Library Loot (October 28 to November 3)

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 Library Loot day!

Last week I had forgotten to post about some comics I had borrowed. So here they are:

Heavy Vinyl Vol 1 and 2 by Carly Usdin

When Chris joins the staff at her local record store, she’s surprised to find out that her co-workers share a secret: they’re all members of a secret fight club that take on the patriarchy and fight crime!

Starry-eyed Chris has just started the dream job every outcast kid in town wants: working at Vinyl Mayhem. It’s as rad as she imagined; her boss is BOSS, her co-workers spend their time arguing over music, pushing against the patriarchy, and endlessly trying to form a band. When Rosie Riot, the staff’s favorite singer, mysteriously vanishes the night before her band’s show, Chris discovers her co-workers are doing more than just sorting vinyl . . . Her local indie record store is also a front for a teen girl vigilante fight club! 

It feels like ages since I’ve read Lumberjanes and was so happy to jump back in!

Lumberjanes Volumes 11 to 13 

(This is the synopsis for vol 11)

Time is freezing at camp, and it’s up to Roanoke Cabin to stop the nefarious and mysterious forces behind it. 

When Molly makes a deal with a mysterious Voice in the woods surrounding Miss Qiunzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady Types to slow down time, she isn’t hoping for an endless summer! All she wants is more time to spend with her friends at camp, hiking and doing crafts, and playing music and having fun. What she doesn’t bargain for is time starting to skip, and freeze, and make campers’ ages jump forward and back… It’s up to Roanoke Cabin to to set time right again, and save camp! 

I haven’t had the chance to eat at his restaurants but I’ve watched his TV shows, and have some inkling of his background, so I’m curious to know more.

Eat A Peach by David Chang

In 2004, David Chang opened a noodle restaurant named Momofuku in Manhattan’s East Village, not expecting the business to survive its first year. In 2018, he was the owner and chef of his own restaurant empire, with 15 locations from New York to Australia, the star of his own hit Netflix show and podcast, was named one of the most influential people of the 21st century and had a following of over 1.2 million. In this inspiring, honest and heartfelt memoir, Chang shares the extraordinary story of his culinary coming-of-age.

Growing up in Virginia, the son of Korean immigrant parents, Chang struggled with feelings of abandonment, isolation and loneliness throughout his childhood. After failing to find a job after graduating, he convinced his father to loan him money to open a restaurant. Momofuku’s unpretentious air and great-tasting simple staples – ramen bowls and pork buns – earned it rave reviews, culinary awards and before long, Chang had a cult following.

Momofuku’s popularity continued to grow with Chang opening new locations across the U.S. and beyond. In 2009, his Ko restaurant received two Michelin stars and Chang went on to open Milk Bar, Momofuku’s bakery. By 2012, he had become a restaurant mogul with the opening of the Momofuku building in Toronto, encompassing three restaurants and a bar.

Chang’s love of food and cooking remained a constant in his life, despite the adversities he had to overcome. Over the course of his career, the chef struggled with suicidal thoughts, depression and anxiety. He shied away from praise and begged not to be given awards. In Eat a Peach, Chang opens up about his feelings of paranoia, self-confidence and pulls back the curtain on his struggles, failures and learned lessons. Deeply personal, honest and humble, Chang’s story is one of passion and tenacity, against the odds.

What did you get from your library this week?

The Girl and the Ghost by Hanna Alkaf

This was the book I didn’t know I needed last night. I’m not from Malaysia but there are enough similarities between Malaysia and its neighbor Singapore for me to feel at home when I was reading this. I couldn’t sleep last night and while a ghost story wasn’t exactly what I was looking for at that moment, the library ebook was due in a couple of days. So The Girl and the Ghost it would be then

The ghost is a pelesit, a dark spirit who takes the form of a grasshopper to stay hidden. His master, a witch, dies and he has to find a new master. The witch had told him a pelesit needs a master to control his craving for destruction and chaos. As he is bound by blood, the new master has to be of the same blood. And so it is to be Suraya. Suraya is a lonely child, her father is dead and her mother withdrawn.

“Maybe that was what she was. The durian of friends. Maybe people would learn to like her one day. Maybe she just had to meet the right ones.”

So quickly she and Pink become inseparable. But Pink’s dedication to her has a dark side as he lashes out relentlessly at those who bully her, then takes an even darker turn when she makes her first real friend.

It was a dark and endearing read, full of the sights and sounds and smells of Malaysia. It was a beautiful and emotional tale of friendship and family. It made me long for home and made me tear up as I thought of my family and wished I could be there for them, especially this week, with the passing of my grandmother

Library Loot (October 21 to 27)

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 libra

Happy Library Loot day!

Claire has the link-up this week

With the exception of the first book, my library haul this week continues with the Readers Imbibing in Peril theme of horror, thriller, mystery, dark fantasy.

Almost American Girl – Robin Ha

A teen graphic novel memoir about a Korean-born, non-English-speaking girl who is abruptly transplanted from Seoul to Huntsville, Alabama, and struggles with extreme culture shock and isolation, until she discovers her passion for comic arts.

