A blueberry pie that almost didn’t make it #WeekendCooking

31883101-5300-422E-A30B-1E4825F33C53

I’m not sure why I was determined to make a pie for Pi Day. We never did anything for Pi Day before, although they do talk about it in school. For whatever reason, I had it in my head that I would make a blueberry pie.

In Singapore, there was a little local bakery that my mom would take us. I have no idea its name, but it was near the library, or at least that’s how it is in my memory. And they had blueberry pie. Which is unusual, as it’s not exactly a dessert that was common in Singapore at that time. I’m sure blueberries were really expensive then – and they still might be? Singapore imports a lot of fruits and vegetables as there’s little space for farming.

But somehow I remember that pie.

And I wanted to make one.

I found this recipe on Food52 by Rose Levy Bernabaum. I am a fan of Bernabaum’s Bread Bible, and have loved everything I’ve made in that book, especially the scones, which are my go-to scone recipe. I always double that recipe so I have extra to store in the freezer.

The one thing I wasn’t so sure was the measurements. The recipe used cups which personally I detest. I feel like baking recipes should always provide weights which are far more accurate than cups. And usually, I would stay far away from a cups-only recipe. But this one sounded really good. The filling isn’t baked, just 1/4 of the berries are cooked, then the rest are mixed together with the syrupy cooked ones.

Well, unfortunately, somehow I got myself tripped up on the measurements and ended up using twice the amount of butter! I only realised it the next day when I put it into the oven to bake and the pastry started melting! Sigh…

I scraped it into the compost bin after it cooled and started over. But I didn’t have the time to work on the same dough so I just quickly went with this one by Smitten Kitchen. I let it rest for a while in the fridge, not as long as I wanted to, and then rolled it out and baked it. The dough shrank in some parts. Sadness.

It may be because of my glass pie dish. I have since ordered a metal dish so I’m hoping that will see some improvement?

The blueberries though were simple and delicious. A quarter of them are cooked in water, then some cornstarch solution and sugar are added. Then it’s mixed with the rest of the blueberries. Once the pie crust has cooled a few minutes, just pour in the blueberries. They need to set for at least two hours. I loved how the blueberries were mostly intact and they were juicy and plump. Although my dough didn’t look great, it was still tasty.

My 7yo, who’s probably my harshest critic who refused to eat the mixed berry muffins we made last week, declared it delicious and ate it again for breakfast the next day.

Weekend Cooking was started by Beth Fish Reads and is now hosted by The Intrepid Reader and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, beer, wine, photographs

Library Loot (March 17 to 23)

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! Let us know what you borrowed from your library this week!

Red, White & Royal Blue – Casey McQuiston

First Son Alex Claremont-Diaz is the closest thing to a prince this side of the Atlantic. With his intrepid sister and the Veep’s genius granddaughter, they’re the White House Trio, a beautiful millennial marketing strategy for his mother, President Ellen Claremont. International socialite duties do have downsides—namely, when photos of a confrontation with his longtime nemesis Prince Henry at a royal wedding leak to the tabloids and threaten American/British relations. The plan for damage control: staging a fake friendship between the First Son and the Prince.

As President Claremont kicks off her reelection bid, Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret relationship with Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations. What is worth the sacrifice? How do you do all the good you can do? And, most importantly, how will history remember you?

 

This is thanks to Jenny’s post on books about fake dating

To Have and to Hoax – Martha Waters 

Five years ago, Lady Violet Grey and Lord James Audley met, fell in love, and got married. Four years ago, they had a fight to end all fights, and have barely spoken since.

Their once-passionate love match has been reduced to one of cold, detached politeness. But when Violet receives a letter that James has been thrown from his horse and rendered unconscious at their country estate, she races to be by his side—only to discover him alive and well at a tavern, and completely unaware of her concern. She’s outraged. He’s confused. And the distance between them has never been more apparent.

Wanting to teach her estranged husband a lesson, Violet decides to feign an illness of her own. James quickly sees through it, but he decides to play along in an ever-escalating game of manipulation, featuring actors masquerading as doctors, threats of Swiss sanitariums, faux mistresses—and a lot of flirtation between a husband and wife who might not hate each other as much as they thought. Will the two be able to overcome four years of hurt or will they continue to deny the spark between them?

