Pie Charts!


The year-end survey post wasn’t enough stats for me! So here are far more than you ever need. And in pie charts! Because, FUN. And Geeky.

And in case you are dying for more pie charts and stats, here’s my post from last year!


Total books read: 217

2013’s total: 223
2012’s total: 227
2011’s total: 171 


A slight decrease of female writers from last year (58%). Must pay more attention to that next year.




This year I added the awkward genre of ‘graphic memoir’, but put ‘graphic novel’ and ‘graphic memoir’ together and that is a big chunk of my year! I oddly didn’t label any books as ‘classics’ in my handy dandy spreadsheet (shame on me), although I did read 14 books that are older than me. More specifically, the oldest book I read was published in 1915 (Willa Cather’s The Song of the Lark).




And I seem to read more recently published books than I thought I did. More specifically, 44 books published in 2014!





Oddly, more printed books than e-books this year. Probably because I got to the library more often.




And more library books – at 88% compared to last year’s 82%.




I didn’t analyze this statistic last year, so I have no idea how this compares. But it’s still fun to learn that I’ve come upon plenty of new-to-me writers this year! In case you’re interested, here are my favourite new-to-me authors.

Sadly, this year I read far less translated books. Just 12 compared to last year’s 20! These books were translated from:

French, Japanese, Hebrew, Korean, Lebanese


I hope to amend this by reading more books in translation for the Books in Translation Reading Challenge.

See my Top 10 reads of the year here!

I had a great reading year in 2014. Here’s to plenty more exciting reads in 2015!

So far, my plans are to join the following reading challenges: Books in Translation, Back to the Classics, and Reading England (see my challenge page here), as well as the shorter events like Once Upon a Time, RIP, Diversiverse.

How about you? 

Happy reading and best wishes for a wonderful 2015!



It’s Monday and time for the End of Year Book Survey

itsmondayIt’s Monday! What are you reading?” is a weekly event hosted by Sheila at Bookjourney to share with others what we’ve read the past week and planning to read next.

The holiday season always throws me off schedule. It’s like, what? It’s the weekend? Sure doesn’t feel like it since the Husband has been on leave since the weekend before – he had a LOT of time-off accumulated, the result of having worked late nights and weekends for far too long. And so Monday has rolled right along again!

I hope you have been celebrating the holidays with plenty of food and good company. Oh and presents! I had some lovely gifts, from books to Lego! The kids had the best of times ripping wrapping paper. And on Christmas Eve, a massive gorgeous feast! And the next few days, we gorged on more and more lovely edibles.

The Husband and I also celebrated our sixth anniversary yesterday with a (very rare) dinner out at Madera at Palo Alto. Hooray for visiting grandparents!

There are just a few days left to 2015! Say it with me, Aaaarrgggghhh!

But really, a new year brings new books. So that’s always fun!

Here’s the End of Year Book Survey from The Perpetual Page Turner! Please click over to her blog for the full questionnaire. I’ve picked just some of the many questions to answer.

Meanwhile, a very Happy Monday and Happy Reading!

Reading Stats

Number Of Books You Read: 217. And I’m on the way to finishing at least one or two more.

Number of Re-Reads: o

Genre You Read The Most From: Fiction


Best in Books

Best Book You Read In 2014?

I seriously cannot answer this with one book.

So instead, I am copping out with my list that I posted earlier in the month

Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?


War Horse – Michael Morpurgo

The perspective of the horse limited the narrative far too much.

In Real Life – Cory Doctorow, Jen Wang
I was at first, yay, a book about girl gamers! Then ugh, what’s with the trying to save the Chinese gamer bit? Who are they kidding?

Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read in 2014?

Supernatural Enhancements – Edgar Cantero
Best series you started in 2014? 

Tough one! I started so many! Like The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer, Morning Glories, Sunny, The Raven Cycle. 


Favorite new author you discovered in 2014?

I posted a list here. It might be Hanya Yanagihara for fiction and Taiyo Matsumoto for graphic novels.

Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?
I tend to read across many genres, but I really don’t read much romance. So the best would have to be Sarah Maclean’s The rules of scoundrels series. I’m cheating a bit by naming a series, but to be honest I can’t quite tell the books apart now…

Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

The Ghost Brigades – John Scalzi
Very exciting.

Book You Read In 2014 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?


The Locke and Key by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez series. I read the last book in 2014, quite a while after putting down book five and had forgotten a few important bits.

Favorite cover of a book you read in 2014?
I posted a list of my favourite book covers here

Most memorable character of 2014?


Ronan Lynch of The Raven Cycle. Probably because I just finished The Dream Thieves.

Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2014 to finally read?

The song of the lark – Willa Cather
I couldn’t really come up with an answer for this one so I just picked the oldest book I read. This was published in 1915!


Shortest & Longest Book You Read?

The Lady Astronaut of Mars – Mary Robinette Kowal
A novella at 31 pages

Drood – Dan Simmons
This one I didn’t need to check. It’s a massive 775 pages. Then again the runner-up was Donna Tartt’s Goldfinch at 771 pages. Simmons also has the distinction of having the third-longest book I read, The Abominable, at 663 pages.

Book That Shocked You The Most

The whole damn Morning Glories series. I keep reading these books expecting to find answers but nope, just questionsquestionsquestions!


Best Book You Read In 2014 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure

I owe my reading of Ruby by Cynthia Bond to Andi and Bitter in the Mouth by Monique Truong to my real-life friends in Singapore!

Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?


The Shadowed Sun – N.K. Jemisin

I love N.K. Jemisin. She is awesome.

Book That Was The Most FUN To Read?

souschefFun. And hungry.



Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2014?


Sob sob.





Books in Translation Reading Challenge

2015 Translation

Books in Translation Challenge

I’m going for:

Conversationalist: 4-6 books




1Q84 – Haruki Murakami (translated from the Japanese by Jay Rubin, Philip Gabriel

Last Winter We Parted – Fuminori Nakamura (translated from the Japanese by Allison Markin Powell)

Malice – Keigo Higashino (translated from the Japanese by Alexander O. Smith)

The Road to Redemption – Su Tong, (translated from the Chinese by Howard Goldblatt)

The Seventh Day – Yu Hua (translated from the Chinese by Allan H. Barr)

The Sing-Song Girls of Shanghai – Bangqing Han (first translated from the Chinese by Eileen Chang, revised and edited by Eva Hung)

Post Office Girl – Stefan Zweig (translated from the German by Joel Rotenberg)

On a Day Like This – Peter Stamm (translated from the German by Michael Hofmann)

Who Ate Up All the Shinga?: An Autobiographical Novel – Yu Young-nan (translated from the Korean by Stephen Epstein and Wan-suh Park)

Story of a new name – Elena Ferrante (translated from the Italian by Ann Goldstein)

(and more to come!)

What are some of your recent translated reads?


#AMonthofFaves – Books I almost put down


A Month of Favorites is hosted by GirlxoxoTraveling with T, and Andi at Estella’s Revenge

I missed some great topics when I was out of town! Today’s issue is an interesting one!

The Woman Upstairs – Claire Messud

The anger that pours out of this one, right from the very first page! I was ready to give up but at the same time was curious about this woman and her rage against the world.

Zahrah the wind seeker – Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu

The Goodreads synopsis didn’t really entice and instead confused me. But I was browsing my library’s Overdrive catalogue for a quick read and was soon absorbed in the book!

Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity – Katherine Boo
I hesitated too long over reading this. Why would I want to read a book that seems rather depressing and hopeless (despite the ‘Hope’ in its title)? But I’m glad I did. It was powerful and moving. Sad, yes, undeniably so, but it opened my eyes to an unknown world.

Bitter in the mouth – Monique Truong
I talk about this book a lot, but that’s because it is a truly amazing read. I had heard of it some time ago, probably when it was first published (in 2010), but it was only after two friends, both readers and writers, told me how much they loved it that I knew I had to read it. So it’s not a “almost put down” book but a book that I might never have picked up if not for good friends!


