It’s Monday (March 21, 2022)

Some things last week:

Made flaky pastry for the first time – it’s not as rich and buttery as puff pastry and slightly easier to make I think? This topped a chicken pot pie for Pi Day last week.

Went with the kids and friends to a BTS cup sleeve event at a local boba store. Order a drink and you get these cute freebies for two of the members’ (JHope and Suga, or as they’re sometimes called Sope) birthdays. And the whole place is decorated with lots of photos with the members. Then a short walk to a Japanese store/restaurant for lunch, where I had chirashi bowl.

Currently…

Reading:

Donut Fall in Love – Jackie Lau

Watching:

With the kids, I watched Is It Cake? on Netflix, where yes, bakers make cakes that don’t look like cakes. First episode – fast food!

Listening:

The Final Revival of Opal & Nev

Eating and Drinking:

With some leftover flaky pastry I made for Pi Day, I made garlicky cheese palmiers. A delicious snack.

Cooking:

Maybe some Hong Kong-style baked rice.

I have some sweet potatoes to use up and was considering making a sweet potato pie, something I’ve never had – or eaten – before. But I presume it’s kinda like pumpkin pie? Well, I’ll have to find out what’s a good recipe.

Last week:

I read:

Grass and The Waiting by Keum Suk Gentry-Kim. I hope to post about it later this week as they’re incredible (also incredibly sad) graphic novels about South Korea.

I posted:

Ghost Forest by Pik-Shuen Fung

Library Loot (March 16 to 22)

badge
 
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

Ghost Forest by Pik-Shuen Fung

Good things come in small packages. Like dim sum. Siu Mai and Har Gow are perfect one or two bite dumplings, any bigger and they just seem a bit too much. 

And in Ghost Forest, the scenes and vignettes, are sometimes just one or two pages. Sometimes not even reaching one page. But they convey so much. 

This is the story of a family that moves from Hong Kong to Canada before the 1997 Handover. The dad remains in Hong Kong to work. He’s known as an “astronaut father”, visiting his family for Lunar New Year. 

A Chinese painting by my grandfather

The story opens with 21 days after the father’s death, and the daughter watches a bird perched on her balcony. She says, “Hi Dad”. That made me think of that huge moth that stayed in our house for a few days after my grandfather’s funeral. Some Chinese people believe that moths are the spirits of your dead loved ones visiting you. And maybe that’s just superstition or us clinging to any little symbol that brings us meaning, but somehow that brought some comfort. 

At 272 pages, this is a short and simply written book, but it’s best if you take your time with it. I tend to be a fast reader, so when reading a book like this, I’m forced to slow down, to take a pause between these segments and reflect on them. 

Ghost Forest is a quiet and soft read but it managed to wring out all these emotions from me via its spare prose and blank space. 

Library Loot (March 16 to 22)

badge-4

Library 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 I got from the library this week:

A Lab of One’s Own: One Woman’s Personal Journey Through Sexism in Science – Rita Colwell (audiobook)

I happened to find this while browsing the audiobook library catalogue. Colwell is the first female director of the National Science Foundation and an environmental microbiologist.

The Orphanage – Serhiy Zhadan, translated from the Ukrainian by Reilly Costigan-Humes and Isaac Stackhouse Wheeler 

This book was first published in 2017, but it sounds very much like what’s happening today. A teacher sets out for an orphanage to find his nephew. The orphanage is in occupied territory and it’s a dangerous journey through combat zones.

The Old Woman with the Knife – Gu Byeong-mo

A story about a 65yo female assassin! I think we need more books with female main characters who are 50+.

Everyone Knows Your Mother is a Witch – Rivka Galchen

I haven’t exactly had the best track record reading Galchen’s books. But this one sounds interesting? I think? It’s set in 1618, and the plague is beginning to spread. A woman is accused of making someone ill with a drink. It’s based on real historical documents too.

It’s Monday (March 14, 2022)

Hello Monday!

Some things last week:

BTS had their first concert in South Korea in about 2.5 years. The first and third days were broadcast live online and the second was screened in cinemas around the world. So on Thursday, I woke up at 145am to catch the 2am concert and on Sunday, the 1am concert. They’re incredible entertainers and the quality of the video and audio is amazing, perhaps even better than their last online concerts! I got the two-day multi-view pass. Most of the time I watched in single view but there are some songs that they do where they’re roaming around the stage more so I watched that in multi-view.

Of course we had to have Korean food over the weekend. Above is kimchi fried rice with spam. We also had bibimbap and kimbap as well as chicken wings.

Currently…

Reading:

Bluebeard’s First Wife by Ha Seong-nan

Watching:

Well, I watched the BTS concert over the weekend.

Listening:

I just downloaded the audiobook of The Final Revival of Opal and Nev

Eating and Drinking:

Had a slice of sourdough toast with butter, and my usual Yorkshire Gold

Last week:

I read:

Almond – Song Won-pyung

A Stitch in Time – Kelley Armstrong

Bourdain – Laurie Woolever

I posted:

Almond by Sohn Won-pyung

Library Loot (March 9 to 15)

The Shimmering State – Meredith Westgate

badge
 
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

Almond by Sohn Won-pyung

I woke up super early Thursday morning to catch the BTS Seoul concert livestream at 2am PST and it was so worth it. I couldn’t really sleep after it ended at 445am. Yes, I really am a big fan of the group! Because it’s the second book I read that is linked to BTS’ series In The Soop and it’s the second one that I’ve been disappointed by (the first was Midnight Library by Matt Haig. I really did not like that book.). But BTS, especially Namjoon aka RM, have previously mentioned several other books that are good reads, like Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982, and Kitchen

“This story is, in short, about a monster meeting another monster. One of the monsters is me.”

