to ensure that her family is secure, but her decision to forsake Kyunghwan continues to affect her – and her family – through the years.

I loved how Kim effortlessly weaves historical events through the story – the aftermath of the Korean War.

Haemi’s story continues to echo in my head even after finishing the book. She’s not an easy character to like as she struggles to accept this life that she chose. But I appreciate that Kim doesn’t turn her life into a bright shiny happy one and instead leaves the reader wondering, would she really be happier if she had chosen otherwise?

If you’ve read some of my book thoughts on my blog/Instagram, you may know that I’m always interested in books that feature food and If You Leave Me will make you hungry for Korean food. While I do love eating at Korean restaurants, I learnt a lot about Korean food that aren’t found in Korean restaurants here, such as steamed silkworm pupae, hotteok (a sweet pancake with brown sugar and walnuts), tea made with persimmon leaves.

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Library Loot (June 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.

 

 

Happy Wednesday! It’s the last day of school for my two boys. If I had it my way we’d celebrate by sitting down and reading. But no, of course that’s not going to happen…so think of me while you read this because I’m probably standing by some playground melting in this ridiculous heat that has me hating on summer. Meanwhile, go add your Library Loot link right here:

The Aftermath – Rhidian Brook

I saw this while browsing the Libby catalogue and thought it sounded interesting.

Set in post-war Germany, the international bestseller The Aftermath by Rhidian Brook is a stunning emotional thriller about our fiercest loyalties and our deepest desires. In the bitter winter of 1946, Rachael Morgan arrives with her only remaining son Edmund in the ruins of Hamburg. Here she is reunited with her husband Lewis, a British colonel charged with rebuilding the shattered city. But as they set off for their new home, Rachael is stunned to discover that Lewis has made an extraordinary decision: they will be sharing the grand house with its previous owners, a German widower and his troubled daughter. In this charged atmosphere, enmity and grief give way to passion and betrayal.

 

The Siren Depths (The Raksura #3) – Martha Wells

Ugh I do not like that cover. But I do adore this series. So if you can get past that cover, you’ll find amazing world building and great characters! Also, a matriarchy.

All his life, Moon roamed the Three Worlds, a solitary wanderer forced to hide his true nature–until he was reunited with his own kind, the Raksura, and found a new life as consort to Jade, sister queen of the Indigo Cloud court.

But now a rival court has laid claim to Moon, and Jade may or may not be willing to fight for him. Beset by doubts, Moon must travel in the company of strangers to a distant realm where he will finally face the forgotten secrets of his past, even as an old enemy returns with a vengeance.

The Fell, a vicious race of shapeshifting predators, menaces groundlings and Raksura alike. Determined to crossbreed with the Raksura for arcane purposes, they are driven by an ancient voice that cries out from…THE SIREN DEPTHS

 

BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts – Stella Parks

I’m not all that fond of e-cookbooks but they are just so convenient – also, not at all heavy tomes.

From One-Bowl Devil’s Food Layer Cake to a flawless Cherry Pie that’s crisp even on the very bottom, BraveTart is a celebration of classic American desserts. Whether down-home delights like Blueberry Muffins and Glossy Fudge Brownies or supermarket mainstays such as Vanilla Wafers and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream, your favorites are all here. These meticulously tested recipes bring an award-winning pastry chef’s expertise into your kitchen, along with advice on how to “mix it up” with over 200 customizable variations—in short, exactly what you’d expect from a cookbook penned by a senior editor at Serious Eats. Yet BraveTart is much more than a cookbook, as Stella Parks delves into the surprising stories of how our favorite desserts came to be, from chocolate chip cookies that predate the Tollhouse Inn to the prohibition-era origins of ice cream sodas and floats. With a foreword by The Food Lab’s J. Kenji López-Alt, vintage advertisements for these historical desserts, and breathtaking photography from Penny De Los Santos, BraveTartis sure to become an American classic.

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home – Jeni Britton Bauer

In case you haven’t seen my previous posts, I’ve been making ice-cream at home! And I’m intrigued by these ice-creams from this cookbook which do not have eggs and instead use corn starch.

Addictive flavors—and a breakthrough method for making creamy, scoopable ice cream at home.

Unique flavors, prepared from top-quality ingredients combined with minimally processed milk from grass-fed cows, transformed Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, a small artisanal scoopery in Columbus, Ohio, into a nationally acclaimed (and beloved) brand.