Drood – Dan Simmons

This book has the distinction of being one that I wish I had put down! It was 775 pages too long. And while initially fascinating – it’s narrated by Wilkie Collins and tells the story of Charles Dickens! – and had its moments here and there, it was bogged down by too many details and meanderings. I skimmed through a lot of it when I really I should have just stopped reading it.

What books did you almost put down and ended up loving?

Newport Beach roadtrip


/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/70a/10455688/files/2014/12/img_4219.jpgI never thought of making Newport Beach a destination, but I’m glad we did! It was a delightful, relaxing four nights away from home, at a sprawling hotel/timeshare resort – so big it has a shuttle service, three big pools, tennis courts, playground, basketball court and more.

Holidaying with young kids is never easy – getting them to sleep at the usual time never happens, and with the younger one sleeping in our bed (the grandparents got the three-year-old), I got jabbed and kicked and edged out of bed. And because he’s 19-months-old, sleeping in means 645am – even after sleeping an hour later than usual! And of course as they always do, they fought over the same few toys and books that we brought with us, ate far more snacks than usual, and had themselves a ball of a time running around the hotel. But I managed to finish a book, get halfway through another, and even browse some magazines. So that was a great holiday!




There was all kinds of Christmassy things to set the mood. A walk in the lovely Sherman Library and Gardens in Corona del Mar found us among a garden of poinsettia and the rest of the gardens were decorated for Christmas! A cute little gem in this elite town. The kids also sat the reindeer carousel at South Coast Plaza and we managed to finally catch the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade, which was in its 106th year. We had tried – and failed – to find a place to park on Balboa Island the night before. And it was getting late and we were all hungry and tired after a long day so we skipped it. The next day, Sunday, parking was still tough but we persevered, parked so very far and walked and walked and walked to get to a viewing spot and got to see some wonderfully decorated boats, including a fire-breathing dragon! Wee Reader was so thrilled.





And of course plenty of eating! A one and a half hour wait for Din Tai Fung at South Coast Plaza! Was it worth it? Well, it’s Din Tai Fung, and they make good xiaolongbao. And there isn’t a branch in the Bay Area! 😦





And I must say that I had some rather delightful salads. From top left, the husband’s bison burger with sweet potato hash and kale at True Foods Kitchen, lemon tart and spinach and prosciutto salad at The Sliding Door Cafe at Balboa Peninsula. Some fun drinks – pomegranate limeade and a cranberry-tea-pomegranate soda at True Foods.



One of the best things was taking in the beauty of sunset from the hotel.

#AMonthofFaves – Top 5 Winter Reads


A Month of Favorites is hosted by GirlxoxoTraveling with T, and Andi at Estella’s Revenge

Today is all about last winter!

So after scanning through my handy dandy spreadsheet, I have discovered that last winter was the year I read these amazing books – how quickly we soon forget!

The elegance of the hedgehog – Muriel Barbery
I bought my copy at a library book sale, and of course held on to it for at least a year before reading it. I brought it with me on our trip to Singapore. It was a month-long visit so I would have plenty of time to read it. And I loved it. Oh those two wonderful characters and their intelligence. I passed the copy on to my sister, whom I thought would enjoy it. I haven’t yet checked if she’s read it! A delightful tale. Not very wintry but its Parisian setting makes for some welcome armchair traveling.


Last night at the lobster – Stewart O’Nan
A very wintry tale this one, although it doesn’t sound it! I love books that are set over the course of a day, and this one was awesome. We follow the employees of a to-be-closed chain restaurant as they make it through their last day of work. And it is winter. And there is snow.
At the mouth of the river of bees – Kij Johnson
A collection of stories by the amazing Kij Johnson, including the unforgettable The Man Who Bridged the Mist, which you can read part of here at Asimov’s. Not all the stories agreed with me but those that did were quite something. In case you are wondering, yes, there is a story about bees, and others about cats, dogs, monkeys, wolves.
The tale of Despereaux – Kate DiCamillo

There’s something about winter that makes me want to read fairytales. And this was sweet and enchanting.

