Bout of Books 13 master post


Day 1 (Monday, May 11)

Books read:


Foreign Affairs by Alison Lurie

– only counts as half a book as I had been about halfway before this week began.


Adventure Time Vol 4 

Also another one I had started before this week although I’m not sure how I managed to stop reading this the day before. Usually I just read my way through the whole thing as I can’t stop when it comes to Adventure Time. I must have been sleepy!

Next up:

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (Fairyland #1) – Catherynne M. Valente


Yesterday was a tough day, as Mondays tend to be, with my two-year-old thinking that nap time consisted of a 30 minute nap and a lot of fussing and crying. Not sure what happened there, as he is usually quite good at napping and sleeping. What that meant was not as much time for reading in the afternoon, unless you count picture books. I gave up in the evening, let them play with the train set and had a splash of Pinot Noir and finished Adventure Time! We did put the kids to bed early, although I had some writing to finish up, which meant not that much reading went on. However, I surprised myself by finishing Foreign Affairs! Thoughts on that to come.


Day 2 (Tuesday, May 12)

I decided to concentrate on just one book today. Good thing The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente has been a pretty fun read so far. I’ve apparently read 115 e-pages of the book. It was a not great day otherwise but hey I managed to do some reading! Hurrah!

Day 3 and 4 (Wednesday, May 13, and Thursday, May 14)






Oops completely forgot about updating! But I have good news on the books-read front – I finished some books! Woohoo! So despite my not-so-good day (the kind where I felt completely overwhelmed and just so sick and tired of everything), I finished The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente. And also read Volume 1 of The Woods, a comic series by James Tynion IV and Michael Dialynas. I also started on Jeff Lemire’s Underwater Welder, which I’m loving – and trying not to rush through so that I get the full experience.


Bout of Books 13 Challenge 1: A bookish survey


Today’s challenge is a survey from Writing My Own Fairy Tale

1. How do you organize your shelves?

Well I don’t! My books on my shelves aren’t exactly organized at all, unless you count the height factor – taller books on one shelf, shorter books on another.

I do have one shelf that is for books that I have yet to read though!

2. What is one of your favorite book that’s not in one of your favorite genres?

That’s a tough one! I tend to read across a variety of genres so I have a lot of ‘favourite genres’. So I’m going to pick a favourite book that is of a genre that I don’t really read much of – non-fiction. I do enjoy non-fiction but I don’t take enough time to read it! And that would have to be 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff, a book I reread every once in a while!

3. What is the last 5 star book you read?


Love and Capes – Thomas F. Zahler


H is for Hawk – Helen MacDonald

(Ok so that’s not one but those were such different wonderful reads!)

4. What book are you most excited to read during the read-a-thon?

Underwater Welder – Jeff Lemire
5. What book do you recommend the most?


There isn’t one book that I recommend the most, but the last book I recommended was Lucy Knisley’s Relish.

Bout of Books 13 here I come!

Woah! It’s Bout of Books 13! I completely forgot to sign up for it earlier, so here I am, on Sunday night, typing out my sign-up post.

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 11th and runs through Sunday, May 17th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 13 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. – From the Bout of Books team

My goals are: 
– to read for at least an hour a day
– to read instead of picking up the phone to check emails or Facebook or Instagram!
– to complete at least two books

My books:

Foreign Affairs – Alison Lurie (currently reading. I’m about halfway through)

Soy Sauce for Beginners – Kirstin Chen

Underwater Welder – Jeff Lemire

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (Fairyland #1) – Catherynne M. Valente

Are you joining Bout of Books? It’s not too late!



It’s Monday and Bout of Books Wrap-up!

itsmonday“It’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.



Good morning! It’s 645 while I’m typing this, up in the bedroom while everyone is still fast asleep. The husband has gone off to work (he takes the Bart into the city, so it’s a bit of a commute) and I haven’t a clue what to do with everyone today. The park perhaps!

So Bout of Books 10 is over! Wow!

My goals for this readathon were:

– to read for at least an hour a day
– instead of picking up the phone to check emails (again) or peek at Facebook or Twitter, do some reading, whether it be an e-book or a real book
– to complete at least two books

And I am glad to say that I manage to fulfill all of them! Huzzah!

The second goal was especially hard. Every time I looked at Instagram or Twitter or email, I told myself, waitaminute, what are you doing??!?! And then switched to the Kindle app on the phone instead. It’s all too easy to get sucked into mindless surfing of strangers’ beautiful pictures and funny tweets. And time is especially precious when there are young kids (aged 3 and 1) in the house! So I gave it my best and after putting up my posts, or tweets or photos, I’d just try to jump back into reading.

