Talking As Fast as I Can

First things first. If you haven’t watched the Gilmore Girls reboot – and especially if you’ve never seen Gilmore Girls at all – you really should just go carve out a good chunk of your time and go watch them all. Right now. Pop some popcorn, make lots of coffee, get in your pjs and settle down with Netflix. There are seven seasons and 4 90-minute episodes!

I’ve been watching and rewatching the original Gilmore Girls for years. And of course I watched the re-whatever it was when it came out. It was both exciting and comforting and also at times a bit disappointing (more Lane!! More Mrs Kim!! More Jess!! Why was Rory not even reading a book?? I love Matt Czuchry (Logan) but I did not like what he and Rory had going o). And that weird bit where they sit by the pool, I would just skip that entirely. Also while I love Sutton Foster, I won’t rewatch the Stars Hollow musical.)

An attempt at bookface for Litsy the other day only to realize later that my hair is horrendous!

I wasn’t at all disappointed with this book though. I mean sure you can’t go into it expecting writing that blows you away. But if you’re a GG fan then I think you would be happy with it. Lauren Graham writes in a friendly conversational way. Like you were sitting at Luke’s and eating burgers and fries and she was right opposite you, telling you all this. And pancakes and coffee. And tacos and coffee. It would be a really loonnng conversation.

Part of me wishes I listened to this as an audiobook but neither of the libraries I’m a member of had it in their Overdrive so eh. But I guess I could always sign up for Audible or something.

But back to the book. The best part of it is of course when Graham talks about the show she is most famous for. But she also talks about her childhood (she lived in Japan! Her mom was so glamorous!), she walks us through what it was like for her starting out as an actor and more. Interesting enough, but you know it’s kind of filler for what this book is really marketed to be – the book for the Gilmore Girls fan, published not long after the reboot appeared.

And it was a fun light-hearted read. It made me smile and gave me the warm fuzzies sometimes, as she reminisced about the show. You don’t go into a book like this expecting anything profound or insightful. It was a quick fun read and I just adored it for what it is, and pretty much what you expect from the subtitle From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls, and Everything in Between.

Summing up 2016

Happy new year!

I’ve done these year-end summaries for a few years now, you can check out what I was up to in 2015, 2014, and 2013

Total books read: 234

2015’s total: 286
2014’s total: 217
2013’s total: 223
2012’s total: 227
2011’s total: 171 

gender

That looks about right. It tends to be somewhat evenly split between men and women writers. I want to work on reading more books by women this year.

 

genre

About half of my reads are graphic novels and comics, which is how I manage to read more than 200 books every year.

This year I want to work on more classics, more short stories.

 

source

I’m a big fan of the library but I really ought to read more books from my own library!!

types

This was the first year that audiobooks made some inroads in my reading life. Not very much but I hope to steadily grow that number as the years go by, as for me audiobooks means going on regular walks.

 

diverse

I hope to read more consciously and get the percentage of diverse reads up to 50!

translation

I didn’t do so well with translated books this year, a slight drop from last year which was 14%.

year

Specifically, I read 46 books published in 2016. The oldest book I read was published in 1901.

Page length

The longest book I read was City on Fire at 944 pages (luckily it was an e-book). The shortest was Faith #0 at 32 pages.

Here’s to a wonderful reading year ahead! Despite everything else that happens, we will always have books.

#amonthoffaves2016 – Books that blew my mind

amonthoffaves

A Month of Faves is hosted by AndiTanya and Tamara

Top 10 Books that Blew My Mind This Year

Books Published in 2016

Monstress Vol 1 by Marjorie Liu, Sana Takeda blew me away with its absolutely exquisite illustrations. The details in the artwork, even the clothes the characters wear, was just unbelievable.

Do Not Say We Have Nothing – Madeleine Thien
Undoubtedly one of the best reads of the year. Such beautiful writing, such a difficult and painful setting, and yet with all the music that surrounds them, still filled with so much hope.

The Wangs vs the World – Jade Chang
This book isn’t for everyone but I loved how it was a more than just and Asian-American story. It’s a story about a family whose fortunes had fallen. I have to admit that the first few pages threw me off as I wasn’t sure if I liked Charles Wang’s voice, but I’m so glad I stuck with it. It was also surprisingly funny and endearing – I loved how the three siblings are so close.

Rise of the Rocket Girls – Nathalia Holt
I loved learning about how the “computers” at Jet Propulsion Labs were women. That is, all the calculations, the trajectories etc of the rockets were calculated by a group of people, who happened to be women, as they were faster and more accurate than the computers of that time.

We love you, Charlie Freeman – Kaitlyn Greening
Why isn’t this book talked about more?

