#AsianLitBingo – Turning Japanese by MariNaomi

My elder son is finishing kindergarten next month and I’ve been reflecting on this great year he’s had. Such a different one for us – a first year in a public school in the US. All I had known about American schools I learnt from TV and the movies! Of course my boy’s class is not your typical one as he attends a Mandarin immersion programme that starts with a 90-10 ratio (that is, Mandarin is the 90%) and gradually decreases by 10% each year until it’s 50-50.

Perhaps I should backtrack. Our main language at home is English. Growing up in Singapore, it was the same. My parents spoke to me and my sister in English. Our main language in school was English except in Chinese class everyday. My grandmothers didn’t speak much Mandarin and instead spoke the Chinese dialects of Hokkien or Teochew. My paternal grandfather did speak Mandarin whereas my maternal grandfather would sometimes speak to us in English. My mother never formally learnt Mandarin and instead learnt Malay in school.

It’s rather confusing isn’t it. I suppose sticking to English was probably the easiest for everyone. Mandarin/Chinese classes were a requirement in Singapore, all the way from primary school to junior college (high school). So while I have studied it for many years, not using it on a regular basis since starting university meant that I’m really rusty at Chinese.

But with my boy in Mandarin immersion Kindergarten, I’ve been forced to refresh my memory. Sometimes I even speak to his classmates’ mums in Mandarin!

This is my very convoluted way of explaining my interest in this graphic memoir.

Mari is “hafu” that is, biracial. Her mom is Japanese, but Mari was born and raised in America and doesn’t speak a word of Japanese. It seems like her mom didn’t want her to learn Japanese.  Mari meets someone who works at a Japanese bar in San Jose, a “home away from home for expat Japanese businessmen in bland Silicon Valley”, and it’s her “dream job” – paid to drink, sing and where smoking is allowed. Oh well, she’s 22.

She also reckons it’s a good opportunity to finally learn Japanese.

She and her boyfriend also take a long vacation in Japan where she finds work as a hostess in a bar.

I preferred when Mari talked about her family, like her relationship with her mother, who never taught her any Japanese at all. (And gave her some BS reason for doing so!)

And when she visits her grandparents and aunt in Japan.

I really enjoyed her illustration style and wished there could be more about her family. But it was still an interesting and fun graphic memoir read.

I’m using this book for “Graphic Novel with Asian MC” for #AsianLitBingo but it would also work for “multiracial/multiethnic Asian MC”

TLC Book Tours: A House Without Windows by Nadia Hashimi

“What a burden it is to be born a woman.”

What Zeba is:

  • a loving mother
  • a loyal wife
  • in prison

Her husband Kamal has been found murdered, with a hatchet, in their courtyard.

And Zeba – covered with blood.

She is sent to Chil Mahtab, the women’s prison in Kabul, while the judge tries to figure out what to do with her.

Her brother has hired her a young lawyer, Yusuf, a recent returnee from the US where he has lived for many years and where he went to law school. He’s a little naive but his colleague soon sets him straight about how things work in Afghanistan:

“the justice system, if you can even call it that, is as twisted as a mullah’s turban. There are ways to work with what we have, but it takes creativity and patience.”

Unfortunately he has a difficult task ahead of him as Zeba herself refuses to help in her own defense. Her refusal makes him wonder, what is she hiding? Whose secrets are she keeping?

It was especially interesting (and painful) to learn about Zeba’s fellow inmates.

“Because of their various improprieties, many had been convicted of the broad crime of zina, sex outside of marriage. Some were convicted of attempted zina or imprisoned for assisting another woman to commit zina.”

Sadly, for many of them, prison is a safer place than their own homes. Isn’t that just heart-breaking?

This book was a difficult read, a difficult topic but one that hopefully raises more awareness about women’s rights around the world.

tlc logo

I received this book for review from its publisher as part of a TLC Book Tour. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the stops on the tour. 

Pick up this book: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Connect with the author: WebsiteFacebook, and Twitter


I’m using this for “Central Asian MC” for #AsianLitBingo

It’s Monday and I’m reading Swimming Lessons


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


Last week….

I baked some salmon (the most moist baked salmon you can ever make!)

Ate some pork belly bao

Read library books with the 4yo

Borrowed more books for Asian Lit Bingo

The kids painted pots and potted flowers at Orchard Supply Hardware

We had an early Mother’s Day lunch (my m-i-l flew back to Sunday morning). Mediterranean food with a view of the waterfront. Also it had pizza.

And after the airport on Sunday, a wander around the Barnes and Noble.









Gilmore Girls season 5



Just had tempura for lunch!


A decaf nespresso


To make things easier for myself, a baked pasta of some sort. Probably with broccoli and bacon. Or maybe this one pot bacon broccoli mac and cheese from Budget Bytes

Fried noodles



Making coconut rice (nasi lemak) in the rice cooker (The Food Canon)

Celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month with 12 new titles (BookDragon)

I lived in Brighton, England for a year and am excited to read about all these books set there (Lit Hub)

10 salads you’ll actually want to eat (I am a food blog)


Last week:

I read:

I posted:

The Best We Could Do – Thi Bui


The Best We Could Do – Thi Bui

This beautiful and moving graphic memoir opens with the birth of Thi Bui’s child, in the first chapter, titled ‘Labor’.

And this book, this work of labour that Bui started in 2005 and was released in 2017, is perhaps even more relevant today, in this climate of walls and bans and constant discussion about immigration, both legal and illegal.

This is a refugee story. This is the story of how Bui’s family escaped from Vietnam to the US. This is also a story of family – how her parents met, got together, and started their family. And how now, as Bui begins a family of her own, she realizes: “The responsibility is immense. A wave of empathy for my mother washes over me.”