The last policeman – Ben H Winters

This has such great concept. It’s not the trendy post-apocalyptic type of plot but a pre-apocalyptic one. Six months left till an asteroid hits Earth with devastating consequences! So there are going to be suicides and disappearances (people going Bucket List), but sometimes there are suicides and disappearances that might be suspicious and Detective Hank Palace is on the job! Mostly cos he’s the only one who cares. It’s a very different crime series. And a fun read. Despite, that is, the impending doom.

What were your favorites last winter?

#AMonthofFaves – Top 10 #Books That Blew My Mind in 2014


A Month of Favorites is hosted by GirlxoxoTraveling with T, and Andi at Estella’s Revenge


Can’t we talk about something more pleasant? – Roz Chast (my thoughts)

The Hand That First Held Mine – Maggie O’Farrell (my thoughts)

The Shadowed Sun (Dreamblood, #2) – NK Jemisin (my thoughts)

Monkey Beach – Eden Robinson (my thoughts)

Ruby – Cynthia Bond (my thoughts)

Bitter in the Mouth – Monique Truong (my thoughts)

The People in the Trees – Hanya Yanagihara (my thoughts)



Morning Glories – Nick Spencer, Joe Eisma

Is it fair to include a comic series? Well, fair or not, this won’t be the only one on my list! But man this series…. I don’t know where to begin. Which is probably why I never attempted to write an actual post about it. Let’s begin with where I first heard of the series from – Debi (thanks Debi!) who described it as “plain FUN. In a sinister, creepy, WTF sort of way.” And definitely it is all about WTF. It’s set in a prep school with all kinds of weird things going on. There are more questions than answers and as I soon learnt, that’s how the rest of the series goes. The more you look for answers, the more questions pop up. Until you just don’t bother looking for answers but hop onboard and try to keep your head on while the ride is rocketing you sky-high and then plummeting you down into the deepest of abysses and your head is in your stomach and your stomach in your head and you don’t know where is up anymore.

Sunny – Taiyo Matsumoto (my thoughts)

Locke and Key – Joe Hill, Gabriel Rodriguez

To be fair, I only read volumes 5 and 6 this year.

It seems that my preference for graphic novels tends to be of the WTF range. I forced encouraged the Husband to read the first book a few years ago, and when he was done, he refused to read further, saying it was far too morbid for him. He might have said that with a shudder. And yes, these books aren’t for the faint of heart, although I do think that Morning Glories goes a bit further with more shocking images. But what you should know is that there is some awesome writing here from Joe Hill and some gorgeous illustrations from Gabriel Rodriguez. There is violence and gore, sometimes a bit too much for even Morbid Me, but there is also such fun and imagination and creativity. Minus the gore and violence it’s actually kind of whimsical, a story about keys that perform some amazing feats – one door that takes you anywhere, another turns back time and so on. Thinking about it makes me reread all six again – a project for 2015!


So these are my top 10 (or 22!) reads of 2014.  I can’t wait to see what 2015 brings!

What were your favourites of 2014? 


#AMonthofFaves – #Reading Challenges for 2015



A Month of Favorites is hosted by GirlxoxoTraveling with T, and Andi at Estella’s Revenge

Today’s topic is a review or discussion of your choice, so I’m turning my attention to READING CHALLENGES!

So last year I didn’t commit to many reading challenges, just a few short ones like Diversiverse, Nonfiction November, RIP and Once Upon a Time – I fully intend to rejoin these shorter challenges in 2015 too! These shorter ones tend to work better for me as I never can remember to stick to my challenge lists! But one thing that challenges make me do is sit down and write about the books I read. And that is something I really need to do more of! I’m hoping these challenges will add to my reading experience in 2015!

It’s going to be 2015!! And we are still not living on the moon! My younger self would be so disappointed.

Foodies Read 2013

Foodies Read 2015

Food and books. What better than that??!