Now with her debut cookbook, Jeni Britton Bauer is on a mission to help foodies create perfect ice creams, yogurts, and sorbets—ones that are every bit as perfect as hers—in their own kitchens. Frustrated by icy and crumbly homemade ice cream, Bauer invested in a $59 ice cream maker and proceeded to test and retest recipes until she devised a formula to make creamy, sturdy, lickable ice cream at home. Her recipe for a milk-based American-style ice cream contains no eggs, which allows her amazing flavor combinations to shine. Filled with irresistible color photographs, this cone-tastic book contains 100 of Jeni’s signature recipes—from her Goat Cheese with Roasted Cherries to her Salty Caramel to her Bourbon with Toasted Buttered Pecans. Fans of easy-to-prepare desserts with star quality will scoop this book up. How cool is that?

The kids’ loot:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What did you get from your library this week?

 

This post contains affiliate links from Book Depository.  If you buy via these links it means I receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you). 

It’s Monday and it’s the last few days of school!

 

The last official school day is Wednesday and hooray no more school lunch to pack! No more driving back and forth several times a day! The kindergartener will finally be going to full-day school in August (kindergarten here is half-day so he only goes from 1140-3pm, and to complicate things, every first Wednesday is morning session). Of course that means next school year, I’ll have to pack two school lunches. Oh joy. Luckily the kids are ok eating sandwiches some days…

Meanwhile, we have some of our summer planned out – the kids are attending a couple of science-related summer camps. So hopefully they will have fun and learn something. I’ll also take them swimming more often. And it might sound Tiger Mom-ish of me, but I also want to make sure they’re both prepared for 3rd and 1st grade! The two of them are in a Mandarin immersion program, and we don’t really speak much Mandarin at home so we are going to have to work on that, especially since it’s a big jump from K to 1st. And when we visited the 3rd grade class at Open House, I marveled at all the projects that were on display, some poetry, some research projects, some stories written, book reviews, some in Chinese, some in English. Definitely more challenging written work than in 2nd!

 

Things eaten last week:

I brought the in-laws out to eat dim sum. My father-in-law loves century egg porridge. Also one of my favourite things is the shengjianbao or a panfried bun with pork and vegetables.

I discovered that kimchi in a burger is an amazing combination. We ate at a fancy food court at the fancy mall so we had good burgers from Super Duper and my in-laws had rice bowls from KoJa and I took the kimchi and added that to my burger. Yummy

We made sushi for dinner and also had sashimi

More eating out – xiaolongbao

 

Hot pot on a hot Sunday.

 

 

Currently…

 

Reading:

 

 

 

Watching:

We watched Ocean’s 8 and boy was I disappointed. It was an awesome cast – Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Mindy Kaling etc- but completely disappointing. Blanchett in particular was so underused. It wasn’t very clever and it strangely lacked tension – all the issues that cropped up were very easily solved. For eg, they needed a part, and tada one of the members just happened to have a genius sister who can engineer such a device. If this was the very first Ocean’s movie, it may have been ok. But how could this follow the first three? I mean, sure, it barely has anything to do with the original except that Bullock is Danny Ocean’s sister (and two original cast members appear) but with three exciting and relatively smart movies preceding it, this was such an utter letdown.

Eating:

Hot pot for dinner

Drinking:

Yuzu sake

Cooking:

To be honest I’m just excited that I don’t have to pack lunch on Thursday and Friday and haven’t a bloody clue what I’m cooking this week. I did however pick up some hamachi Kama (yellowtail cheek) from the Asian supermarket (6 big pieces for about $35) and will be grilling some. Just not today as I’m not turning on my oven in this heatwave!

Last week:

I read:

The totally awesome Hulk. Vol. 1, Cho time – Greg Pak
Peasprout Chen, Future Legend of Skate and Sword – Henry Lien
Save Me the Plums – Ruth Reichl
Unmarriageable – Soniah Kamal
I posted:

Homemade chocolate ice-cream #WeekendCooking

Moon Rush: The new Space Race by Leonard David #TLCBookTours

Library Loot (June 5 to 11)

Top Books From My Favorite Genre #toptentuesday

 

 

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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

 

Homemade chocolate ice-cream #WeekendCooking

 

Ok so this KitchenAid Ice-cream mixer attachment is some of the best $45 ever spent.

Last time I talked about my very own gula melaka (palm sugar) coconut ice-cream recipe 

And here’s something else I made, chocolate ice-cream.

I am a lover of chocolate but also, I am very particular about chocolate. As you probably may have guessed, I don’t like milk chocolate much. Chocolate to me must be dark and delectable. It cannot be too sweet. I like nuts in chocolate, but usually only hazelnuts.

So maybe that’s why I didn’t immediately turn to chocolate ice-cream as the first ice-cream to try. I have had quite a few chocolate ice-creams that just haven’t quite fit the bill. Too sweet or too milky.