And as a result I read these wonderful books:


Fangirl – Rainbow Rowell (fiction – the second half)

Behind the Beautiful Forevers – Katherine Boo (non-fiction – I was about 35% in when BoB started)

The Silence of our Friends (graphic novel)

Morning Glories Volume 5 (graphic novel)

The Care and Management of Lies – Jacqueline Winspear (fiction)


I’m not into counting pages of books or keeping proper track of the amount of time I spent reading. But I definitely read at least an hour each night before sleeping, and squeezed in more reading here and there during the day (like when I get up and have breakfast before the kids are up, plus during the very very precious afternoon naptime!). So I think I can safely say, Woohoo! on all three goals!

I hope you had a great time during Bout of Books too!


It’s Monday and I’m Reading:


Bitter in the Mouth – Monique Truong

Oh how I love this book. Why hadn’t I heard about this sooner?


Crane Wife – Patrick Ness


The Year she Left Us – Kathryn Ma



I just had breakfast – a few slices of buttered baguette and milky black tea.



A fragrant Jasmine Mandarin tea from Lupicia Tea. At least I will later!


I have a pompano/pomfret thawing in the fridge (it’s a type of fish). It will be steamed with ginger, pickled plum, a bit of soya sauce. We picked up lots of  veg from the farmers market yesterday – caixin (or choy sum), bok choy, some lovely asparagus, green beans, and some others I forget now. So there’s plenty to choose from. I might save the asparagus for a risotto another day. So it might be a bok choy and mushroom stirfry with the fish tonight.

I’m also considering making this copycat Hawaiian Roll recipe


I’ve just started Season two of Veronica Mars. I can’t remember what my reaction to all this was the first time I watched the show, but now I’m decidedly not liking Duncan.


Jem – Finally Woken


Last week I read:


The Care and Management of Lies – Jacqueline Winspear

For an upcoming book tour


Morning Glories Volume 5 – Nick Spencer et al

Huh, weirder and weirder. But then I’m already sunk into this, seeing that I’ve read five volumes so far!



What are you reading this week?


Bout of Books Day 6: Another two down!

BoB10-200x200Saturday was a day of doing things – we were out and about early for the Kids and Kites Festival in our nearby park. Then off to Sweet Tomatoes for a healthy (ish) lunch of salad and soups and er ice-cream. Home again for naptime. Then off to dinner – steak this time. Indulgent? Why yes indeed!

I did manage a bit of reading in between all that eating.


I couldn’t resist but dive right into Morning Glories Volume 5 and finished this slim book. I’m still confused.

caremanagementliesAnd hurrah, I finished another book. And this time it was one I started during Bout of Books itself!


Books read:

Fangirl (the second half)

The Silence of our Friends (graphic novel)

Behind the Beautiful Forevers (non-fiction – I was about 35% in when BoB started)

Morning Glories Volume 5 (graphic novel)

The Care and Management of Lies

Currently reading:

Bitter in the Mouth


Bout of Books Day 5 and a Library Loot



After a not-so-great reading Thursday, I pushed myself on Friday to read and read!


And as a result, I managed to finish reading…. Katherine Boo’s Behind the Beautiful Forevers! Hooray! I started it before Bout of Books began though I was only at at 30-odd% mark, so said the Overdrive app. Goodreads tells me the book is 262 pages long and while that doesn’t sound like much, it kind of is, because this is a tough read. And I mean that in a gutwrenching, heartbreaking kind of read. To know that these are the actual lives of people, of children, living or rather trying desperately to survive in the slums. The corruption, the poverty, the deaths, they are all not something that were made up. Sure, we see those statistics in the newspapers every day. We know that there are very many men, women and children who live in poverty, who can barely make ends meet. But to read of their stories, to know that Katherine Boo spent years with them, talking to them, interviewing them, observing them, and writing this important book to let the rest of us know what it is really, truly, like out there. This is a book about hope and desperation. It is neverending sadness, a daily struggle to put food on the table, to ensure that their most basic of necessities can be afforded, whether it be via corruption or stealing or trading garbage. It is hard to stomach.

Here’s my total so far:

Books read: Fangirl (the second half)

The Silence of our Friends (graphic novel)

Behind the Beautiful Forevers (non-fiction)

Currently reading:

Bitter in the Mouth

The Care and Management of Lies


badge-4Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Linda from Silly Little Mischief that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library.

Everyone got dragged out to the library today. My mother-in-law was even inspired to start reading again, so I lent her one of my books (Mrs Queen Takes the Train – a very cute book that would charm most readers). And while the grandparents entertained the kids (Wee Reader is very into checking out the computers in the kids section these days – he always says that he wants to “do work”), I popped upstairs to the non-fiction section and grabbed some graphic novels! Hooray!

