Posts by Sharlene

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

Library Loot (July 24 to 30)

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.

 

This week’s library loot comes to you from Singapore where the libraries are huge and beautiful and operate every day from 10am to 9pm (unlike the confusing schedule back in the Bay Area where Monday-Tuesday the library only opens at 1, Wednesday at noon, Thur-Fri at 11. Or something like that).

This library is the one nearest my in-laws’ house and is located in a huge government-built multistorey complex which houses tennis courts, fitness studios, swimming pool, medical centre, gym, indoor sports courts and more.

The library has two floors in this building and serves the Bedok area in the east. Singapore is a small country but it has 26 public libraries and a main National Library.

Happy Library Loot Day!

Here’s the link-up for the week

An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good – Helene Turnsten

– An elderly lady has accommodation problems
– An elderly lady on her travels
– An elderly lady seeks peace at Christmas time
– The antique dealer’s death
– An elderly lady is faced with a difficult dilemma

Maud is an irascible 88-year-old Swedish woman with no family, no friends, and…no qualms about a little murder. This funny, irreverent story collection by Helene Tursten, author of the Irene Huss investigations, features two-never-before translated stories that will keep you laughing all the way to the retirement home.

Ever since her darling father’s untimely death when she was only eighteen, Maud has lived in the family’s spacious apartment in downtown Gothenburg rent-free, thanks to a minor clause in a hastily negotiated contract. That was how Maud learned that good things can come from tragedy. Now in her late eighties, Maud contents herself with traveling the world and surfing the net from the comfort of her father’s ancient armchair. It’s a solitary existence, but she likes it that way.

Over the course of her adventures—or misadventures—this little bold lady will handle a crisis with a local celebrity who has her eyes on Maud’s apartment, foil the engagement of her long-ago lover, and dispose of some pesky neighbors. But when the local authorities are called to investigate a murder in her apartment complex, will Maud be able to avoid suspicion, or will Detective Inspector Irene Huss see through her charade?

The Poet X – Elizabeth Acevedo

A young girl in Harlem discovers slam poetry as a way to understand her mother’s religion and her own relationship to the world. Debut novel of renowned slam poet Elizabeth Acevedo.

Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Ever since her body grew into curves, she has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking.

But Xiomara has plenty she wants to say, and she pours all her frustration and passion onto the pages of a leather notebook, reciting the words to herself like prayers—especially after she catches feelings for a boy in her bio class named Aman, who her family can never know about. With Mami’s determination to force her daughter to obey the laws of the church, Xiomara understands that her thoughts are best kept to herself.

So when she is invited to join her school’s slam poetry club, she doesn’t know how she could ever attend without her mami finding out, much less speak her words out loud. But still, she can’t stop thinking about performing her poems.

Because in the face of a world that may not want to hear her, Xiomara refuses to be silent.

 

The cover caught my eye

The Electrical Venus – Julie Mayhew

In a lowly side-show fair in eighteenth-century England, teenager Mim is struggling to find her worth as an act. Not white, but not black enough to be truly exotic, her pet parrot who speaks four languages is a bigger draw than her. But Alex, the one-armed boxer boy, sees her differently. And she, too, feels newly interested in him.

But then Dr Fox arrives with his scientific kit for producing ‘electrickery’ – feats of electrical magic these bawdy audiences have never seen before. To complete his act, Fox chooses Mim to play the ‘Electrical Venus’. Her popularity – and the electric-shocking kisses she can provide for a penny – mean takings are up, slop is off the menu and this spark between her and Fox must surely be love. 

But is this starring role her true worth, or is love worth more than a penny for an electrifying kiss?

An intoxicating and atmospheric coming of age story set in the filth and thrill of a travelling show during the height of the Georgian Enlightenment

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). 

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Library Loot (July 17 to 23)

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!

Claire has the link-up this week. Let us know what you got from your library this week!

 

Here’s my loot!

 

 

I spotted this on the New Arrivals shelves in the children’s section and loved the cover!

 

To Night Owl from Dogfish by Meg Wolitzer and Holly Goldberg Sloan

From two extraordinary authors comes a moving, exuberant, laugh-out-loud novel about friendship and family, told entirely in emails and letters.

Avery Bloom, who’s bookish, intense, and afraid of many things, particularly deep water, lives in New York City. Bett Devlin, who’s fearless, outgoing, and loves all animals as well as the ocean, lives in California. What they have in common is that they are both twelve years old, and are both being raised by single, gay dads.

When their dads fall in love, Bett and Avery are sent, against their will, to the same sleepaway camp. Their dads hope that they will find common ground and become friends–and possibly, one day, even sisters.

But things soon go off the rails for the girls (and for their dads too), and they find themselves on a summer adventure that neither of them could have predicted. Now that they can’t imagine life without each other, will the two girls (who sometimes call themselves Night Owl and Dogfish) figure out a way to be a family?

 

This is a comic from the children’s section – the kids were grabbing their selections and I saw this one and liked the look of the illustrations.

