#amonthoffaves – Blogger Love

 

A Month of Faves is hosted by  GirlxoxoTraveling with T and Estella’s Revenge

#AMonthofFaves [The Blogger Love Edition] – Recommend some bloggers and for us to check out and tell us what you like about each blog, e.g. bookish, food, fashion, travel, lifestyle, money, mom blogs, productivity etc. 

First of all, a shout out to the three hosts of A Month of Faves –  Tanya Patrice and Kim at GirlXOXO,  Tamara at Traveling with T and Andi at Estella’s Revenge for hosting this event!

Also some great blogs out there, in no particular order….

Reading the End 

The Captive Reader  (full disclosure: I’ve just started co-hosting Library Loot with her)

Buried in Print

746 Books

A Fantastical Librarian

 

Some food bloggers

Bake For Happy Kids

Cardamom and Tea

And also, I’ve started following some crochet bloggers

Attic 24

Look At What I Made 

Cherry Heart Blog

Repeat Crafter Me

Advertisements

Library Loot December 5 to 11

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.

I’m so thrilled to let you all know that I’m the new co-host for Library Loot! The lovely Claire from The Captive Reader has been helming it for a while now and I’m really excited to be t. I’ll be hosting next week, so please see her post for the details!

Also, hello! Hello to you new readers and subscribers, thanks for popping over here to check out my blog. A little bit about me – I love libraries and visit our local library with my two boys (ages 5 and 7) every week. We borrow lots of books – chapter books for the 7yo, beginning readers and picture books for the 5yo. As a result, my tote bags are full of kids books and my shoulders are aching. So pretty much all the library books I get for myself these days are ebooks via the Libby app!

Meanwhile, here’s what I got from the library this week.

The Cloud Roads – Martha Wells

I’ve heard of Wells’ Murderbot series and that’s on my tbr list but when I saw the cover of this one, I just wanted to start with this.

Moon has spent his life hiding what he is — a shape-shifter able to transform himself into a winged creature of flight. An orphan with only vague memories of his own kind, Moon tries to fit in among the tribes of his river valley, with mixed success. Just as Moon is once again cast out by his adopted tribe, he discovers a shape-shifter like himself… someone who seems to know exactly what he is, who promises that Moon will be welcomed into his community. What this stranger doesn’t tell Moon is that his presence will tip the balance of power… that his extraordinary lineage is crucial to the colony’s survival… and that his people face extinction at the hands of the dreaded Fell! Now Moon must overcome a lifetime of conditioning in order to save himself… and his newfound kin.

A Princess in Theory  – Alyssa Cole

Reading romance novels is quite a new thing for me. I had long turned my nose up at them, but I’ve since found some really smart writing, great characters, and fun reads. I enjoyed Cole’s An Extraordinary Union and was curious about this one.

Between grad school and multiple jobs, Naledi Smith doesn’t have time for fairy tales…or patience for the constant e-mails claiming she’s betrothed to an African prince. Sure. Right. Delete! As a former foster kid, she’s learned that the only things she can depend on are herself and the scientific method, and a silly e-mail won’t convince her otherwise.

Prince Thabiso is the sole heir to the throne of Thesolo, shouldering the hopes of his parents and his people. At the top of their list? His marriage. Ever dutiful, he tracks down his missing betrothed. When Naledi mistakes the prince for a pauper, Thabiso can’t resist the chance to experience life—and love—without the burden of his crown.

The chemistry between them is instant and irresistible, and flirty friendship quickly evolves into passionate nights. But when the truth is revealed, can a princess in theory become a princess ever after?

 

 

Some holds came in for me just this morning!

Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows – Balli Kaur Jaswal

I’ve enjoyed Jaswal’s other stories like Sugarbread and Inheritance, both which are set in Singapore. So I’ve been looking forward to reading her latest.

Nikki lives in cosmopolitan West London, where she tends bar at the local pub. The daughter of Indian immigrants, she’s spent most of her twenty-odd years distancing herself from the traditional Sikh community of her childhood, preferring a more independent (that is, Western) life. When her father’s death leaves the family financially strapped, Nikki, a law school dropout, impulsively takes a job teaching a “creative writing” course at the community center in the beating heart of London’s close-knit Punjabi community.

Because of a miscommunication, the proper Sikh widows who show up are expecting to learn basic English literacy, not the art of short-story writing. When one of the widows finds a book of sexy stories in English and shares it with the class, Nikki realizes that beneath their white dupattas, her students have a wealth of fantasies and memories. Eager to liberate these modest women, she teaches them how to express their untold stories, unleashing creativity of the most unexpected—and exciting—kind.