Ah, I probably had too high expectations of this one as it sounded a bit quirky, since it’s about a boy who doesn’t feel emotions. He has a disorder called alexithymia because of underdeveloped amygdalae, two almond-shaped neurons in the brain. 

Also, his mother runs a secondhand bookstore and uh yeah, that’s definitely a draw for many readers. I love a book that’s set in bookstores or libraries! 

But while I enjoyed the first part of the book, the ending seemed too…easy. Also, the main character just never quite drew me into his story. 

Overall, it was an interesting read but I just wanted more. More depth into the friendship between the boy who can’t feel and the boy who feels too much.

Library Loot (March 9 to 15)

badge-4

Library 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! Claire has the link-up this week.

What I got from the library this week:

I got some physical books this week!

Grass – Keum Suk Gendry-Kim, translated from the Korean by Janet Hong

This is a graphic novel about a Korean girl forced into sexual slavery during WWII.

The Waiting – Keum Suk Gendry-Kim, translated from the Korean by Janet Hong

This is the follow-up to Grass

Bluebeard’s First Wife – Ha Seong-nan

A collection of short stories by a Korean writer.

The Turning Pointe – Vanessa L Torres

I adore books about ballet and this one looks fun.

Dept H Omnibus vol 1 – Matt Kindt

An undersea sci-fi mystery comic!

The Final Revival of Opal & New – Dawnie Walton

At first I thought this was a 2022 release but it turns out that it was published last year. I haven’t heard much about this but I love stories about musicians.

Kids’ Loot:

The Shimmering State – Meredith Westgate

I constantly thought of the movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind as I read this book. But instead of a procedure to remove your specific memories, there is a drug that stores these memories. This drug, Memoroxin or Mem, is one that holds not just the memories but all your feelings and emotions that you had about those moments. 

It’s initially used as a treatment for Alzheimer’s, to allow patients to relive some of their memories. But it soon becomes a party drug, a different way to get high, an escape perhaps into the life of someone else for a few hours, drifting through their emotions. 

The story opens at a rehab center for those who hooked on Mem. There’s Lucien, a photographer who stole his grandmother’s pills to try and find his deceased mother in her memories. Sophie is a ballerina and waitress who is also hooked on Mem. The narrative flits between their time at the center and their past. 

This book makes me wonder what it would be like to dive into someone else’s memories. Would it feel like a dream? What memories would I want to see? And what would your life be without your memories? 

It’s Monday (March 7, 2022)

Hey, look, it’s Monday again!

Some things last week:

Went out to Pacific Catch for lunch. We haven’t taken the kids out for lunch for a while. I had a grilled sea bass bowl.

Near the lunch spot was a local chocolate store. So we decided to pick up a dark chocolate box to try. Delightful!

Currently…

Reading:

Bitter – Akwaeke Emezi

A Stitch in Time – Kelley Armstrong

Watching:

Love is Blind Japan. Ok the Japanese edition of this show is such a better watch than the US version, which sometimes felt a bit too over the top. I enjoyed how it moved more slowly and we get also much more of the interactions in the pods.

Listening:

Bourdain – edited by Laurie Woolever

Making:

Among Us crewmates for the kids. Made using Bernat Blanket yarn.

Eating and Drinking:

I had a croissant from Paris Baguette for breakfast.

Cooking:

Korean noodles

Last week:

I read:

Almond – Sohn Won-pyung
Ghost Forest – Fung Pik-Shuen

I posted:

Read in February 2022

Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan

The Return by Hisham Matar

A Nearly Normal Family by M.T. Edvardsson

Library Loot (March 2 to 8)

badge
 
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

Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan

Pictured: a tea set from Singapore which has lovely details of flowers, peaches, and phoenixes, next to Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan

This book brought me back to my childhood in Singapore and Sundays at my grandparents’ house where we would watch Chinese-language shows on TV. There were Singapore-made dramas and also those from China and (maybe?) Taiwan. I remember watched 西游记 (Journey to the West) and a show about 呢咋 (Nezha, a child deity). The gods lived in the sky, and they traveled around on clouds. 

So when Daughter of the Moon Goddess opened with a chase through the skies on clouds, I was absolutely delighted. 

Xingyin is the daughter of Chang’e, the Moon Goddess. She’s been hidden from the Celestial Kingdom her whole life. But she now has to leave her home on the moon and ends up in the Celestial Kingdom. She’s determined to free her mother and along the way becomes the companion to the Crown Prince. 

This book was just magical to read. It was packed full, and made me wonder, how can it be a duology? Luckily there’s no cliffhanger at the end so I was a happy reader (and not an anxious why won’t they give me an ending? reader). 

The world building was fabulous and I always appreciate when writers include food and drink into a story, as it helps to complete a reader’s journey into a fantasy story. It was lush and immersive. 

There is a romance in this story but I didn’t feel very invested in it. I was surprised by a plot twist and do hope that the second book explores more about one of the characters involved! 

I really enjoyed Daughter of the Moon Goddess. It was an exciting journey through a fantasy world yet one that was familiar. And with one of the most beautiful covers ever. 

Read in February 2022

Getting His Game Back – Gia De Cadenet

The Echo Wife – Sarah Gailey

A Nearly Normal Family – M.T. Edvardsson

Exit Strategy (Murderbot Diaries #4) – Martha Wells

Sunny Song Will Never Be Famous – Suzanne Park

Daughter of the Moon Goddess – Sue Lynn Tan

Love in the Big City – Park Sang Young

The Guncle – Steven Rowley

People From My Neighborhood – Hiromi Kawakami

Fiona and Jane – Jean Chen Ho

(oops I thought that I had read If Cats Disappeared in February, but I had read it in January after all!)

The Red Threads of Fortune – Neon Yang