With charm, wit, and heart in spades, To Have and to Hoax is a fresh and eminently entertaining romantic comedy—perfect for fans of Jasmine Guillory and Julia Quinn.

Chlorine Sky – Mahogany L. Browne

A novel-in-verse about a young girl coming-of-age and stepping out of the shadow of her former best friend.

She looks me hard in my eyes
& my knees lock into tree trunks
My eyes don’t dance like my heartbeat racing
They stare straight back hot daggers.
I remember things will never be the same.
I remember things.

Mahogany L. Browne delivers a novel-in-verse about broken promises, fast rumors, and when growing up means growing apart from your best friend.

The kids’ loot:

https://flic.kr/p/2kKkMbLhttp://

What did you get from your library this week?

Books On My Spring 2021 TBR #TopTenTuesday

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is:

Books On My Spring 2021 TBR

As you may know, I’m not the best at sticking to reading plans.

But I do follow some reading challenges (you can see the complete list here). And also, another initiative, the Read the World challenge on Instagram . 

So I will continue to work on these challenges, and here are some I hope to read!

A5080A02-B8C6-4F54-98B7-2BD2CB08E2C2

For the Back to the Classics challenge:

Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome (published in 1930) as an Adventure classic.

For the Reading Women Challenge:

Tokyo Ueno Station by You Miri for A Book with a Protagonist Older than 50

For the Read Harder Challenge:

Tiny Moons: A Year of Eating in Shanghai by Nina Mingya Powles for Read a food memoir by an author of color.

The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo for Read a historical fiction with a POC or LGBTQ+ protagonist

For the Storygraph Translation Challenge:

Hotel Silence by Auõur Ava Ólafsdóttir for A book translated from Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Finnish or Icelandic

For the PopSugar challenge

Black Chalk by Christopher J Yates for A dark academia book

 


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 (March 15, 2021)

0CCA31A0-E888-460E-BF4C-F636530A2778

The boys and I made mixed berry muffins

 

88A75FE7-386B-41FC-8884-2E177CACEF20

Made some honey walnut bread.

D1FB75D8-81E2-43F0-BD2A-DAC7A70B0241

Miso-marinated mahi-mahi which we ate with rice and stir-fried bokchoy

 

31883101-5300-422E-A30B-1E4825F33C53

I also made a blueberry pie for Pi Day! I’ll have to write a post for this. So many things went wrong, but at least I made a pie for Pi Day!

 

CE45943C-D16B-45AF-921A-13D774A75142

The kids have discovered a new love for zhajiang mian(炸酱面)which literally translated is “fried sauce noodles” but that sounds weird and I wonder why it’s named that way. It’s more of a black bean sauce with ground pork with fermented soybean paste. Served with cucumbers and bean sprouts. It’s also a popular Korean-Chinese dish and in Korean it’s known as jajangmyeon although it’s black bean noodles there? It’s not something I grew up eating in Singapore so I’ve not tried to make it before. Another recipe to try then!

 

Currently…

Reading:

3C32B969-94F5-4FD4-A9AA-014E12F54CC6

The Down Days – Ilze Hugo

The Resisters – Gish Jen

Watching:

Finally, I’m starting on The Magicians season 5. Also, I just watched the first episode of Lupin last week! Fun show! 

Listening:

Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart

Eating:

Blueberry pie

Drinking:

Oolong tea

Cooking:

I’ve got a cauliflower to roast.

My kids watched a Tasty video of potato recipes and are trying to convince me to make this one – Breakfast Potato Volcanoes. I only have Yukon golds at the moment so they might not be big enough (they use russets in the video). Or maybe they might work if there are bigger ones in that bag? I’ll have to look. I’ll post it if I make them!

We are in for a colder week this week, with hopefully some rain, so I’ll make some baked pasta or something. Maybe some tomato soup. Something nice and warming. 