For as long as she can remember, it’s been Robin and her mom against the world. Growing up in the 1990s as the only child of a single mother in Seoul, Korea, wasn’t always easy, but it has bonded them fiercely together.

So when a vacation to visit friends in Huntsville, Alabama, unexpectedly becomes a permanent relocation—following her mother’s announcement that she’s getting married—Robin is devastated. Overnight, her life changes. She is dropped into a new school where she doesn’t understand the language and struggles to keep up. She is completely cut off from her friends at home and has no access to her beloved comics. At home, she doesn’t fit in with her new stepfamily. And worst of all, she is furious with the one person she is closest to—her mother.

Then one day Robin’s mother enrolls her in a local comic drawing class, which opens the window to a future Robin could never have imagined.

Frankenstein in Baghdad – Ahmed Saadawi

From the rubble-strewn streets of U.S.-occupied Baghdad, Hadi–a scavenger and an oddball fixture at a local café–collects human body parts and stitches them together to create a corpse. His goal, he claims, is for the government to recognize the parts as people and to give them proper burial. But when the corpse goes missing, a wave of eerie murders sweeps the city, and reports stream in of a horrendous-looking criminal who, though shot, cannot be killed. Hadi soon realizes he’s created a monster, one that needs human flesh to survive–first from the guilty, and then from anyone in its path. A prizewinning novel by “Baghdad’s new literary star” (The New York Times), Frankenstein in Baghdad captures with white-knuckle horror and black humor the surreal reality of contemporary Iraq.

Ok I have no idea why this book has been on my tbr for a long time now, and also, why did I actually press the “borrow” button??? Ring was the first – and last – Japanese horror movie I ever watched in the cinema. It was terrifying! Admittedly, I am not quite a chicken when it comes to horror movies (ie I don’t really like watching them), but I was young and foolish and I guess everyone was talking about the movie and I just HAD to know, and so I went to watch it. And it was the most horrifying thing I have ever seen. I never read the books but for some reason I am going to read this one!

S (Ring #5) – Koji Suzuki (translated from the Japanese)

Twenty-one years after the legendary bestseller Ring, which spawned blockbuster films on both sides of the Pacific, and thirteen years after Birthday, the seeming last word on iconic villain Sadako and her containment, internationally acclaimed master of horror and Shirley Jackson Award-winner Koji Suzuki makes his much awaited returned to the famed trilogy’s mind-blowing story world with a new novel, S.

Takanori Ando, son of Spiral protagonist Mitsuo, works at a small CGI production company and hopes to become a filmmaker one day despite coming from a family of doctors, When he’s tasked by his boss to examine a putatively live-streamed video of a suicide that’s been floating around the internet, the aspiring director takes on more than he bargained for. His lover Akane, an orphan who grew up at a foster-care facility and is now a rookie high-school teacher, ends up watching the clip. She is pregnant, and she is…triggered.

Sinking hooks into our unconscious from its very first pages with its creepy imagery, and rewarding curious fans of the series with clever self-references, here is a fitting sequel to a tale renowned for its ongoing mutations.

The Boy in the Suitcase (Nina Borg #1) – Lene Kaaberbol and Agnete Friis (translated from the Danish)

Nina Borg, a Red Cross nurse, wife, and mother of two, is a compulsive do-gooder who can’t say no when someone asks for help—even when she knows better. When her estranged friend Karin leaves her a key to a public locker in the Copenhagen train station, Nina gets suckered into her most dangerous project yet. Inside the locker is a suitcase, and inside the suitcase is a three-year-old boy: naked and drugged, but alive.

Is the boy a victim of child trafficking? Can he be turned over to authorities, or will they only return him to whoever sold him? When Karin is discovered brutally murdered, Nina realizes that her life and the boy’s are in jeopardy, too. In an increasingly desperate trek across Denmark, Nina tries to figure out who the boy is, where he belongs, and who exactly is trying to hunt him down.

What did you get from your library this week?

Library Loot (October 14 to 20)

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 Library Loot Day!

Don’t forget to link-up or comment below.

Ikenga – Nnedi Okorafor

Nnedi Okorafor’s first novel for middle grade readers introduces a boy who can access super powers with the help of the magical Ikenga.

Nnamdi’s father was a good chief of police, perhaps the best Kalaria had ever had. He was determined to root out the criminals that had invaded the town. But then he was murdered, and most people believed the Chief of Chiefs, most powerful of the criminals, was responsible. Nnamdi has vowed to avenge his father, but he wonders what a twelve-year-old boy can do. Until a mysterious nighttime meeting, the gift of a magical object that enables super powers, and a charge to use those powers for good changes his life forever. How can he fulfill his mission? How will he learn to control his newfound powers?

Award-winning Nnedi Okorafor, acclaimed for her Akata novels, introduces a new and engaging hero in her first novel for middle grade readers set against a richly textured background of contemporary Nigeria.

So this has been on my TBR list for a while, but nothing I was dying to read. I was recently looking for an audiobook, and while listening to the sample, I really liked listening to the narrator. I guess you could say that her voice was what made me decide to actually download it. Have you downloaded an audiobook just because you liked the narrator’s voice?