 

Pandora’s Legacy – Kara Leopard, Kelly Matthews, Nicole Matthews

The Panagakos family are descendents of Pandora, their family tasked with protecting Pandora’s box and capturing the monsters that have escaped over the years. When Charlie, Janet, and Trevor accidentally break the box, it’s up to the three of them to fix it before their family finds out…or worse…

What starts out as a typical family vacation to Grandma and Grandpa’s house quickly erupts into supernatural mystery and peril when three siblings accidentally break an old, mystical jar hidden deep in the woods. As magical monsters pour out of the fractured relic and run amok, Charlie, Janet, and Trevor must find a way to capture all of the creatures in order to save their family—and potentially the entire world—before it’s too late.

 

 

We Hunt the Flame – Hafsah Faizal

People lived because she killed.
People died because he lived.

Zafira is the Hunter, disguising herself as a man when she braves the cursed forest of the Arz to feed her people. Nasir is the Prince of Death, assassinating those foolish enough to defy his autocratic father, the king. If Zafira was exposed as a girl, all of her achievements would be rejected; if Nasir displayed his compassion, his father would punish him in the most brutal of ways.

Both are legends in the kingdom of Arawiya—but neither wants to be.

War is brewing, and the Arz sweeps closer with each passing day, engulfing the land in shadow. When Zafira embarks on a quest to uncover a lost artifact that can restore magic to her suffering world and stop the Arz, Nasir is sent by the king on a similar mission: retrieve the artifact and kill the Hunter. But an ancient evil stirs as their journey unfolds—and the prize they seek may pose a threat greater than either can imagine.

Set in a richly detailed world inspired by ancient Arabia, We Hunt the Flame is a gripping debut of discovery, conquering fear, and taking identity into your own hands.

 

 

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). 

The Great Unexpected by Dan Mooney #TLCBookTours

 

 

 

 

 

Think Grumpy Old Men. In a nursing home.

Well, at least one of the old men is grumpy.

And that is Joel Monroe, who is in his 70s and held ‘prisoner’ at Hilltop Nursing Home. His roommate Miller, who has been in a coma, dies, and Joel, still grieving for his wife, whose bed Miller had taken over, is overcome with grief.

It doesn’t help that the nursing home has stuck him with Frank de Selby, a former soap opera actor who is full of questions, rather flamboyant and optimistic. Joel is determined not to like this new roommate but once he gets to know the real de Selby (real name Frank Adams), he realises that while they are very different people, he quite likes Frank.

Frank shares that his family has left him alone after learning that he’s gay. Joel reveals that he has been thinking of killing himself.

Sharing secrets and escaping the nursing home to get a pint in a bar and these two roommates become great friends, the kind that seem as if they’ve known each other forever.

I loved how different the two men were from each other. And how they learnt from each other and grew, in their own way.

The Great Unexpected is a charming and amusing read, a poignant tale of friendship and ageing.

 

For more information about Dan Mooney and the book, check our his author website, like him on Facebook, follow him on Twitter, look at the book’s Goodreads page, follow the rest of the blog tour.

 

Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

 

 

Thanks to  TLC Book Tours and publisher Park Row Books for sending me a copy of this book.

It’s Monday (July 15)

 

Last week…

It was my birthday last week and there was a lot of eating.

We ate at an all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ. I wasn’t sure if I could eat that much meat. And if it was worth it for the kids (who paid 50% of the adult price) but in the end we did pretty good. The 6yo probably ate enough prawns to cover his tab 😂

The husband took me out to lunch (yes, no kids!) and we ate at Ramen Izakaya in Mountain View which seems to usually have a long line of people on weekends but on this Thursday, we could walk right in and get a table. I had tsukemen which is ramen but with the broth on the side to dip in. The broth was especially delicious!

 

 

Currently…

 

Reading:

 

 

 

Watching:

Stranger Things

 

Eating:

More leftover birthday cake

Drinking:

Lots of water – it’s a very rich cake!

 

Making:

More amigurumi

 

Last week:

I read:

The Priory of the Orange Tree – Samantha Shannon
Pie in the Sky – Remy Lai
Vox – Christina Dalcher
The Great Unexpected – Dan Mooney
Idaho – Emily Ruskovich

I posted:

#WeekendCooking Black Sesame Ice-cream recipe

South Pole Station by #BookBeginnings #Friday56

The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

Library Loot (July 10 to 16)

Books read in June

 

 

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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. 

 

#WeekendCooking Black Sesame Ice-cream recipe

I’m back again with another ice-cream recipe!

This one was the husband’s idea. I was just asking him what ice-cream flavour I should make next and he said black sesame. If you’ve not had it before, it sometimes can be found at Japanese restaurants and Japanese supermarkets. And it’s always black sesame, not white sesame.

Black sesame ice-cream is not pretty. In fact, it looks a bit like cement. But it is very delicious. It has an almost nutty flavour, without the nuts of course.

It was a bit harder to find a black sesame recipe and to be honest, after trying a coconut ice-cream recipe online that did not work at all, I’m wary of online ice-cream recipes. So far the ice-cream recipes I’ve used are from David Leibovitz’s book The Perfect Scoop, or adapted from there. And once you get that custard recipe down, you can try experimenting with different flavors, and that is what I did here.