Last week:

I read:

3C6E98F5-E0C8-493C-BD19-E1F77C1CF4BA

The Princess and the Fangirl – Ashley Poston

Our Happy Time – Ji-young Gong

Punching the Air – Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salam

Traces of Love – Eileen Chang

 

I posted:

Two books about incarceration

The Shadow King and The First Wife

Library Loot (March 10 to 16)

Books that feature cleaners #TopTenTuesday

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

Two books about incarceration

Somehow I ended up reading and listening to two books about incarceration at the same time.

I had borrowed the audiobook of Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam (narrated by Ethan Herisse) for the Reading Women Challenge – book about incarceration. I had also borrowed Gong Ji-young’s Our Happy Time for Read the World, an Instagram challenge. I borrowed Our Happy Time without any clue of what it was about, just that it’s written by a Korean author, only to find out later that it’s about a death row prisoner. For some reason, I didn’t feel that two books about prison was too much. They had very distinct voices and sentiments.

447BC221-81AA-4F5B-8E86-9AFE08D6D215

Punching the Air

This novel in verse is just amazing. I chose to listen to it as I’ve enjoyed listening to other verse novels such as those by Jacqueline Woodson. The only drawback is that now I can’t quote things to you, except for what I find online (I suppose I should learn to take notes when I listen to an audiobook?).

Yusef Salam is one of the exonerated Central Park Five and he and Ibi Zoboi have created an incredible story and a great character in Amal Shahid, a black teenager who’s been accused of beating up a white teen who’s now unconscious.

I find it hard to write a review about an audiobook, but there are very many parts that stick in my mind.

The jury, the media, they all see him as the black defendant, as a fully-grown man. Compared to the white teenager, who’s the “boy”, although they’re the same age. Amal is already viewed as guilty before his conviction.

His art history teacher throwing him out of class because he asks if non-white people had works of art that were worth featuring too.

His mother asking him to persevere. And reminding him what Maya Angelou said about dust. “It rises.”

Amal drawing all over his cell with markers that he stole from the poetry teacher.

The writing was honest and true. It was such an emotional ride. I’m not the best at listening to audiobooks, I get easily distracted. But this one held my attention. It hit me, hard, and wouldn’t let go. It was hard hitting and devastating.

3C6E98F5-E0C8-493C-BD19-E1F77C1CF4BA

In Our Happy Time, Yujeong is in hospital after her third suicide attempt and her aunt comes to visit. Her aunt, a nun, asks Yujeong to accompany her to the prison. Aunt Monica has been visiting the death-row prisoners, and one of them has asked to meet Yujeong, who used to be a singer and once sang the national anthem at a baseball game.

Yunsu was sentenced to death because of his role in a rape and murder. In some notes that he’s written, that are interspersed throughout the book, we learn of his childhood with his younger brother and abusive drunk father. He had to take care of his younger brother, Eunsu, as they lived on the streets and did whatever they could to survive.

Yunsu and Yujeong couldn’t be more different. Yujeong’s family is wealthy, she works as a professor after her success as a singer. And I suppose that’s the point of it. That when they first meet, she judges him based on what she knows about his case, which had been in the news recently. But as they continue to meet and talk, she begins to understand that her initial thoughts about him were wrong. And as they get to know each other, Yunsu realises that despite her affluent background, her success in life, she too is broken inside.

Our Happy Time is a beautiful book about the fragility of life.

This book was made into a movie, called Maundy Thursday, and at least from the Wikipedia entry, it sounds like the plot is the same.


The Shadow King and The First Wife

DD5BC90D-4AC2-428B-A710-8B8BA9A467B2

I read these books thanks to the Instagram challenge, ReadTheWorld – February was South/East Africa.

THE SHADOW KING by MAAZA MENGISTE

It wasn’t the easiest start and it was the fact that my library ebook loan was expiring that got me finally going past the first chapter but in the end, a really worthwhile read.

I will have to admit though that I went into this book expecting some kind of a fantasy twist, I guess the title threw me into that spin. But in the end, this historical fiction really won me over. And I think that was due very much to the unforgettable character of Hirut. She is vulnerable when we first meet her and it was amazing following her journey. 