Circe – Madeline Miller

In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child—not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power—the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.

Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus.

But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.

A reading challenge made me do it! I think this was for a task that’s outside my usual genres or something like that. And I listened to the audiobook sample for a bit and I really liked it. Her voice is soothing and her knowledge is vast and the narrative style is great. Really enjoying this one.

Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teaching of Plants – Robin Wall Kimmerer

As a botanist, Robin Wall Kimmerer has been trained to ask questions of nature with the tools of science. As a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, she embraces the notion that plants and animals are our oldest teachers. In Braiding Sweetgrass, Kimmerer brings these lenses of knowledge together to show that the awakening of a wider ecological consciousness requires the acknowledgment and celebration of our reciprocal relationship with the rest of the living world. For only when we can hear the languages of other beings are we capable of understanding the generosity of the earth, and learning to give our own gifts in return.

What did you get from your library this week?

Dim Sum of All Fears

This is the second book in the series, the first was Death by Dumpling. And Lana Lee is back but this time she is (gasp!) put in charge of the restaurant while her parents visit her grandmother in Taiwan. She’s not exactly thrilled about that. But worse news are to come – her friend Isabelle, who works at the new business next door, and her husband are found dead.

An enjoyable read with some interesting twists that I wasn’t expecting! The different characters that are involved in the series (set in a strip mall full of Asian-owned businesses in Ohio) are what make this series for me. I did however find the romance part a bit awkward, maybe it will be discussed more in the next book?

A fun cozy mystery that will make you want to eat some dim sum and drink tea

Library Loot (October 7 to 13)

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 Library Loot Day!

Claire has the link-up this week.

The Girl and the Ghost – Hanna Alkaf

I am a dark spirit, the ghost announced grandly. I am your inheritance, your grandmother’s legacy. I am yours to command.

Suraya is delighted when her witch grandmother gifts her a pelesit. She names her ghostly companion Pink, and the two quickly become inseparable.

But Suraya doesn’t know that pelesits have a dark side—and when Pink’s shadows threaten to consume them both, they must find enough light to survive . . . before they are both lost to the darkness.

Fans of Holly Black’s Doll Bones and Tahereh Mafi’s Furthermore series will love this ghostly middle grade debut that explores jealousy, love, and the extraordinary power of friendship.

What did you get from your library this week?

Library Loot (September 30 to October 6)

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 Library Loot Day! What did you get from your library recently? Link up your post or let me know in the comments!

I’ve heard of this a while back but not sure why I didn’t pick it up earlier. Another RIP-related read!

Strange Practice (Dr Greta Helloing #1) – Vivian Shaw

Greta Helsing inherited the family’s highly specialized, and highly peculiar, medical practice. In her consulting rooms, Dr. Helsing treats the undead for a host of ills – vocal strain in banshees, arthritis in barrow-wights, and entropy in mummies. Although barely making ends meet, this is just the quiet, supernatural-adjacent life Greta’s been groomed for since childhood.

Until a sect of murderous monks emerges, killing human and undead Londoners alike. As terror takes hold of the city, Greta must use her unusual skills to stop the cult if she hopes to save her practice, and her life.

They had me at Labyrinth. Also, I found this book on this Tor.com list on books that centre mental health. 

Wintersong – S. Jae Jones

Dark, romantic, and unforgettable, Wintersong is an enchanting coming-of-age story for fans of Labyrinth and The Cruel Prince.

The last night of the year. Now the days of winter begin and the Goblin King rides abroad, searching for his bride…

All her life, Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, dangerous Goblin King. They’ve enraptured her mind, her spirit, and inspired her musical compositions. Now eighteen and helping to run her family’s inn, Liesl can’t help but feel that her musical dreams and childhood fantasies are slipping away.

But when her own sister is taken by the Goblin King, Liesl has no choice but to journey to the Underground to save her. Drawn to the strange, captivating world she finds—and the mysterious man who rules it—she soon faces an impossible decision. And with time and the old laws working against her, Liesl must discover who she truly is before her fate is sealed.

Rich with music and magic, S. Jae-Jones’s Wintersong will sweep you away into a world you won’t soon forget.

Oh hey, a non-RIP book for a change! I wanted to read this after seeing that awesome cover.

We Are Not Free – Traci Chee

From New York Times best-selling and acclaimed author Traci Chee comes We Are Not Free, the collective account of a tight-knit group of young Nisei, second-generation Japanese American citizens, whose lives are irrevocably changed by the mass U.S. incarcerations of World War II.
 
Fourteen teens who have grown up together in Japantown, San Francisco.
 
Fourteen teens who form a community and a family, as interconnected as they are conflicted.
 
Fourteen teens whose lives are turned upside down when over 100,000 people of Japanese ancestry are removed from their homes and forced into desolate incarceration camps.
 
In a world that seems determined to hate them, these young Nisei must rally together as racism and injustice threaten to pull them apart.

What did you get from your library this week?

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.

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?