As more women are drawn to the class, Nikki warns her students to keep their work secret from the Brotherhood, a group of highly conservative young men who have appointed themselves the community’s “moral police.” But when the widows’ gossip offers shocking insights into the death of a young wife—a modern woman like Nikki—and some of the class erotica is shared among friends, it sparks a scandal that threatens them all.

 

Normal People – Sally Rooney

Silly me, I had started this book a few months ago, then somehow my library ebook was due and I didn’t realize that, and of course it disappeared from my Libby app! I know you can do that Airplane Mode thing, but well, I just forgot. Surprisingly there was quite a bit of a wait on this book so I only just got my grubby hands back on it this week.

 

Connell and Marianne both grow up in the same town in rural Ireland. The similarities end there; they are from very different worlds. But they both get places to study at university in Dublin, and a connection that has grown between them despite the social tangle of school lasts long into the following years.

Sally Rooney’s second novel is a deeply political novel, just as it’s also a novel about love. It’s about how difficult it is to speak to what you feel and how difficult it is to change. It’s wry and seductive; perceptive and bold. It will make you cry and you will know yourself through it.

Books from previous weeks

 

I’m still listening – and enjoying – this audiobook

And I’m also working on Stay With Me

What did you get from your library this week?

#AMonthOfFaves – Books worth the hype (and not)

 

 

A Month of Faves is hosted by  GirlxoxoTraveling with T and Estella’s Revenge

WED. | Dec. 5 – #AMonthofFaves Popular Books Worth the Hype (and/or Not Worth the Hype)

I’m not exactly one who reads bestsellers and hyped books, at least I don’t think so. I am never quite sure what ‘hype’ means with books. Does it mean those lists of “most anticipated releases” that get published every so often? Or does it mean that I see it appear on the blogs and Instagrammers that I follow?

I was looking at my Goodreads ‘read’ list for the year and started noticing the number of ratings that each book had. There were the rare ones, like Wonder, that numbered in the 500,000s. And we don’t need to talk about the Harry Potter books which are in the sky high 5 million plus! But anything in the six figures were definitely popular books like Turtles All The Way Down by John Green and Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer. In contrast, an excellent book like Mishell Baker’s The Impostor Syndrome only has 445! (Note to self, always put a rating in Goodreads, especially for books like this)

But if I were only to count those in the six figures, I wouldn’t have read many. So instead I decided to go for those books with more than 25,000 ratings. There were some that I read, not that many, but some that surprised me as I had expected more ratings for them, as, to me, they were ‘hyped’. For instance, it felt that I keep seeing the Jackaby series by William Ritter, but surprisingly, just 18,663 ratings, so that means I can’t quite call it ‘hyped’, can I?

Ok, grumblings aside, here are….

Books read in 2018 that were worth the hype!

The Last Black Unicorn – Tiffany Haddish (26,535 ratings)

I listened to the audiobook and it was a lot of fun.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman (254,854 ratings)

Eleanor is such an awkward but endearing character, you can’t help but root for her.

Born A Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood – Trevor Noah (161,674 ratings)

I don’t watch late night TV but I was interested in Noah’s story of growing up in South Africa and it definitely was a fascinating read. His mother was quite a force to be reckoned with! Unfortunately my library didn’t have an audiobook version but I’m sure it would make for a great listen.

Pachinko – Min Jin Lee (80,172 ratings)

Loved this intergenerational saga that begins in Korea and ends in Japan. Such details and lovely writing!

Agnes Grey – Anne Brontë (43,705 ratings)

For a classic, that’s not a huge number of ratings actually. But I really was surprised to find myself liking this short (251 pages) story based on Brontë’s own experience as a governess.

I’ll Be Gone In the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer – Michelle McNamara (56,806 ratings)

Oh man this book, just thinking about it gives me the chills. An absolutely terrifying, well-written true crime book.

 

 

Books read in 2018 that weren’t worth the hype

I don’t think there were really books that made me go “Ugh not worth it!”. So just a couple that made me think that maybe it’s more like, “eh, not for me”. Maybe these books are just more for someone else.

The Cuckoo’s Calling – JK Rowling (400,033 ratings)

A decent enough read, but I haven’t been hooked enough yet to start on the next book in the series…

The Immortalists – Chloe Benjamin (58,632 ratings)

It was an intriguing premise but for me, I kept wanting more of the stories of two of the siblings and wasn’t so interested in the others.