A brief synopsis: This story is set during Italy’s 1935 invasion of Ethiopia. Hirut is a young girl working as a servant in the home of Kidane and Aster. Kidane is an officer in Emperor Haile Selassie’s army. And he’s off to round up the men to war. The women’s role is to cook and fetch water and tend to the wounded. At least that’s their role traditionally but Aster soon turns that around when she gets on her horse and gets hold of guns and other supplies. Hirut is the one who comes up with the idea of disguising a farmer as the Emperor. The real emperor has gone into exile in England. He is thus, the Shadow King.

But really, this book isn’t about the Shadow King, but the women, the women whose stories were left out of the history books. But who had important roles to play in this war.

This was definitely eye-opening. It made me wonder about the many other untold stories of war. 

I’m just so glad I push through with this book as it was thoroughly satisfying. 

4E544D5B-C17D-43B1-99BA-178A83BA17A8

THE FIRST WIFE by PAULINA CHIZIANE

Rami is the first wife. Or rather, she thought all along that she was just “the wife”. She one day discovers that her husband Tony, the police chief, has four other families.

What would I do if I found that out? Definitely not what Rami did.

She goes in search of love spells. She organises the women and in the polygamy tradition of old Mozambique, the women demand that Tony marry them with a bride price, support their families financially, and conform to their schedule.

While quite a bit of the story is funny, it’s also difficult to read because of the ways in which women are treated. In the South, women are expected to serve their husbands on their knees, and eat only the leftovers.

“The string always breaks at its weakest point. It’s the cycle of subordination. The white man says to the black man: it’s your fault. The rich man says to the poor man: it’s your fault. The man says to the woman: it’s your fault. The woman says to her son: it’s your fault. The son says to the dog: it’s your fault. The dog barks furiously and bites the white man and the white man, once again angrily shouts at the black man: it’s your fault. And so the wheel turns century after century ad infinitum.”

The First Wife‘s original title is Niketche: Uma História de Poligamia. Chiziane is from Mozambique and was the first woman to publish a novel in her country. It looks like she’s written 5 novels but retired a few years ago. She wrote in Portuguese although I’m not sure if her other books have been translated into English.

Library Loot (March 10 to 16)

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.

 

(edited to add: oops not sure why this didn’t post earlier at my usual time!)

Happy Library Loot day!

How’s your week going? Claire has the link-up this week.

I saw that the Tournament of Books had its Pre-Tournament Play-in and I was like, what? Already? I had been thinking of trying to read some of the books, but guess what, I have read only one, Breasts and Eggs (my thoughts here). 

At any rate, I decided to go see what some of these books were about. I was more interested in reading Red Pill, which was the book that won’t the play-in, but the ebook copy wasn’t available. I put a hold on it so hopefully in another week or so?

 

 

I was immediately drawn to this very striking cover! Then intrigued by the thought of reading a quarantine story during a pandemic. 

Down Days – Ilze Hugo

In the aftermath of a deadly outbreak—reminiscent of the 1962 event of mass hysteria that was the Tanganyika Laughter Epidemic—a city at the tip of Africa is losing its mind, with residents experiencing hallucinations and paranoia. Is it simply another episode of mass hysteria, or something more sinister? In a quarantined city in which the inexplicable has already occurred, rumors, superstitions, and conspiracy theories abound.

During these strange days, Faith works as a fulltime corpse collector and a freelance “truthologist,” putting together disparate pieces of information to solve problems. But after Faith agrees to help an orphaned girl find her abducted baby brother, she begins to wonder whether the boy is even real. Meanwhile, a young man named Sans who trades in illicit goods is so distracted by a glimpse of his dream woman that he lets a bag of money he owes his gang partners go missing-leaving him desperately searching for both and soon questioning his own sanity.

Over the course of a single week, the paths of Faith, Sans, and a cast of other hustlers—including a data dealer, a drug addict, a sin eater, and a hyena man—will cross and intertwine as they move about the city, looking for lost souls, uncertain absolution, and answers that may not exist.

Another one on the TOB list. I decided to try this as an audiobook. Let’s see if it works. 