This one, recipe from David Leibovitz’s book The Perfect Scoop is indeed perfect. Rich and creamy. Just the right amount of chocolate-y. Not too much that all you can eat is just one spoonful.

It uses both cocoa powder and chocolate, so use good ones!

 

He does, also have a different version of chocolate ice-cream on his blog, one adapted from Jeni’s Splendid. I borrowed her cookbook recently and have been intrigued by her way of making ice-cream, which involves a cornstarch slurry and no eggs.

Have you made ice-cream that way before?

 

 

 

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

Moon Rush: The new Space Race by Leonard David #TLCBookTours

 

I’ve read many works of fiction that are set in space, watched many movies and TV shows set in space, but I’ve never really read much nonfiction about space.

And you can rest assured that you are in good hands here with journalist Leonard David, who has been reporting on space-related news for over 50 years.

The race to the moon began in the 1960s, between the Soviet Union and the US. But today it is a very different landscape – in January, the Chinese landed a spacecraft on the far side of the moon; a spacecraft from an Israeli nonprofit crash-landed on the moon in April; India’s moon-lander is scheduled to take off later this year; or how about Japan, which plans its own lunar rover to land next year? The race to space is definitely back on and this book is published just at the right time to tell us all about the history behind it all, as well as what’s upcoming developments that we can expect in lunar exploration.

 

Some fascinating tidbits of information were gathered from my reading of this book.

Such as:

“Three sealed samples, one each from Apollo 15, 16, and 17, remain unopened, intentionally saved until technology and instrumentation has advanced to the point that investigators can maximize the scientific return on these unique specimens.”

I couldn’t help wondering when exactly that would be. How, for instance, could anyone decide, oh we should open this year, when who knows what kind of scientific advancement could happen next year? It’s not like science and technology is going to stop improving (or at least I hope not) so who makes that decision and how do they make such a decision?

Reading this book made me wonder, would I go to space if that were an option in the future? Would I want to go to the moon? I don’t know if I would. I don’t think I like the idea of hurtling up in a spacecraft powered by rockets (that’s probably why the first astronauts were pilots). How about you? Would you want to be a space tourist?

 

I received this book from the publisher and TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review

 

Pick up a copy of the book: National Geographic | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Library Loot (June 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 Wednesday you guys! It’s almost the end of the school year and that means all the summer reading programs are starting. It’s a great way to encourage kids to keep reading all through the summer. We plan on doing several – one from Barnes and Noble (that gives kids one free book), Half-Price Books (kids can get a $5 coupon to use in store), and the library (which also gives the kids a free book and some other little things).

 Claire has the link-up this week

The Calligrapher’s Daughter – Eugenia Kim

Thanks to the focus on Asian authors in May for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, I added so many new authors and books to my TBR list. This is one of them.

In early-twentieth-century Korea, Najin Han, the privileged daughter of a calligrapher, longs to choose her own destiny. Smart and headstrong, she is encouraged by her mother—but her stern father is determined to maintain tradition, especially as the Japanese steadily gain control of his beloved country. When he seeks to marry Najin into an aristocratic family, her mother defies generations of obedient wives and instead sends her to serve in the king’s court as a companion to a young princess. But the king is soon assassinated, and the centuries-old dynastic culture comes to its end.

In the shadow of the dying monarchy, Najin begins a journey through increasing oppression that will forever change her world. As she desperately seeks to continue her education, will the unexpected love she finds along the way be enough to sustain her through the violence and subjugation her country continues to face? Spanning thirty years, The Calligrapher’s Daughter is a richly drawn novel in the tradition of Lisa See and Amy Tan about a country torn between ancient customs and modern possibilities, a family ultimately united by love, and a woman who never gives up her search for freedom.

 

 

Beijing comrades – Bei Tong; translated by Scott E. Myers

I can’t remember where I first heard of this book, but I was wandering the shelves and spotted this and thought the cover looked so familiar. I looked it up on Goodreads just to make sure I hadn’t read it yet – it was on my TBR though! Are you good at keeping track of where you learn about books from?

When Handong, a ruthless and wealthy businessman, is introduced to Lan Yu, a naïve, working-class architectural student—the attraction is all consuming.

Arrogant and privileged, Handong is unsettled by this desire, while Lan Yu quietly submits. Despite divergent lives, the two men spend their nights together, establishing a deep connection. When loyalties are tested, Handong is left questioning his secrets, his choices, and his very identity.

Beijing Comrades is the story of a torrid love affair set against the sociopolitical unrest of late-eighties China. Due to its depiction of gay sexuality and its critique of the totalitarian government, it was originally published anonymously on an underground gay website within mainland China. This riveting and heartbreaking novel, circulated throughout China in 1998, quickly developed a cult following, and remains a central work of queer literature from the People’s Republic of China. This is the first English-language translation of Beijing Comrades.