 

Books read in 2018 that I wish had far more hype

I know it’s not mentioned in the prompt but there are so many great books out there that don’t have enough hype.

Everything Here is Beautiful – Mira T Lee (6,634 ratings)

Lee has written an absolutely gorgeous book about two Chinese-American sisters, of mental illness, of immigrants. Read it! Read it!

The Arcadia Project series – Mishell Baker

This urban fantasy series begins with Borderline (3,322 ratings), goes onto Phantom Pains (1,082 ratings), and ends with Impostor Syndrome (447 ratings). Baker creates great settings and very memorable characters – her lead is a double amputee with Borderline Personality Disorder!

Forty Rooms – Olga Grushin (1,060 ratings)

Such a beautiful book – a kind of collection of short stories taking place in different rooms that a woman has lived in over her lifetime.

Death by Dumpling (A Noodle Shop Mystery #1) – Vivien Chien (just 582 ratings)

This was such a cute and fun foodie cozy mystery series set in an Asian mall in Cleveland. I really appreciate the way Chien draws her protagonist, not as your typical successful Asian but instead somehow who’s not done so well – bad breakup, quit her job, moved back in with her parents.

What books lived (or not) up to hype for you this year?

Check out what books I thought were worth the hype (or not) in 2017

 

#AMonthofFaves – 2018 Favourites



I’m glad that  GirlxoxoTraveling with T and Estella’s Revenge have brought back A Month of Faves! It’s a fun way to look back at the year

MON. | Dec. 3 – #AMonthofFaves [The 2018 Favorites Edition]– e.g. to eat, drink, wear, smell, see, do, enjoy, best purchases, most used gift received, most used purchases, favorite concert, outdoor activity, place visited, most squee worthy moment of the year.

Some of my favourite things this year (not in order of importance, just in order of whatever pops into my head!)

My younger boy started kindergarten – that means both boys are in the same school! Yay! But kindergarten is just 3 hours long so that means he’s still with me for most of the day.

I got an Apple Watch. It wasn’t something I was really interested in at first, to be honest. I’d been doing fine without a watch of any sort (haha!) for a while. But I really like the fitness features of the watch. It amazingly can detect the strokes when swimming and yes it is indeed waterproof and even has a function to “dry” the watch or expel the water when you’re done swimming.

Our yearly Singapore trip was a lot of fun. And this time the husband and I got to go away for a few days on our own! We are of course thankful for grandparents who helped with the kids and allowed us to disappear to Phuket, Thailand, for a bit! It was a nice few days away from the kids, in a beautiful hotel that was by the beach, although it was monsoon season and the day we arrived it was storming and the waves were always huge. If you’re thinking of heading to Phuket one day, I would definitely highly recommend the beautiful Sala Hotel. It’s a Thai brand of boutique hotels and the staff were so welcoming, the rooms were beautiful, and the food, oh man, the food there was amazing, from the bountiful breakfast buffet (included in our room rate), and the fantastic dinners, whether Thai-style or western-style. You can read more about my trip here

We also drove up to the Oregon coast and it was so pretty and peaceful. We stayed at a house in the little town of Gold Beach and it was on the beach but really windy and chilly. The kids still played on the beach though!

Crocheting was something I started teaching myself last summer, I’ve become more ambitious and this year started making bags and I just finished my first sweater!

Health-wise, we’ve been quite a good year except for me catching pneumonia somehow.

And earlier in the year, we joined a gym. This one is a family gym, that is, the kids are members too and they can use the pool and facilities (not the actual gym itself as they’re under 12) like the tennis courts, indoor basketball court. The boys have been taking swim lessons and tennis lessons there. They have a great kids club too. My 7yo loves the room for the older kids as they have an xbox. He went mostly in summer. The 5yo loves the younger kids room (it’s from babies until the age of 6), where the staff are very caring and fun, and one of his good friends from kindergarten goes on weekdays too. And for myself, I’ve been enjoying the various exercise classes I’ve been taking like Zumba!

I’ve also been experimenting a bit with baking and trying out new recipes like Condensed Milk Bread, fougasse, chocolate digestives, and pizza buns

It’s Monday and I’m listening to Awkward Black Girl

It’s been a cough-cough-cough week for me. Oddly, and thankfully, it’s only me who’s got this hacking cough. So I’m just trying to rest more and drink a lot of water and tea.

 

But ahem, we went to Dog Haus on Sunday and I had a really good hotdog. I only ate two or three tater tots though!

Not much happening this week but the boys got to open their Lego Advent calendars!