Shuggie Bain – Douglas Stuart

Shuggie Bain is the unforgettable story of young Hugh “Shuggie” Bain, a sweet and lonely boy who spends his 1980s childhood in run-down public housing in Glasgow, Scotland. Thatcher’s policies have put husbands and sons out of work, and the city’s notorious drugs epidemic is waiting in the wings. Shuggie’s mother Agnes walks a wayward path: she is Shuggie’s guiding light but a burden for him and his siblings. She dreams of a house with its own front door while she flicks through the pages of the Freemans catalogue, ordering a little happiness on credit, anything to brighten up her grey life. Married to a philandering taxi-driver husband, Agnes keeps her pride by looking good–her beehive, make-up, and pearly-white false teeth offer a glamourous image of a Glaswegian Elizabeth Taylor. But under the surface, Agnes finds increasing solace in drink, and she drains away the lion’s share of each week’s benefits–all the family has to live on–on cans of extra-strong lager hidden in handbags and poured into tea mugs. Agnes’s older children find their own ways to get a safe distance from their mother, abandoning Shuggie to care for her as she swings between alcoholic binges and sobriety. Shuggie is meanwhile struggling to somehow become the normal boy he desperately longs to be, but everyone has realized that he is “no right,” a boy with a secret that all but him can see. Agnes is supportive of her son, but her addiction has the power to eclipse everyone close to her–even her beloved Shuggie.

A heartbreaking story of addiction, sexuality, and love, Shuggie Bain is an epic portrayal of a working-class family that is rarely seen in fiction. Recalling the work of Edouard Louis, Alan Hollinghurst, Frank McCourt, and Hanya Yanagihara, it is a blistering debut by a brilliant novelist who has a powerful and important story to tell.

I suppose that since I live in this land where baseball (and American football) is the sport of the country, I should at least try this book that has to do with baseball, especially since it’s a girl playing baseball. 

The Resisters – Gish Jen

An audacious marvel of a novel about baseball and a future America, from the always inventive and exciting author of The Love Wife and Who’s Irish

The time: a not-so-distant future. The place: AutoAmerica. The land: half under water. The Internet—the new face of government—is “Aunt Nettie”: a mix of artificial intelligence, surveillance technology, and pesky maxims. The people have been divided, and no one is happy. The angel-fair “Netted” still have jobs and literally occupy the high ground, while the mostly coppertoned “Surplus” live on swampland if they’re lucky, on the water if they’re not.
     The story: To a Surplus couple—he was a professor, she’s still a lawyer—is born a Blasian girl with a golden arm. At two, Gwen is hurling her stuffed animals from the crib; by ten she can hit whatever target she likes with a baseball; her teens find her playing happily in an underground Surplus league. When AutoAmerica re-enters the Olympics—with a special eye on beating ChinRussia—Gwen attracts interest. Soon she’s at Net U, falling in love with her coach and considering “crossing over,” even as her mother is challenging the AutoAmerican Way with lawsuits that will prove very dangerous.
     An astonishing story of an America that seems only too possible, and of a family struggling to maintain its humanity in circumstances that threaten their every value—even their very existence.

What did you get from your library this week?

Books that feature cleaners #TopTenTuesday

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is:

 It’s a Spring Cleaning Freebie

(for example, books you’re planning to get rid of for whatever reason, book’s you’d like to clean off your TBR by either reading them or deciding you’re not interested, books that feel fresh and clean to you after winter is over, etc.)

How about books about cleaners/domestic workers? This list is a mix of fiction and non-fiction, but decidedly not about self-improvement.

38E357C8-1CF1-4658-BBDC-0F5FDA281A8C

The Trauma Cleaner by Sarah Krasnostein (nonfiction)

A Manual for Cleaning Women by Lucia Berlin (short stories – Berlin herself was a cleaning woman for a time)

Vacuum in the Dark by Jen Beagin

My Cleaner by Maggie Gee

Upstairs Downstairs by John Hawkesworth

Like One of the Family: Conversations from a Domestic’s Life by Alice Childress

Mary Reilly – Valerie Martin

Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive by Stephanie Land


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 (March 8, 2021)

It’s Monday again! Ugh. Sorry I didn’t sleep that well last night and I’m struggling to type this up on a Sunday afternoon….

Some things last week:

EC04E514-3F7C-4DB2-A070-B27A2EB9CE5F

We made a broccoli bacon bunashimeiji (mushroom) pizza. I like to add whole wheat flour in my pizza dough. 