The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye – Sonny Liew
This book got its government grant pulled just days before the launch, as the National Arts Council decided: “The retelling of Singapore’s history in the work potentially undermines the authority or legitimacy of the government and its public institutions, and thus breaches our funding guidelines.”. But Singaporeans love a controversy and they went out and bought it – its first print run of 1000 copies sold out in the first weekend.
My sister-in-law bought it for me for Christmas last year and I read it a few weeks later. I loved how Liew combined so many different illustrative styles in one book. How he sort of retold the Singapore story from the perspective of this fictional cartoonist, but also included Liew himself and his own thoughts into the story. It was brave, not just from a Singaporean’s point of view, but from a reader of graphic novels and comics, for
(You can read more about it in this post from the Asian American Writers Workshop)

3 books I missed reading in 2015

In the country: stories Mia Alvar

A manual for cleaning women Lucia Berlin

Delicious Foods James Hannah

#amonthoffaves2016 – Fave covers

amonthoffaves

A Month of Faves is hosted by AndiTanya and Tamara

Favorite Book Covers From Our Reads This Year – what did you like about each one?

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I read lots of beautiful books this year. Here are some of my favourites!

sugarbread

Sugarbread – Balli Kaur Jaswal

I have to say that I just adore this one. I feel like Singapore’s publishing industry has evolved a lot in the past few years and I like that more attention is being paid to the artwork on covers too.

Mr Splitfoot – Samantha Hunt
An intriguing cover!

charliechan

The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye – Sonny Liew

This isn’t the version of the book I have (see below). But I kind of adore this one, which has the look of a traditional Chinese ad in Singapore.

manualcleaningwomen

I love this one – both the simple cover and the stories that Lucia Berlin tells

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Mercury – Margot Livesey (my thoughts)

The blurry horse in the background is a hint at what the story is about.

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Flight – Oona Frawley (my thoughts)

Sometimes the simplest of covers work best

longway

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet – Becky Chambers

Who wouldn’t gaze at this image and wonder what the universe is like?

What covers were among your favourites this year?

#amonthoffaves2016 – Reading challenges

amonthoffaves

A Month of Faves is hosted by AndiTanya and Tamara

Challenges {The Year End Updates on Reading Challenges, Personal Goals, Resolutions}– how did you do? Are you going to do more challenges next year?
Ah challenges. You gotta love them (and also detest them).
Ok so if you want to go a little bonkers, go check out Tanya’s amazing list of reading challenges. Go ahead. You know you want to.
(Right? Amazing! Bonkers yet? Ok, let’s continue).
Every year around this time, perhaps its the Christmas lights or the fumes of alcohol in the air, but every December I am enticed, I am tempted, I am seduced by the very many reading challenges that leap forth. I want them, I want them all. Ok perhaps not all, as there are usually quite a few YA/ARC related ones, which I definitely can skip. And not to forget all those other ones that pop up along the year, like Once Upon a Time, Readers Imbibing in Peril (RIP) and Nonfiction November, which I do try to take part in.
But let’s get back to the important questions there right at the top. How did I do this year? Not very well. Let’s just leave it at that. It’s going to be a new year soon, so let’s leave 2016 behind!
As for what I plan to do next year?
The Goodreads reading challenge
Over at Litsy, there are a couple of challenges running, the A to Z challenge and the Litsy reading challenge (which has its own Goodreads group). I also have my eye on Bookriot’s Read Harder challenge as I am intrigued and possibly frustrated by some of the topics (micro press???).

#amonthoffaves2016 – I Love … December

amonthoffaves

A Month of Faves is hosted by AndiTanya and Tamara

 I Love … December

Favorite holiday festivities, favorite ornaments, home decor, places to go, holiday drinks, holiday eats, holiday themed reads

This year my husband’s mentor sent us some holiday treats! Christmas mugs for everyone, lots of snacks, hot chocolate and chocolate. The kids were very pleased with their Christmas mugs – one a snowman and the other a Santa Claus and have used it everyday since.


One thing we make sure we do every year is make Christmas cookies. Last year we went for butter cookies with icing but this year, I wanted to try this gingerbread cookie recipe from King Arthur Flour which was just perfect. It had the right amount of spice (although I added an extra bit more of ginger) and such a great texture – a little bit crisp and a little bit chewy.

And I love reading Christmas-themed picture books with the kids!

#amonthoffaves2016 – #iregretnothing

amonthoffaves

A Month of Faves is hosted by AndiTanya and Tamara

Today’s topic: Keep It! 5 Purchases That Were Totally Worth It

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(I oughta take a new photo – I’ve put more books in now!)

IKEA wing chair

At $279 (and an additional $89 for the ottoman) it isn’t an expensive wing chair. I had, for example, also eyed the Crate and Barrel wing chair and the Room and Board one which both have the same retail price of $1299! But buying a chair, in addition to that new sofa we were getting to replace the nearly 10-year-old one, that seemed like a bit of an extravagance. However, when it was placed in the new library, it just made the room something special. It was definitely worth it!

Bookshelves

As were the shelves! I know IKEA shelves aren’t exactly something that you consider a splurge. I mean, we also own some Room and Board shelves that cost far more. While IKEA shelves are relatively cheap, they require time and effort to put up. Never an easy thing when there are two young boys running around and getting in our way. Luckily they were content to sit by the side and watch us fix it (for a bit – then I had to go put Netflix on). And how perfectly the two shelves fit in the room! And now every night, before bed, we head to the library for story time!