Sailor Twain; or the mermaid in the Hudson – Mark Siegel
Are you my mother? a comic drama – Alison Bechdel
Level up – Gene Luen Yang; Thien Pham
Morning glories Vol 5: Tests – Nick Spencer, words ; Joe Eisma, art
Morning glories Vol 6: Demerits – Nick Spencer, words ; Joe Eisma, art

Kids’ loot:

What did you get from your library this week?

Bout of Books Day 4: another book completed (ok so it was a graphic novel)


It wasn’t the best day for reading.

A morning that begins with me downing some Tylenol is never a good day. And it’s worse when the migraine still breaks through. That’s extremely rare though so it was likely a combination of not sleeping very well (baby cried out at 330 and went back to sleep after. But I had to lie there and wait for the sleep waves to take me back into the ocean of dreams) and the heat.

And that lead to the discovery that migraines and e-books don’t mix. Even on the Kindle.

So throughout the day, in between getting kids up, the 3yo ready for preschool, chores and all kinds of other things in between, I read The Silence of Our Friends by Mark Long, Jim Demonakos, Nate Powell. It was a thought-provoking story about 1968 Houston, based on Long’s own childhood experiences of the civil rights protests.

And then I turned to Jacqueline Winspear’s The Care and Management of Lies, a standalone book, by the Maisie Dobbs series author, set just before the First World War. I wasn’t expecting to find so many delicious passages about food! It made me want to get cooking – and eating.

Unfortunately the baby wasn’t going to let me do much reading yesterday. He had a decent nap in the morning (after days of just dozing for 15 minutes) and that seemed to screw up his afternoon nap completely! After too many picking ups and putting downs, and just way too much crying, I gave up and took him out for a walk in the stroller. And he had a 20 minute nap while I attempted to read Bitter in the Mouth on my phone. I think that made the migraine worse. Not the book though, the book is just gorgeous. I keep finding passages to highlight and marvel at.

So despite a not-so-good day, I did ok in terms of reading.

Here’s my total so far:

Books read: Fangirl (the second half)

The Silence of our Friends (graphic novel)

Currently reading:

Behind the Beautiful Forevers (about 70% – was at about 35% on Monday)

Bitter in the Mouth (53 out of 282 pages)

The Care and Management of Lies (about halfway through)

Whee! I managed to finish this post just before 7. And now it’s time to get the kids up and the day going. How has your Bout of Books been going so far? 


Bout of Books Day 3

BoB10-200x200Day Three already?!

I didn’t manage to do very much reading today, unfortunately. Too much time went into doing all kinds of other things like getting dinner ready and holding the baby, who has gone very much into a phase where he’s all kinds of anxious when I’m out of his sight! Super clingy and super fussy baby make for not much reading for the day.

But my Overdrive app tells me that I am 68% into Behind the Beautiful Forevers, and I had been at about 35% as of yesterday morning! So maybe I read more than I thought I did! Alright that calls for some kind of celebrating! In other words, I’m going to turn off the computer and READ SOME MORE! I think a little fiction is called for, so it’s Bitter in the Mouth by Monique Truong for me.


Bout of Books Day 2 – Books I’m looking forward to reading


So last night I managed to finish reading Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl. Hooray! After settling the kids in bed (one at 745, the other at 8), I made sure to ignore my phone (no need to check my email yet again, or Instagram, or Facebook, or the news, or Feedly, or one of those many ridiculous things that I do every single day, every single hour perhaps? Oh it’ll just take me two seconds, check Twitter or something, and then next thing I know, an hour has passed. An hour of very precious child-free time, of which I have very little. Like right now, when I should be reading instead of writing this! (It’s the kids’ naptime).

Anyway, so I reckon I read about 200 odd pages last night, seeing that I was about slightly past the halfway mark in Fangirl.

And it’s Bout of Books Day 2! I haven’t managed much reading today. Just about 10 pages of Behind The Beautiful Forevers (so sad a read!) while I had breakfast. And about 10 iphone-kindle app pages of Bitter in the Mouth by Monique Truong, a rather fascinating book I must add, while waiting to pick up the 3yo from preschool (he only goes half a day).

River City Reading is hosting today’s challenge:
“create a list of titles you’re looking forward to reading. They can be upcoming titles in a specific season, titles that have been on your shelves, it’s up to you!”

I could easily get carried away with writing a list of books I’m dying to read, my GoodReads to-read list is 1378 and counting, but I’ll limit myself to things I’m likely to actually read in this coming month or so.


The Year She Left Us – Kathryn Ma

This is for an upcoming book tour, but I was really excited when it landed on my doorstep today. What a cover!