A890BD87-6355-446F-A2C5-6AC5E70D2346

A quick weekday lunch of frozen bulgogi mandu (Korean dumplings) from Costco. And my usual instant noodle hack – cook the noodles, drain, and pour into a sauce of my own making. This is soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, white pepper, and a hit of ketchup. Also, before boiling the noodles, throw in some baby bokchoy to cook. 

 

 

Currently…

Reading:

C62B9395-A6D4-4A60-9DA0-A76D7F81F5E8

Untold Night and Day – Bae Suah

The Princess and the Fangirl – Ashley Poston

Watching:

The Magicians

Listening:

Punching the Air – Ibi Zoboi

Eating:

C3C6FF5E-9777-481B-9C34-059C473C2E65

I made a pandan butter cake.  

 

Drinking:

 

Cooking:

 

Last week:

I read:

9C68510D-375D-4EA0-A8E5-FAA2DB04C24D

Our Happy Time – Ji-young Gong

Milk Fed – Melissa Broder

I posted:

Library Loot (March 3 to 9)

Characters Whose Job I Wish I Had #TopTenTuesday

 

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

 

Library Loot (March 3 to 9)

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! And happy March! Can you believe we are already in March? I somehow ended up borrowing a LOT of ebooks this past week. 

Over at Instagram, it is Korean March. So I’ve got a couple of Korean writers listed here today. Also, the other day, I mentioned to the husband that a lot of current (and recently finished) reads are quite heavy ones. And he said, but why, shouldn’t reading be enjoyable? So looking over my ebooks, I decided that I did need some lighter fare and so added even more books!

 

Punching the Air – Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salam

The story that I thought

was my life

didn’t start on the day

I was born

Amal Shahid has always been an artist and a poet. But even in a diverse art school, he’s seen as disruptive and unmotivated by a biased system. Then one fateful night, an altercation in a gentrifying neighborhood escalates into tragedy. “Boys just being boys” turns out to be true only when those boys are white.

The story that I think

will be my life

starts today

Suddenly, at just sixteen years old, Amal’s bright future is upended: he is convicted of a crime he didn’t commit and sent to prison. Despair and rage almost sink him until he turns to the refuge of his words, his art. This never should have been his story. But can he change it?

With spellbinding lyricism, award-winning author Ibi Zoboi and prison reform activist Yusef Salaam tell a moving and deeply profound story about how one boy is able to maintain his humanity and fight for the truth, in a system designed to strip him of both.

 

Traces of Love – Eileen Chang, translated from the Chinese by Eva Hung

Written by one of the most lauded Chinese writers of the twentieth century, this bijou story focuses around the relationship between Mr and Mrs Mi and compares their bond of love with the sense of care they feel for the elderly Mrs Yang. A subtle examination of the fragile ties that bind us to those whom we love and those for whom we find ourselves caring along the way.

What Doesn’t Kill You: A Life with Chronic Illness – Lessons from a Body in Revolt – Tessa Hadley

The riveting account of a young journalist’s awakening to chronic illness, weaving together personal story and reporting to shed light on living with an ailment forever.

Tessa Miller was an ambitious twentysomething writer in New York City when, on a random fall day, her stomach began to seize up. At first, she toughed it out through searing pain, taking sick days from work, unable to leave the bathroom or her bed. But when it became undeniable that something was seriously wrong, Miller gave in to family pressure and went to the hospital—beginning a yearslong nightmare of procedures, misdiagnoses, and life-threatening infections. Once she was finally correctly diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, Miller faced another battle: accepting that she will never get better.

Today, an astonishing three in five adults in the United States suffer from a chronic disease—a percentage expected to rise post-Covid. Whether the illness is arthritis, asthma, Crohn’s, diabetes, endometriosis, multiple sclerosis, ulcerative colitis, or any other incurable illness, and whether the sufferer is a colleague, a loved one, or you, these diseases have an impact on just about every one of us. Yet there remains an air of shame and isolation about the topic of chronic sickness. Millions must endure these disorders not only physically but also emotionally, balancing the stress of relationships and work amid the ever-present threat of health complications.

