The Deep by Alma Katsu #ripxv

Creepy book set on both the Titanic and the Britannica (its sister ship that also sank) that is perfect for Halloween season. Also since I’m not going any where near a cruise ship in the near future, perfectly fine to be reading about water spirits and that unsettling feeling of being on the deep sea (at least for me). I don’t know much about the history of either ships but later learned that a few characters in the book were real life passengers and that indeed there was a staff member, Violet Jessie, who served on both ships – and survived. Fascinating. Also rather disturbing… I can see how she served as inspiration for this book.

But back to The Deep. Like Katsu’s previous book, The Hunger, this is historical fiction with a supernatural twist. But it is done so very skillfully and woven into the plot and brings in both ages-old mythology and superstition as well as the spiritualism that was popular at the time. 

I loved all the detail and research that went into this book. Even the minor characters are just felt so well-rounded and believable. And while we all know the fates of these ships, I couldn’t put this book down thanks to great characters both real and imaginary, all those small historical details, and that delightful satisfying feeling about reading a well-written book.

It’s Monday (September 28, 2020)

It’s the last week of September! And we are in a heatwave again, hooray…

I really appreciated last week’s great air quality and cool breezes but Sunday was hot and today will be even hotter! And so will the rest of the week….

I tell you, this always happens once we actually hit autumn, the sun decides those of us in the Bay Area haven’t had enough of her power, and has to whack us with one good solid heatwave to let us know she’s in charge.

But pandemic + hot hot heat means home with the AC on, while others flock to the beaches.

I’ve been slowly introducing the kids to the Studio Ghibli movies. They’ve loved Totoro for quite a few years now and have also seen Ponyo but in recent weeks we have also watched The Cat Returns and Spirited Away. I think next weekend we will give one of my favorites, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, a try. This weekend, the husband wanted to watch Long Way Up, the TV series starring Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman who ride motorcycles (this time, electric Harleys) around different countries. In this series they’re traveling from the bottom of South America to Los Angeles. And the crew are in electric pickup trucks.

Meanwhile, here’s what else we did last week.

On Friday, the Mister Softee truck randomly stopped outside our house. We live at the back of the neighborhood so it’s not exactly a place that would be a stop for an ice-cream truck. But it was meant to be!

I had some cod to use up and decided to make it two ways, cod chowder (which the kids wanted) and a cod and prawn stew.

Oh hey, I joined Storygraph. Are you on there? It’s intentionally un-social media-like so it’s not the easiest to find out who’s following you. Please let me know what your username is. Mine is RealLifeReading.




Game of Thrones

And also the latest season of the Great British Bake-off! It was so interesting reading of how everyone on it had to quarantine to form a GBBO bubble and take 3 COVID-19 tests before they could start.


The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins


 A slice of homemade Lemon Bliss Cake (recipe from King Arthur Flour) made with homegrown Meyer lemons.


Assam Calcutta Auction tea from Lupicia


I haven’t a clue! Although I was craving for some Hawaiian-style macaroni salad a couple of days ago… and it’s such a hot week too, so that’s a perfect one to make.

Last week:

I read:

The Deep by Alma Katsu

Camp Spirit by Axelle Lenoir

I posted:

Strawberry ice-cream #weekendcooking

Recent reads: There’s Someone Inside Your House; Sex and Vanity

Library Loot (September 23 to 29)

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

Recent reads: There’s Someone Inside Your House; Sex and Vanity

These are just super short reviews of books that didn’t quite make it for me.

There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins

This reminded me of those teen slasher movies like Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer. The villain has a tendency to move objects around victims’ houses (I don’t really know why – to freak people out perhaps?) and so that finding out that kitchen drawers are open or the egg timer has suddenly appeared in a different place was really creepy. I liked the main character Makani, who has recently moved from Hawaii to small town Nebraska, and she is half black and half Native Hawaiian, also there are hints at a big dark secret.

And here we have to keep in mind that Perkins is a writer of cute romances like Anna and the French Kiss, so she’s got a romance thrown in here, and that slows the plot down a bit. But when we get back on track with the murders, the pace picks up. So that part was fine with me.