I did check out recipes online for how to get that sesame paste and while some of them recommended making your own, I didn’t have a food processor and wasn’t quite sure that my immersion blender would do a good job with grinding up the sesame. So instead I went to my local Asian supermarket and looked for black sesame paste. It wasn’t the kind recommended by blogs like Just One Cookbook who used a Japanese brand.

What I found was a Taiwanese-made paste and for some reason, several different kinds of sesame powder. Apparently black sesame drinks are a thing in Taiwan (and it seems in Korea too). In Singapore you can find a hot Chinese dessert that is called Black Sesame Soup, where the sesame is ground fine and often thickened with rice. Black sesame paste is also found in sweet rice flour dumplings called tangyuan. And looking up black sesame recipes, I found this intriguing Black Sesame Porridge recipe, made with rice and black sesame.

And here is my Black Sesame ice-cream recipe

4 tbsp Black Sesame powder
3 tbsp Black Sesame paste
1 cup (250ml) whole milk
2 cups (500 ml) heavy cream
5 egg yolks
120g brown sugar
Big pinch of salt

Warm the milk, sugar and 1 cup of the heavy cream in a medium saucepan. Stir in the Black Sesame powder and salt. Do not boil.

Place remaining 1 cup of heavy cream in large bowl (I use a big pyrex measuring cup). In a medium bowl, whisk yolks. Slowly pour some of the warmed milk mixture into the egg yolks to temper them. And then add the warmed egg and milk mixture back into the saucepan.

Keep stirring over medium heat until the custard forms. The custard should coat your spatula and I test this by running my finger down the spatula and if that little line my finger makes remains, you’re all done. Remove from heat.

Pour the custard into the cream. Usually I put a strainer over the cream and pour it through but I wasn’t sure if that would sift out the black sesame! So I skipped that bit.

Stir in the Black Sesame paste, making sure to scrape the bottom.

You can cool this in an ice bath or cover with plastic wrap and pop into the fridge. Chill it thoroughly for a few hours at least. And then follow your ice-cream machine’s instructions.

 

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

South Pole Station by #BookBeginnings #Friday56

Beginning:

Do you ever have pain in your chest unrelated to indigestion?

Are you often sad?

Do you have digestion problems due to stress?

Do you have problems with authority?

How many alcoholic drinks do you consume a week? A day?

Would you rather be a florist or a truck driver?

True or false: I like to read about science.

True or false: Sometimes I just feel like killing myself.

(It’s a bit long I know, but I think that this quotation works far better if I include the last line)

 

56:

Cooper climbed back up the sloping granite outcropping and looked down at her feet, at the bones of the continent. It seemed as if everything around her – the spiny arms of the pines bent over the water, the crackle of the fire she hadn’t let die in the night, even the persimmon clouds of dawn – had receded completely. The silence was crystalline.

 

 

Fridays are for Book Beginnings on Rose City Reader, Friday 56 on Freda’s Voice

 

 

 

The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

The House of Berethnet has ruled Inys for a thousand years. Still unwed, Queen Sabran the Ninth must conceive a daughter to protect her realm from destruction—but assassins are getting closer to her door.

Ead Duryan is an outsider at court. Though she has risen to the position of lady-in-waiting, she is loyal to a hidden society of mages. Ead keeps a watchful eye on Sabran, secretly protecting her with forbidden magic.

Across the dark sea, Tané has trained all her life to be a dragonrider, but is forced to make a choice that could see her life unravel.

Meanwhile, the divided East and West refuse to parley, and forces of chaos are rising from their sleep

I usually prefer to describe the book in my own words but this one is tricky. It is a busy, complex world with societies that have been divided because of their beliefs. But essentially there is a Big Bad and it has been in exile for a thousand years, and guess what, those thousand years are now ending.

But before we get to all of that there is so much of this wonderful world-building to explore. And I feel like you really need to enjoy discovering and wandering through all the author’s worldbuilding when it comes to this book. It does take a while to build up, it does take a while for things to happen and at 848 pages, this is quite an investment. Don’t get discouraged though, because once the pieces begin to fall into place it is glorious.

I’m trying not to spoil anything for anyone here so bullet points to the rescue. Here’s what I loved about this book:

  • women-centred
  • there are dragons and dragon-riders!
  • (but also societies that fear and hate dragons)
  • magic
  • some politicking and power play
  • it’s a standalone, so no need to be desperately waiting for the sequel

Here’s some things that I didn’t like so much:

  • The Big Bad felt a bit like evil for evil’s sake. There didn’t seem to be much of a concrete explanation for what it’s doing
  • It is very long and takes a while to get going. Not everyone has the kind of patience required for a book like this. Perhaps if this wasn’t a library ebook maybe I wouldn’t have read it so fast – the Libby app is especially good at alerting one to the fact that “xx people are waiting” for this book. Which meant that when my time with the book was up, I’d have to put it on hold and wait again. So of course I’m going to finish reading it before that nonsense happens!