Miller segues seamlessly from her dramatic personal experiences into a frank look at the cultural realities (medical, occupational, social) inherent in receiving a lifetime diagnosis. She offers hard-earned wisdom, solidarity, and an ultimately surprising promise of joy for those trying to make sense of it all.

Our Happy Time by Gong JiYoung

Yu-Jung, beautiful, wealthy, and bright, is lying in her hospital bed, recovering from her third suicide attempt, when she receives a life-changing visit. Her no-nonsense aunt, a nun, appears by her side and suggests Yu-Jung accompany her on a charitable visit to death row. At her lowest ebb, Yu-Jung is resistant. But something compels her to go to the prison. There she meets Yun-Soo, a convicted murderer who will soon be put to death. Though she is repulsed by his crimes, something about the depth of his suffering strikes a chord in her. Shaken by their encounter, she returns to visit him the next week. And the next…

Through their weekly, hour-long meetings, Yu-Jung and Yun-Soo slowly reveal to each other the dark secrets of their pasts and the hidden traumas that have shaped their lives. In doing so they form a deep, unbreakable bond, helping one another overcome their demons. But Yun-Soo’s hands are always in cuffs, the prison officers are always in the background, and they can never lose sight of the fact that their happy time together is tragically brief.

A seductive, disorienting novel that manipulates the fragile line between dreams and reality, by South Korea’s leading contemporary writer

Untold Night and Day – Bae Suah

A startling and boundary-pushing novel, Untold Night and Day tells the story of a young woman’s journey through Seoul over the course of a night and a day. It’s 28-year-old Ayami’s final day at her box-office job in Seoul’s audio theater. Her night is spent walking the sweltering streets of the city with her former boss in search of Yeoni, their missing elderly friend, and her day is spent looking after a mysterious, visiting poet. Their conversations take in art, love, food, and the inaccessible country to the north.

Almost immediately, in the heat of Seoul at the height of the summer, order gives way to chaos as the edges of reality start to fray, with Ayami becoming an unwitting escort into a fever-dream of increasingly tangled threads, all the while images of the characters’ overlapping realities repeat, collide, change, and reassert themselves in this masterful work that upends the very structure of fiction and narrative storytelling and burns itself upon the soul of the reader.

By one of the boldest and most innovative voices in contemporary Korean literature, and brilliantly realized in English by International Man Booker­–winning translator Deborah Smith, Bae Suah’s hypnotic and wholly original novel asks whether more than one version of ourselves can exist at once, demonstrating the malleable nature of reality as we know it.

The Friend Zone – Abby Jimenez

Kristen Petersen doesn’t do drama, will fight to the death for her friends, and has no room in her life for guys who just don’t get her. She’s also keeping a big secret: facing a medically necessary procedure that will make it impossible for her to have children.

Planning her best friend’s wedding is bittersweet for Kristen—especially when she meets the best man, Josh Copeland. He’s funny, sexy, never offended by her mile-wide streak of sarcasm, and always one chicken enchilada ahead of her hangry. Even her dog, Stuntman Mike, adores him. The only catch: Josh wants a big family someday. Kristen knows he’d be better off with someone else, but as their attraction grows, it’s harder and harder to keep him at arm’s length.

The Princess and the Fangirl – Ashley Poston

The Prince and the Pauper gets a modern makeover in this adorable, witty, and heartwarming young adult novel set in the Geekerella universe by national bestselling author Ashley Poston.

Imogen Lovelace is an ordinary fangirl on an impossible mission: save her favorite character, Princess Amara, from being killed off from her favorite franchise, Starfield. The problem is, Jessica Stone—the actress who plays Princess Amara—wants nothing more than to leave the intense scrutiny of the fandom behind. If this year’s ExcelsiCon isn’t her last, she’ll consider her career derailed.

When a case of mistaken identity throws look-a-likes Imogen and Jess together, they quickly become enemies. But when the script for the Starfield sequel leaks, and all signs point to Jess, she and Imogen must trade places to find the person responsible. That’s easier said than done when the girls step into each other’s shoes and discover new romantic possibilities, as well as the other side of intense fandom. As these “princesses” race to find the script-leaker, they must rescue themselves from their own expectations, and redefine what it means to live happily ever after.

What did you get from your library this week?