I’m going for Pastry Chef: 4 to 8 books

The Reach of a Chef – Michael Ruhlman
The Kitchen Counter Cooking School: How a Few Simple Lessons Transformed Nine Culinary Novices into Fearless Home Cooks – Kathleen Flinn
Eat To Live: Healthy Asian Recipes – Sylvia Tan
Chop Suey, USA: The Story of Chinese Food in America – Chen Yong
The Language of Food: A Linguist reads the Menu – Dan Jurafsky
The secret financial life of food: from commodities markets to supermarkets – Kara Newman
The third plate: field notes on the future of food – Dan Barber
Burnt toast makes you sing good: a memoir of food and love from an American Midwest family – Kathleen Flinn
Provence, 1970: MFK Fisher, Julia Child, James Beard, and the Reinvention of American Taste – Luke Barr






Back to the Classics 

Ok! So I need to read more classics. And I like that the cut-off date is 1965 – or at least 50 years ago. That I can do! I’m listing books in all twelve categories, which is a bit ambitious. I just hope to be able to complete six categories. But I tell you, I had such fun putting this list together!


A 19th Century Classic
Ruth – Elizabeth Gaskell (pub. 1853)

The Invisible Man – H.G. Wells (pub. 1897)

A 20th Century Classic

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – Ken Kesey (pub. 1962)

They came like swallows – William Maxwell (pub. 1937)

Tender is the Night – F Scott Fitzgerald (published 1933)

A Classic by a Woman Author.

Frenchman’s Creek – Daphne DuMaurier (pub. 1941)

A Raisin in the Sun – Lorraine Hansberry (pub. 1959)

A Classic in Translation

The Pillow Book – Sei Shōnagon (translated from Japanese, pub. 1002)

I am a Cat – Sōseki Natsume (translated from Japanese, pub. 1905)

A Very Long Classic Novel — a single work of 500 pages or longer

Shirley – Charlotte Bronte (pub. 1849, 624 pages)

A Classic Novella — any work shorter than 250 pages

The Pearl – John Steinbeck (pub. 1945)

Candide – Voltaire (pub. 1759)

The Duel – Giacomo Casanova (pub. 1789)

A Classic with a Person’s Name in the Title

Heidi – Johanna Spyri (pub. 1880)

Mary Barton – Elizabeth Gaskell (pub. 1848)

Lady Susan – Jane Austen (pub. 1791)

A Humorous or Satirical Classic

Three Men in a Boat – Jerome K Jerome (pub. 1889)

The Inimitable Jeeves (Jeeves #2) – P.G. Wodehouse (pub. 1923)

A Tale of a Tub – Jonathan Swift (pub. 1704)

A Forgotten Classic

When the Sleeper Wakes – H.G. Wells (pub. 1899)

Love On The Dole – Walter Greenwood (pub. 1933)

Four girls and a compact – Annie Hamilton Donnell (pub. 1906)

A Nonfiction Classic

Seven Years in Tibet – Heinrich Harrer (pub. 1952)

Kon-Tiki – Thor Heyerdahl (pub. 1948)

A Classic Children’s Book.

The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien (published 1937)

Pinocchio –  Carlo Collodi (pub. 1880)

A Classic Play

A Streetcar Named Desire – Tennessee Williams (pub. 1947)

Death of a Salesman – Arthur Miller (pub. 1949)


reading england 1

Reading England 2015

And because I cannot resist a good map-banner-thing. And it kind of ties in with the classics challenge above! I first saw this on Much Madness is Divinest Sense

I’m going for:

Level two: 4 – 6 counties

The first five counties I picked because of the books suggested, London as an alternate, and Sussex because I once lived there

CumbriaSwallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome

Devon: Lorna Doone by R. D. Blackmore or And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie (which is according to this list, set in Devon, and since it’s published in 1939, it’s kind of a classic, right?)

GloucestershireCider With Rose by Laurie Lee

Lancashire: The Road to Wigan Pier by George Orwell

YorkshireThe Vicar of Wakefield by Oliver Goldsmith

London: Keep the Apidistra Flying by George Orwell

Sussex:  The Talisman Ring by Georgette Heyer

Yorkshire: The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (I hope it’s ok that I reread this – it was something I read many years ago as a child, and am now curious to see if I would enjoy it!)