 

Currently…

Reading:

 

Watching:

The Final Table. It’s an international cooking competition and I love how the chefs come from many different countries like Spain, South Africa, Australia, India, and that the episodes focus on different countries like Brazil, Japan, Mexico. But why no China? Isn’t Chinese cuisine important?

But I was most disappointed that when it came to the judges for the USA episode. The first half of each episode has 3 judges, usually 1 food critic and then 2 celebrities – there have been models and singers (Bebel Gilberto!) also sports stars like footballer Alessandro del Piero. And I suppose that’s fine, they want to up the glamour or something like that on the show. The thing is, why was the US episode 3 white men?? All the other countries had a woman judge, sometimes two. So disappointing.

Listening:

Eating:

I had some slices of baguette and a mug of milky Yorkshire Gold

Cooking:

My mom went to visit a friend in New York for the week but she’ll be back Friday evening. So I’m planning for the usual simple meals like noodles and pastas.

Crafting:

 

I’ve been working on hexagons! I’ve wanted to make something to cover the top of our piano and figure that this is a nice way of using up all those various bits and pieces of yarn I have.

Last week:

I read:

I posted:

#weekendcooking: Condensed Milk Bread

An Excess Male by Maggie Shen King

Library Loot

 

 

 

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

#weekendcooking: Condensed Milk Bread

My family wasn’t big on condensed milk like some families in Singapore were and are – a lot of condensed milk is used by drink stalls, for instance, sweetening Singapore-style milk teas and coffees and Milo. For a long time, my in-laws would add condensed milk into their coffee so I would buy that for them when they visited.

But condensed milk makes me think of when I used to go camping in Singapore, as part of the Outdoor Activities Club at my junior college. We’d slather condensed milk over bread and that was breakfast. Some years ago, in a little dingy Shanghainese-style eatery in the Bay Area, we discovered mantou (or a deep-fried bun) served with condensed milk as a dip. So sinful. So delicious! Sadly the eatery closed down after a few years. I’ve yet to see that dish in another eatery here.

Recently, I spotted this recipe from Bake for Happy Kids –  Condensed Milk Bread

And I knew I had to try it.

Of course I didn’t have condensed milk – and had run out of bread flour – so a supermarket trip was needed. But anything for a good bake, right?

You can find the recipe for Condensed Milk Bread here. I followed it to the T but decided to make two loaves.

This is actually a 排包 paibao – 排 meaning line and 包 meaning bread or bun – and if you look at the original bloggers’ photos, you can definitely see the lines clearly. Mine was a bit over proofed so it lost definition.

The lines of bread are made from dividing the dough into 15 little balls, rolling them out into strips that fit into your loaf tin. It’s quite a bit of work, especially if you’re making two loaves like I was!

But it does make for some extra soft and lovely bread. It isn’t overly sweet and tastes a little bit milky from the condensed milk and the milk powder. Quite a delightful loaf of bread!

I’ve been wondering though about the 15 balls. Perhaps I will experiment the next time, and instead of 15 I’d do the usual 4 balls when I make tangzhong bread  and see if that makes any difference.


Weekend Cooking at Beth Fish Reads 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

An Excess Male by Maggie Shen King

I first heard of this book in an article about recent dystopian fiction written by women. It stood out, as I tend to be drawn to books written by Asian women, and the premise was especially of interest. Set in a near-future Beijing, affected by the one-child policy which has resulted in far too many males, An Excess Male is the story of a family. May-Ling has two men in her life – Hann and Xiong-Xin or XX. They’re not exactly a typical China family as Hann is “Wilfully Sterile” (the official term for gay), and XX is a “Lost Boy “, socially awkward but brilliant and probably on the autism spectrum. They have a young child together.

We are also introduced to Wei-guo, a personal trainer in his early 40s, a single man whose two fathers have saved up in order for him to finally be able to join a family (at least one that they can afford to join, for it is very expensive to join good families). And he wants to be part of May-Ling’s family. But something happens during a battle at the Strategic Games – this is one part of the book I didn’t quite understand, to be honest, it’s a kind of state-sponsored live-action role-playing game and I think Wei-guo didn’t want to follow some new regulations that were being put in. Anyway, it’s a government thing and he pretty much went against the government, throwing himself and his almost-family into jeopardy.

I went into this book expecting dystopia and dystopia I definitely got, but I loved how the story was so much about family. How a family can consist of one woman, one child, and three men. How there can be love, romantic love, familial love, friendship, in this less-than-typical family.