However, once we got to the villain’s reveal, the story just went downhill from there for me. And then it ended so quickly after the big finish that it felt that the author got tired of writing the story. It was an ok story, some good build-up at the beginning, but a 3* read for me.

Sex and Vanity by Kevin Kwan

A fun escapist read perhaps? I enjoyed all the descriptions of the wedding in Capri but the main character was a bit boring and I found it hard to root for her. And about half way through the book, I actually thought, ok how many more pages of this do I need to get through? Admittedly, I was not fond of Crazy Rich Asians, never read the rest of that series, but thought I would give Kwan’s new book a try, so you ought to take my opinion in that light.

Library Loot (September 23 to 29)

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.

Hello! And welcome to the last Library Loot of September! Also, hello autumn!

Claire has the link-up this week

Some RIPXV-related holds came in for me this week.

Empire of Wild by Cherie Dimaline

Joan has been searching for her missing husband, Victor, for nearly a year—ever since that terrible night they’d had their first serious argument hours before he mysteriously vanished. Her Métis family has lived in their tightly knit rural community for generations, but no one keeps the old ways . . . until they have to. That moment has arrived for Joan.

One morning, grieving and severely hungover, Joan hears a shocking sound coming from inside a revival tent in a gritty Walmart parking lot. It is the unmistakable voice of Victor. Drawn inside, she sees him. He has the same face, the same eyes, the same hands, though his hair is much shorter and he’s wearing a suit. But he doesn’t seem to recognize Joan at all. He insists his name is Eugene Wolff, and that he is a reverend whose mission is to spread the word of Jesus and grow His flock. Yet Joan suspects there is something dark and terrifying within this charismatic preacher who professes to be a man of God . . . something old and very dangerous.

Joan turns to Ajean, an elderly foul-mouthed card shark who is one of the few among her community steeped in the traditions of her people and knowledgeable about their ancient enemies. With the help of the old Métis and her peculiar Johnny-Cash-loving, twelve-year-old nephew Zeus, Joan must find a way to uncover the truth and remind Reverend Wolff who he really is . . . if he really is. Her life, and those of everyone she loves, depends upon it.

The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling

A thrilling, atmospheric debut with the intensive drive of The Martian and Gravity and the creeping dread of Annihilation, in which a caver on a foreign planet finds herself on a terrifying psychological and emotional journey for survival.

When Gyre Price lied her way into this expedition, she thought she’d be mapping mineral deposits, and that her biggest problems would be cave collapses and gear malfunctions. She also thought that the fat paycheck—enough to get her off-planet and on the trail of her mother—meant she’d get a skilled surface team, monitoring her suit and environment, keeping her safe. Keeping her sane.

Instead, she got Em.

Em sees nothing wrong with controlling Gyre’s body with drugs or withholding critical information to “ensure the smooth operation” of her expedition. Em knows all about Gyre’s falsified credentials, and has no qualms using them as a leash—and a lash. And Em has secrets, too . . .

As Gyre descends, little inconsistencies—missing supplies, unexpected changes in the route, and, worst of all, shifts in Em’s motivations—drive her out of her depths. Lost and disoriented, Gyre finds her sense of control giving way to paranoia and anger. On her own in this mysterious, deadly place, surrounded by darkness and the unknown, Gyre must overcome more than just the dangerous terrain and the Tunneler which calls underground its home if she wants to make it out alive—she must confront the ghosts in her own head.

But how come she can’t shake the feeling she’s being followed?

Oooh very excited to have this hold come in!

When No One is Watching – Alyssa Cole

Sydney Green is Brooklyn born and raised, but her beloved neighborhood seems to change every time she blinks. Condos are sprouting like weeds, FOR SALE signs are popping up overnight, and the neighbors she’s known all her life are disappearing. To hold onto her community’s past and present, Sydney channels her frustration into a walking tour and finds an unlikely and unwanted assistant in one of the new arrivals to the block—her neighbor Theo.

But Sydney and Theo’s deep dive into history quickly becomes a dizzying descent into paranoia and fear. Their neighbors may not have moved to the suburbs after all, and the push to revitalize the community may be more deadly than advertised.