PS I might have to change the counties/books chosen here depending on the availability of the books from the library!


What reading challenges are you thinking of joining next year? 

It’s Monday and I’m reading The Dream Thieves

itsmondayIt’s Monday! What are you reading?” is a weekly event hosted by Sheila at Bookjourney to share with others what we’ve read the past week and planning to read next.


I’ve spent the last couple of days nursing a bad cough. The kind that gets you up several times at night hacking away. My mother-in-law has been simmering barley and winter melon with some rock sugar for a cooling drink. Also, in case you too have a cough and don’t have access to barley and winter melon, beer is cooling too! 🙂


Speaking of alcohol, my father-in-law enjoyed his trip to our local BevMo, buying root beer, ales and cider. Alcohol in Singapore is on the expensive side (as most things in Singapore are – it is the land of the $100,000+ Honda Civic after all), so he always makes a BevMo stop when he visits.


And other exciting things that happened, my sister in Singapore sent me some books by local authors! And a very cute Christmas postcard!


We also survived #hellastorm #stormageddon or whatever else they were calling the great storm of December 11. And we’re due for another on Monday.   Thankfully the storm didn’t hit my town too hard. Sandbags were offered, roads were closed, we had bought extra batteries and torchlights but didn’t need to use them as our power stayed on. We were the lucky ones – some half a million homes in California were without power for quite a while.





Wee Reader and I made Christmas cookies!





My mother-in-law made big pots of chicken curry and sayur lodeh, a vegetable curry.




Little, Big – John Crowley

It is a strange and wondrous world that Crowley has created. There is a hue of dreaminess, a fairytale-like shade about this book. It’s kind of meandering but rather fascinating.


The Dream Thieves – Maggie Stiefvater

Part two of the trilogy. I’ve only just started but judging by the first book, this ought to be interesting.


A Natural History of Dragons – Marie Brennan

I’ve also just started this one but the beginning is already a good read.


We recently introduced my father-in-law to Spotify by playing all sorts of oldies or rather, getting him to name his favourite songs like A Lover’s Concerto by The Toys, and playing them for him. He’s caught on to the giant library and has apparently been listening to music on Spotify till late at night!


I was curious about Marco Polo, the new Netflix series, and just started watching the first episode. Have you seen it yet?




Green tea


Oxtail stew! I love oxtail but the Husband doesn’t. So I have to wait until either my parents or my in-laws visit till I get to cook and eat some!

Also we bought a big bag of spinach from Costco the other day and I’ll probably use it with spaghetti, maybe with sausage or salmon.

Last week…

I read:

West of Sunset – Stewart O’Nan

Review to come


Life After Life – Kate Atkinson

I’m trying to figure out what to write about this. Check back soon.

I posted:

#AMonthofFaves – Favourite New-to-Me Authors     

TLC Book Tours: Fog Island Mountains     

Library Loot (Dec 10 2014)     

#AMonthofFaves – my year in #reading     

#AMonthofFaves – Favourite TV series for repeated viewing     

#AMonthofFaves – Picking Favourites     

What are you reading this week?

#AMonthofFaves – Picking Favourites



A Month of Favorites is hosted by GirlxoxoTraveling with T, and Andi at Estella’s Revenge

Today it’s all about favorites from other bloggers’ posts!

Megan at Leafing Through Life brought my attention to some great movies this year in her Five Fave Movies of the Year list. I don’t often go to the cinemas so we tend to rent or e-rent (?) movies to watch at home when the kids go to bed. St Vincent and The Giver are going on my (mental) list of movies to watch next.

And Sarah at Sarah’s Book Shelves’ timeline post led me to her interesting post about Liane Moriarty, an author I’ve been curious about but have yet to read.

I just made a pot of mushroom soup for lunch, but now I want to try the Slow-Cooker Tomato Basil Parmesan Soup from Helen at My Novel Opinion‘s Fave Winter-Warmer Recipes. Slow-Cooker! Tomato! Basil! Parmesan!

And now I am hungry.