Premium economy on EVA Air

OK so this doesn’t exactly count as it’s not returnable in any way!

On our trip to Singapore in July, we flew the Taiwanese airline EVA (via Taipei), something different as we usually fly Singapore Airlines (SIA). Because we booked our flight a bit late, we found out that the premium economy EVA Air tickets were about the same price as SIA economy! Premium economy also works far better because of their 2-4-2 seating vs economy which is 3-3-3 seating (we have two kids). And boy the legroom. It was so roomy that there was no need to get out of the seat to let one of the kids, or even the husband out. The seats also recline a lot more than economy, making it a flight on which everyone had a pretty decent sleep. Well, except me, because I can never sleep on flights! Flying from San Francisco to Singapore is a pretty long flight (20 hours with a 2 hour transit) so comfort is definitely a priority!

Lego 

My husband is a big fan of Lego, and one of the first sets we built together was the Millennium Falcon. That was fun, but when we discovered the Lego building sets for adults, I fell in love with their amazing details! My 5yo will help put some pieces together but the small pieces are still a bit tricky for my 3yo to work on. So this is mostly a grown-ups kind of Lego. We have picked up a few building sets but so far have only finished the pet shop and we are almost done with the restaurant. I just adore the restaurant! I love the look of the kitchen, even the way they put together the wine cupboard and the curtains were just genius! Also there’s a dumpster out back with a rat.

restaurant

You can see lots of other detailed photos at this review. 

These cute shoes from Kenneth Cole

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And comfy too!

So that’s fine things, but I’m going to have another, the books.

I do not regret, never will regret the books!

#amonthoffaves2016 – Winter Survival

amonthoffaves

A Month of Faves is hosted by AndiTanya and Tamara

5 Must Haves for Winter Survival – shout out your favorite brand or stores or favorite items

Fall/Winter in Northern California is pretty mild compared to what some of you guys experience. We do have to break out the coats and scarves and turn on the heater but so far it’s never gone below freezing yet. I’m typing this on a very windy morning though, and it’s expected to storm this afternoon. We’ve been getting a surprising amount of rain this year, especially compared to last winter, and there’s even been quite a bit of snow up in the Sierras.

So here are some of my must-haves

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Last year we took the kids to their first ever snow trip up in Soda Springs and I bought these for myself for the trip at the Columbia outlet! They’re so comfy and warm and waterproof too. I know we don’t get snow here but it’s a great pair of boots to wear when it rains.

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Body oil

Dryness is such an issue during the cold season, especially with the heater running in the daytime. I started using this body oil from Target (it was cheap!) after showering in the evening and it’s really helped. Sometimes I still slather on moisturizer on top of the oil! I like also that it has a very very light fragrance, as I tend not to use products that smell too strongly.

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Facial oil

I am in search of a new facial oil. I’ve been using this one from Boots for more than a year now but I haven’t seen it in stock at the two Targets near me! It’s available on Amazon but for more than twice the price….grrr…. so I would love to know if you use a facial oil and whether you’d recommend it. And if you don’t use a facial oil, what do you use instead? My nighttime routine is wash face, put on eye cream, this facial oil and a night time moisturizer from L’Oreal. The facial oil really helps with my combination skin, as my cheeks and chin can be quite dry sometimes. And when I had a bad cough/cold earlier this month, the skin around my nose was dry and peeling, this facial oil really helped with that. So leave me some recommendations in the comments!

Hand creams

SUCH a necessity when it gets cold. With two kids I wash my hands a lot and my hands are already somewhat dry, and in winter it just gets worse especially the ‘chicken wing’ area as my kids like to call it, between the thumb and second finger. I use a variety of hand creams, mostly from The Face Shop which were a gift last Christmas.

#amonthoffaves2016 – Reading Outside My Comfort Zone

amonthoffaves

A Month of Faves is hosted by AndiTanya and Tamara

Reading Outside My Comfort Zone

Here’s what I typically read: fiction, graphic novels and comics, SF and fantasy, and because I have two boys aged 3 and 5, plenty of picture books, beginning readers and now some easier chapter books. I also sometimes read non-fiction but not as much as I would like.

So for me reading outside my comfort zone means genres like romance and YA.

And hey I actually did read some of that this year!

bollywoodaffair

I was surprised to find myself liking A Bollywood Affair by Sonali Dev, once I managed to get over the over-dramatic way things seem to happen – they first meet when she falls over, hurts her ankle AND her writs (running away from him – long story), and he decides to care for her (rather devotedly). And there’s the whole back story of how she’s actually been married to his brother since the age of four. Over the top but kinda fun.

everything

Everything Everything – Nicola Yoon

I read this partly because I kept seeing it everywhere. And also partly because I love this tweet of hers and I wanted to see what her writing was like.

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I think my teenaged self would have really liked this book but the far more skeptical adult me was rolling my eyes a bit.