Bei Tong is the anonymous author of Beijing Comrades. The author’s real-world identity has been a subject of ongoing debate since the novel was first published.

The totally awesome Hulk. Vol. 1, Cho time – Greg Pak, Frank Cho (Artist), Mike Choi (Artist), Takeshi Miyazawa (Artist)

I did not know there was a new Hulk! Ok not like I read Hulk comics (although I think I am kinda interested in reading She-Hulk) but I was curious about the new Hulk, a 19yo Korean-American!

There’s a brand-new Hulk in town, and his name is Amadeus Cho! Get ready for gamma-fueled entertainment as the kid genius decides he’s gonna be the best Hulk ever -and just possibly brings the entire world crashing down into chaos! Cho is taking on the biggest monsters in the Marvel Universe, but can he handle the danger posed by Lady Hellbender? What will She-Hulk and Spider-Man make of this very different Green Goliath? And what exactly happened to Bruce Banner? With monster mayhem in the Mighty Marvel Manner, all from the wild and crazy minds of Planet Hulk writer Greg Pak and superstar artist Frank Cho, this is better than incredible, it’s totally awesome! Plus: Amazing Science during Secret Wars featuring the Amadeus Cho of Battleworld!

Tiare in bloom – Celestine Vaite

The cover really attracted me when I spotted it on the library shelves. Haven’t heard of this book or the author before but I liked that it’s set in Tahiti. I only later realized that it was the third book in the series – there were no other books by the same author on the shelf.

Now that Materena is a big star with her radio talk show, Pito can’t help noticing some changes in his wife. She’s spending more and more time at work and with her girlfriends instead of coming home to cook for him. And why does a Tahitian woman need to know how to drive, anyway? He tries to shrug it off, but when Materena gives him the silent treatment and doesn’t come home after a night of dancing, Pito has had enough! How is he supposed to fix things with Materena when she doesn’t even give him a chance?

Luckily for Pito, his opportunity comes when a threemonth-old girl named Tiare–rumored to be their son Tomatoa’s daughter–is left on the Mahis’ doorstep. Anxious to pull his weight and set things right, Pito embarks on a hilarious and noble mission to prove himself to his granddaughter, his wife, and–most importantly–himself. TIARE IN BLOOM is the heartwarming story of a couple facing big changes on a small island–and a love that outlasts it all.

 

The kids’ loot:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What did you get from your library this week?

 

This post contains affiliate links from Book Depository.  If you buy via these links it means I receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you). 

Top Books From My Favorite Genre #toptentuesday

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is:

 

Books From My Favorite Genre

Favourite genre is a tricky one! Is there any genre I don’t really read?

I ended up going with speculative fiction which is kind of an umbrella genre encompassing a variety like science fiction, fantasy, supernatural, dystopian and more.

So here are my favourites!

 

The Earthsea series – Ursula K Le Guin

One of the first more serious fantasy books I ever read. It’s such an important book to me that I brought it with me from Singapore to the US. When I was a kid, someone (I wish I knew who!) bought me a copy of The Wizard of Earthsea, the first book in the series. And I read it over and over, not realizing that it was a series. So it was only when I was in…maybe my late teens or so that I read the rest of the books. In fact, because the book I bought was just the first four books, I didn’t read The Other Wind until maybe about 7 years ago.

 

  • The Wizard of Earthsea
  • The Tombs of Atuan
  • The Farthest Shore
  • Tehanu
  • The Other Wind

The Chronicles of Prydain – Lloyd Alexander

Another series I loved as a kid! But this one is more of a children’s book so I never saw it as more serious ‘fantasy’.

 

 

Temeraire series – Naomi Novik

Novik may have become more well-known thanks to her latest books Uprooted and Spinning Silver, but my favourite of hers is still the Temeraire series which I am still very slowly making my way through. There are 9 books in total (I think?) and I’ve read 5 so far. It’s a great setting – the Napoleonic wars but fought with dragons!

 

The Lady Astronaut series – Mary Robinette Kowal

You may have already read my review of The Calculating Stars but in case you haven’t, this is one fun series (just two books though!) that isn’t set in the future but in a slightly different past. The race to space takes on a different, more significant purpose.

The Inheritance series – NK Jemisin

The world building in this is exceptional. And it was also one of the first few speculative fiction series that was far more diverse than those I used to read. Loved the strong main character and the fascinating world of gods and mortals.

 

What are some of your favorite speculative fiction reads?

 


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.