It is moving, it is filled with memories, it is a tribute to her parents, to her family, to their lives in Vietnam and their new home in America.



 I’m using this book for “Asian refugee MC” for #AsianLitBingo

It’s Monday & I’m loving Yoon Ha Lee’s Ninefox Gambit


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




Spring really made its presence felt last week. It was SO HOT we had to turn the AC on a couple of evenings to cool down the house. Luckily that went away and we are back to cool(ish) spring weather again. But it also was a great time for the garden. We got to pull up two radishes and plucked a few strawberries. Sadly my sunflower seeds didn’t seem to make it this year. Maybe it was too wet when I planted them. Or they just got eaten!! I’ll have to try again! But in the meantime I’ve added a zucchini plant, a chili plant and a Persian cucumber to our garden! 

Also last week I decided to join the #AsianLitBingo challenge and made up a too-ambitious list!


Our favourite dumpling place (with the best red bean pancake and a so-yummy bread with condensed milk) has closed down! We had to try a new-to-us handmade noodle place a few doors down but weren’t disappointed. Great noodle soups! Beef bao, potstickers and chive dumplings! 





Ninefox Gambit – Yoon Ha Lee



House Without Windows by Nadia Hashimi



More…Gilmore Girls!


Just had Chinese bakery hotdog bun for breakfast


PG Tips with milk 


Checking out all the #AsianLitBingo tbr lists!

Muslim-American kids need to see more of themselves in pop culture (Lit Hub)

Emma Donoghue writes about big families in fiction (The Guardian)

I always wondered what potted meat (from all those British children’s books) tasted like – and here’s a recipe, and it doesn’t sound too bad (The Guardian)

TV is rewriting the book on how to adapt novels (The Guardian)

Added to my TBR:

City of Strife by Claudie Arseneault (via Huntress of Diverse Books)

Last week:

I read:
A whole bunch of comics I had meant to read during Readathon but never made it!
Spider-Woman: Shifting Gears, Volume 2: Civil War II Dennis Hopeless (Writer), Javier Rodriguez (Penciler, Colourist), Veronica Fish (Artist), Tigh Walker (Artist),

Demon Vol 2 – Jason Shiga
Unicorn on a roll – Dana Simpson
Sex Criminals Vol 2: Two worlds, one cop – Matt Fraction, Chip Zdarsky

Space Dumplins – Craig Thompson

Locke and Key: Small World – Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodríguez

I posted:

Top classics covers done right

#AsianLitBingo TBR list

#AsianLitBingo TBR list

A group of Asian book bloggers have come together to host this awesome challenge for May (Asian American Heritage Month).

All the details can be found here 

Eligible Books:

  • Fiction books should have an Asian main character (can be one of several main characters) and be by an Asian author to qualify. It does not have to be #ownvoices, but reading #ownvoices books is strongly encouraged!
  • Nonfiction books should be by an Asian author with a focus on Asian people, whether it’s a[n] [auto]biography, history book, essay collection, etc. A nonfiction book can count for prompts other than the nonfiction square provided that it that focuses on a person/group that corresponds to that prompt (e.g. an autobiography of a Asian trans woman could count for either the nonfiction category or the LGBTQIAP+ Asian MC category).
  • The free space is for any book with an Asian main character by an Asian author.

I have to admit that some of the topics are quite tricky! I know that there is no way I can read books to fill ALL the squares but I still want to write up a TBR list, to push myself to think about books that I don’t immediately reach for. I hope to complete at least one line somewhere!

East Asian MC – Hotel Iris by Yoko Ozawa 

Asian Refugee MC – The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui 

Asian Immigrant MC – Mãn by Kim Thuy

Asian MC with a Disability – A time to dance by Padma Venkatraman

Multiracial/Multiethnic Asian MC – The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig

LGBTQIAP+ Asian MC – Funny Boy by Shyam Selvadurai

West Asian MC – House Without Windows by Nadia Hashimi

Asian Muslim AC – Does my head look big in this? by Randa Abdel-Fattah

Religious Asian MC – A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

Poor or Working Class Asian MC – Lotus by Lijia Zhang

SFF with Asian MC – Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee

Historical Fiction with Asian MC – Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

Retelling with Asian MC – Goddess Chronicle by Natsuo Kirino

Contemporary with Asian MC – The Love Wife by Gish Jen

Graphic Novel with Asian MC – Turning Japanese by MariNaomi (does it count? It’s a graphic memoir)

Queer Romance with Asian MC – If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan

Romance w/ POC/Indigenous Love Interest – The Bollywood Bride by Sonali Dev

Central Asian MC ? (Because my library doesn’t seem to have any)

Translated Work by an Asian Author  – Malice by Keigo Higashino

Southeast Asian MC – Pioneer Girl by Bich Minh Nguyen

Asian Superhero MC – Ms Marvel Vol 6 by G Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona  

Asian Transracial Adoptee MC – Lucky Girl by Mei-Ling Hopgood

Non-Fiction by an Asian Author – I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

South Asian MC – What Lies Between Us by Nayomi Munaweera

Top classics covers done right


Cover Theme Freebie: literally anyyyything about covers

I’m not very good with freebies to be honest! Anyway, after some consideration, I’ve decided to go with “classics done right” – that is, beautiful redesigned covers for classic lit. In other words, book covers I have been drooling over….

F Scott Fitzgerald collection by Penguin Classics

Virago Modern Classics Designer Collection

Penguin Clothbound Classics

Vintage Classics Woolf series

Puffin in Bloom – I own three out of four (except for the Anne of Green Gables – I’ve got the version below)


Puffin Classics

Penguin Drop Caps

Which ones have you been eyeing?