When does coincidence become conspiracy? Where do people go when gentrification pushes them out? Can Sydney and Theo trust each other—or themselves—long enough to find out before they too disappear?

This is by an Indonesian writer and translated from Indonesian. It’s not RIP-related but sounded interesting.

The Wandering – Intan Paramaditha

You’ve grown roots, you’re gathering moss. You’re desperate to escape your boring life teaching English in Jakarta, to go out and see the world. So you make a Faustian pact with a devil, who gives you a gift, and a warning. A pair of red shoes to take you wherever you want to go.

But where will you choose to go?

To New York, to follow your dreams?

To Berlin or Amsterdam? Lima or Tijuana? Or onto a train that will never stop?

You’re forever wandering, everywhere and nowhere, but are you ever home?

The choices you make may mean you end up as a tourist or an undocumented migrant, a mother or a murderer, and you will meet many travellers with their own stories to tell. As your paths cross and intertwine, you’ll come to realise that no story is ever new.

The Wandering is a novel about the highs and lows of global nomadism, the politics and privileges of travel and desire, and the freedoms and limitations of the choices we make, by one of Asia’s most exciting writers. It’s a playful and ingenious reminder that borders are real, that turns the traditional adventure story on its head.

What did you get from your library this week?

It’s Monday (September 21, 2020)

It’s Monday, again! How was your weekend? We actually had good air quality for a few days so it was nice to take walks, let the boys go to the park for a bit, get some fresh air. But today, the air quality is back in the not-so-good range again. Here’s hoping it will clear up again!

I did some baking on Thursday, churning out my favourite walnut bread (recipe from King Arthur Flour) as well as some scones (my favourite recipe is from The Baking Bible and they are the most buttery scones ever).

We got flu shots over the weekend!

Had a hankering for laksa over the weekend. Luckily had some of the ingredients and the laksa paste!

We had Korean fried chicken from Bonchon – half spicy, half soy garlic. Wasn’t very good, sadly.



The Deep – Alma Katsu


We recently got HBO Max after switching to AT&T and that means I finally get to watch Game of Thrones.


The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins


Had homemade walnut bread for breakfast




The 7yo told me last night, “we haven’t had Japanese curry for a long time!” So Japanese curry it is.

Also I feel like having pad thai so will try to make some later this week.

Last week:

I read:

Dirt by Bill Buford (see below for link to my review)

Sex and Vanity by Kevin Kwan (thoughts to come)

There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins (I have things to say, will formulate a post!)

I posted:

(Go me! I actually had book reviews last week!)

Dirt by Bill Buford #weekendcooking

Loner by Georgina Young

Library Loot (September 16 to 22)

Gorgeous covers #TopTenTuesday

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

Loner by Georgina Young

This is a book my early-20-something-year-old probably would have appreciated

Lona is 20, a university dropout, she works at a skate rink and at a Coles supermarket in Melbourne. And she’s lonely. Her friend Tab is in a new relationship and Lona is infatuated with a former classmate but she doesn’t know what to do about that. She’s learning to be an adult, she’s moved out of her parents’ house and into the curtained-off living room of a house that two other friends are renting. And she feels like she’s weird, she would rather leave a party early and go home to watch TV, or just stay in with takeout and watch Buffy. She wonders why she can never say what she really wants to say, why others can, and why they don’t seem as awkward as she always feels

I appreciated the super short chapters and its cynical, humorous tone. It’s a book that would be relatable if you’ve ever felt lost or unsure about what you want to do with your life. It’s not exactly plot-driven so it was a bit hard to get into initially but I really enjoyed reading it as I felt that Young managed to capture that adult, but not quite an adult, feeling of being a 20-something. Also, that cover, which so happens to match my crocheted throw

Library Loot (September 16 to 22)

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!

Don’t forget to link up or leave a comment below.

Every RIP season I consider this book but never actually brave it. But after my successful go at Crime and Punishment via audiobook, I decided to give the audiobook version of The Woman in White a try!