From the winner of the 2009 Iowa Short Fiction Prize—comes the extraordinary, unexpected debut tale of three generations of Chinese-American women in a San Francisco family who must confront their past and carve out a future.

The Kong women are in crisis. A disastrous trip to visit her “home” orphanage in China has plunged eighteen-year-old Ari into a self-destructive spiral. Her adoptive mother, Charlie, a lawyer with a great heart, is desperate to keep her daughter safe. Meanwhile, Charlie must endure the prickly scrutiny of her beautiful, Bryn Mawr educated mother, Gran—who, as the daughter of a cultured Chinese doctor, came to America to survive Mao’s Revolution—and her sister, Les, a brilliant judge with a penchant to rule over everyone’s lives.

As they cope with Ari’s journey of discovery and its aftermath, the Kong women will come face to face with the truths of their lives—four powerful intertwining stories of accomplishment, tenacity, secrets, loneliness, and love. Beautifully illuminating the bonds of family and blood, The Year She Left Usexplores the promise and pain of adoption, the price of assimilation and achievement, the debt we owe to others, and what we owe ourselves.

The Crane Wife – Patrick Ness
A Monster Calls was one of my favourite books last year. So sad! I’m looking forward to reading anything else Ness writes really

The extraordinary happens every day…

One night, George Duncan – decent man, a good man – is woken by a noise in his garden. Impossibly, a great white crane has tumbled to earth, shot through its wing by an arrow. Unexpectedly moved, George helps the bird, and from the moment he watches it fly off, his life is transformed.

The next day, a kind but enigmatic woman walks into George’s shop. Suddenly a new world opens up for George, and one night she starts to tell him the most extraordinary story.

Wise, romantic, magical and funny, The Crane Wife is a hymn to the creative imagination and a celebration of the disruptive and redemptive power of love.

The Secret Life of A.J. Fikry – Gabrielle Zevin
Plenty of book bloggers have read this and loved it. And I’m in the library holds queue, for what seems like ages.


Morning Glories volumes 5 and 6 -Nick Spencer et al

I’ve been enjoying this series set in a prep school. A very weird prep school where all kinds of things happen and to tell the truth I haven’t a clue what’s going on. So I’m hoping that the next two volumes will provide some answers, any answers would be great thanks.


It’s Monday and Bout of Books update

itsmonday“It’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.



It’s nearly 2pm on Monday, the baby is napping (hooray! you don’t know how hard that has been the past few days!), I just read Wee Reader two picture books including his recent favourites The Thingamabob by Il Sung Na (very cute story about an elephant finding an umbrella) and The Rollercoaster Kid by Mary Ann Rodman and Roger Roth (a sweet and sad story about a boy’s relationship with his grandparents) and hopefully he will nap in a bit. The grandparents are also napping!

So it’s quiet for now. Just me. And er, Veronica Mars (I’m half-watching while typing this).

(edited to add: of course just as I finish this, someone starts crying…)




So I wrote about my goals and pool of books yesterday, but forgot to mention the book I was already reading, Fangirl. I’m trying to finish it by today. I’m about 300-odd pages in! So that means I’ve read about 100 pages since this morning! So that’s not too bad for half a day here. I’ll have to put in more effort later when the kids are in bed!






Fangirl – Rainbow Rowell

silencefriendsThe silence of our friends – Mark Long & Jim Demonakos ; art by Nate Powell


Behind the Beautiful Forevers – Katherine Boo

It’s a bit harder to read this one as it’s an Overdrive book that I’m reading on my Nexus – in other words, kind of glaring and eye-straining. And it is a difficult read, the lives, the struggles just trying to get by. Sigh.


Had a mushroom and tomato omelette for lunch, with some lavash bread.


Just water for now. It’s a hot day for NorCal!


Tonight, Hainanese chicken rice, using a spice paste (just throw it into your rice cooker with the rice!). Steam some chicken. And stirfry some baby bok choy. An easy dinner.


I’m still rewatching Veronica Mars!

By the way, if you’re interesting in reading Ruth Reichl’s Delicious!, I’ve got one to give away here!

Last week…

I read:
Heads in beds: a reckless memoir of hotels, hustles, and so-called hospitality – Jacob Tomsky
A fun behind-the-scenes look at the hotel industry. Furniture polish on the drinking glasses? Key bombs? Fascinating.
Morning Glories Volumes 3 and 4 – Nick Spencer et al
This just gets more and more bizarre. Intriguingly so, but still, very bizarre.

I posted:

Fallout – Sadie Jones

Wednesday Links and a cup of tea

Bout of Books 10






What are you reading this week?