The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins

In one moment, every drop of blood in my body was brought to a stop… There, as if it had that moment sprung out of the earth, stood the figure of a solitary Woman, dressed from head to foot in white’

The Woman in White famously opens with Walter Hartright’s eerie encounter on a moonlit London road. Engaged as a drawing master to the beautiful Laura Fairlie, Walter becomes embroiled in the sinister intrigues of Sir Percival Glyde and his ‘charming’ friend Count Fosco, who has a taste for white mice, vanilla bonbons, and poison. Pursuing questions of identity and insanity along the paths and corridors of English country houses and the madhouse, The Woman in White is the first and most influential of the Victorian genre that combined Gothic horror with psychological realism.

Another RIP book. I read the first book in the series a couple of years ago, and it was fun and I liked the setting of the Asian mall in which the Chinese restaurant is located.

Dim Sum of All Fears (A Noodle Shop Story #2) – Vivien Chien

Welcome back to Ho-Lee Noodle House, where you can get fantastic take-out. . .unless you get taken out first.

Lana Lee is a dutiful daughter, waiting tables at her family’s Chinese restaurant even though she’d rather be doing just about anything else. Then, just when she has a chance for a “real” job, her parents take off to Taiwan, leaving Lana in charge. Surprising everyone―including herself―she turns out to be quite capable of running the place. Unfortunately, the newlyweds who just opened the souvenir store next door to Ho-Lee have turned up dead. . .and soon Lana finds herself in the midst of an Asia Village mystery.

Between running the Ho-Lee and trying to figure out whether the rock-solid Detective Adam Trudeau is actually her boyfriend, Lana knows she shouldn’t pry into the case. But the more she learns about the dead husband, his ex-wives, and all the murky details of the couple’s past, the more Lana thinks that this so-called murder/suicide is a straight-up order of murder. . .

I first saw this book on Claire’s post,

The Switch – Beth O’Leary

When overachiever Leena Cotton is ordered to take a two-month sabbatical after blowing a big presentation at work, she escapes to her grandmother Eileen’s house for some overdue rest. Eileen is newly single and about to turn eighty. She’d like a second chance at love, but her tiny Yorkshire village doesn’t offer many eligible gentlemen.

Once Leena learns of Eileen’s romantic predicament, she proposes a solution: a two-month swap. Eileen can live in London and look for love. Meanwhile Leena will look after everything in rural Yorkshire. But with gossiping neighbours and difficult family dynamics to navigate up north, and trendy London flatmates and online dating to contend with in the city, stepping into one another’s shoes proves more difficult than either of them expected.

Leena learns that a long-distance relationship isn’t as romantic as she hoped it would be, and then there is the annoyingly perfect – and distractingly handsome – school teacher, who keeps showing up to outdo her efforts to impress the local villagers. Back in London, Eileen is a huge hit with her new neighbours, but is her perfect match nearer home than she first thought?

Superfudge – Judy Blume (audiobook read by Judy Blume)

The boys enjoyed listening to Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing (also read by Blume), and wanted to listen to more, although I realised belatedly that Also Known As Sheila the Great is the second book. I had fun listening along to the first book too, as this was something I read when I was a kid.

What did you get from your library this week?

Gorgeous covers #TopTenTuesday

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is:

It’s a cover freebie!

So I’m just going to go ahead and pick some gorgeous cover art that has caught my eye recently.

These are all books on my TBR list and the links are to the Goodreads pages.

Grown by Tiffany D Jackson

This one definitely stood out for me. Love it! Especially the way the title is in the earring.

Instant Karma by Marissa Meyer

Adorable!! I love the fun use of the backward tandem bike and the heart-shaped bag! Although I later did a double-take as I realised this is a book by Marissa Meyer, who wrote the Lunar Chronicles series.

We Are Not Free by Traci Chee

Love how this is graffiti and real life (?) combined, which I only realised when I looked at it in larger size instead of the thumbnail.

Super Fake Love Song by David Yoon

Really fun cover, from the use of the font to the record.

Remote Control by Nnedi Okorafor

Ok I am just excited to learn that Okorafor has a new book coming!

Sisters by Daisy Johnson

Definitely an eye-catching one!

Pine by Francine Toon

I like how stark this one is, and with that missing back of the deer, gives me a somewhat eerie feeling, which according to the Goodreads synopsis, suits the book.

Bestiary by K-Ming Chang

I’m especially intrigued by why the tail is going down that hole….

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.

It’s Monday (September 14, 2020)

If you’ve been keeping up with the news, you probably will have read about the many many fires we’ve been having in western USA. At first it started with mainly the Bay Area (and luckily that huge fire  – 396,000 acres – nearest us has been contained).

But there are still very many huge wildfires in Northern California, now also in Oregon and Washington. And it’s been scary to read of the many communities that have been destroyed, the lives lost. We had that one weird Thursday of apocalyptic skies, waking up to an orange glow that never went away all day.

Lights were on all day because we couldn’t see the sun, which was blocked by both the wildfire smoke and the marine layer that trapped it. The skies haven’t been orange since then but the air quality has been horrendous. Our windows are always closed, the air filter running, but I still wake up with a scratchy throat.

Well, we didn’t do much last weekend. But the kids and I made chocolate chip cookies.

I felt like having steak and wine so we shared a ribeye (which I butter basted), also grilled some asparagus and baby potatoes.

Some spicy beef noodles we had for takeout on Saturday.



The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires – Grady Hendrix


We just got HBO Max and so I can finally watch HBO series like Westworld and Game of Thrones.


The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins


A slice of homemade banana cake – it’s more of a Southeast Asian style banana cake, very light


Assam Calcutta Auction tea from Lupicia


Last week:

I read:

You Brought me the Ocean – Alex Sanchez and Julie Maroh

Dirt – Bill Buford

I posted:

Last Tang Standing by Lauren Ho

Library Loot (September 9 to 15)

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 (September 9 to 15)

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.

Hello and welcome to another Wednesday! Claire has the link-up this week.

How has your week been?

It was a 3-day weekend here in the US but we hung out at home and relaxed.

The start of a new month means new comics to pick up from Hoopla!

Camp Spirit by Axelle Lenoir

Summer camp is supposed to be about finding nirvana in a rock garden… But Elodie prefers Nirvana and Soundgarden. Can she confront rambunctious kids, confusing feelings, and supernatural horrors all at once?

Summer 1994: with just two months left before college, Elodie is forced by her mother to take a job as a camp counselor. She doesn’t know the first thing about nature, or sports, of kids for that matter, and isn’t especially interested in learning… but now she’s responsible for a foul-mouthed horde of red-headed girls who just might win her over, whether she likes it or not. Just as Elodie starts getting used to her new environment, though — and close to one of the other counselors — a dark mystery lurking around the camp begins to haunt her dreams 

Sheets by Brenna Thummler

Marjorie Glatt feels like a ghost. A practical thirteen year old in charge of the family laundry business, her daily routine features unforgiving customers, unbearable P.E. classes, and the fastidious Mr. Saubertuck who is committed to destroying everything she’s worked for.

Wendell is a ghost. A boy who lost his life much too young, his daily routine features ineffective death therapy, a sheet-dependent identity, and a dangerous need to seek purpose in the forbidden human world.

When their worlds collide, Marjorie is confronted by unexplainable disasters as Wendell transforms Glatt’s Laundry into his midnight playground, appearing as a mere sheet during the day. While Wendell attempts to create a new afterlife for himself, he unknowingly sabotages the life that Marjorie is struggling to maintain.

You Brought Me the Ocean – Alex Sanchez, illustrated by Julie Maroh

Jake Hyde doesn’t swim—not since his father drowned. Luckily, he lives in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, which is in the middle of the desert, yet he yearns for the ocean and is determined to leave his hometown for a college on the coast. But his best friend, Maria, wants nothing more than to make a home in the desert, and Jake’s mother encourages him to always play it safe.
There’s nothing “safe” about Jake’s future—not when he’s attracted to Kenny Liu, swim team captain and rebel against conformity. And certainly not when he secretly applies to Miami University. Jake’s life begins to outpace his small town’s namesake, which doesn’t make it any easier to come out to his mom, or Maria, or the world.
But Jake is full of secrets, including the strange blue markings on his skin that glow when in contact with water. What power will he find when he searches for his identity, and will he turn his back to the current or dive headfirst into the waves?