#AMonthofFaves – Winter Reading

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

Mon. | Dec 17 – #AMonthofFaves Winter Reading – Your fave reads from last Winter, and /or seasonal reads you love, and 5 books on this year’s winter reading list.

Other than reading some horror novels in the run-up to Halloween, I’m not really much of a seasonal reader. Some days in summer I might opt for a book set in winter, just to take my mind off the heat, but that’s probably the opposite of what seasonal reading means, right?

So instead of seasonal reads, how about some of my favorite reads from last winter!

Cork Dork by Bianca Bosker

What a fun journey full of wine

The Book of Dust Vol One La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman

It’s Pullman!


My Favorite Thing is Monsters Vol 1 by Emil Ferris

Beautiful and breathtaking illustrations!

What’s on this year’s winter reading list?

Well, here’s the thing, the end of the year is when major publications churn out their “Best Books” lists and I am obsessed with these lists. I love them. I love poring over them. And I love finding out that I have read like 5 out of 100. And then I love making plans to read them – which never really happen because I’m too easily distracted by other books. But I do HOPE to read some of these books which are on the Kirkus Review, NYT, and Tournament of Books lists.

Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday. I love that cover.

The House of Broken Angels by Luis Alberto Urrea. I loved Urrea’s previous works: Into the Beautiful North, and The Devil’s Highway. And for some reason kept mistaking this title as The House of Broken Angles and really that was what intrigued me.

 

How Long ’til Black Future Month? by NK Jemisin

Because it’s by Jemisin!

Washington Black – Esi Edugyan

#amonthoffaves – wishlist

 

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

 

#AMonthofFaves On Our Holiday Wishlist – There’s nothing wrong with putting what you want out in the universe. So share! What’s on your list – whether you’re hoping for it now, or saving to get it later. 

 

Whoops. I was doing so well but somehow forgot to post about this one!

I love beautiful books so I always have my eye on these editions of the Terry Pratchett books. I did get one (Mort) for my birthday this year, but would love more!

How about these beautiful Vintage Classics editions!

 

And I maybe one day I’ll own more of these editions of Fitzgerald’s books

Sigh. Just browsing these books makes me happy that these beauties exist.

Meanwhile, there’s always a demand for yarn. More and more yarn. But then where would I put it all??

What’s on your wishlist?

#AMonthofFaves – Routines and Habits

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

WED. | Dec 12 – #AMonthofFaves Routines, Habits and Changes. What Worked this Year and/or What Didn’t. What habits, routines or rituals worked for you this year – either something you kept doing – or something new that you started. What did you try that didn’t work … or what did you used to do that no longer works for you.

Something new that I started this year – going to the gym.

I’ve lived in this city for about 8 years now and I’m disappointed to say that for such a long time my exercise has been about walking in parks or around our estate. Joining a gym has been something I’ve been looking at for a while, as I’ve been wanting to take up swimming again. The kids have been going for swim class but I wanted a place where they could go and swim just for fun, especially in summer. My city doesn’t have a proper public pool – it does have a small waterpark, but that’s open only in summer.

So we joined a gym that has a family membership, that is, the kids can take classes, use the swimming pool and there are also kids’ rooms (one for those below 6 and one for older kids) where I can drop them off if I want to take a class or use the gym. My 5yo goes to kindergarten in the afternoon so he usually goes to the kids’ room in the mornings on weekdays. Luckily one of his good friends from school goes too so he’s always bugging me to go, even last week when I was sick with a bad cough! He’s good motivation to go for my exercise classes! I take 2-3 Zumba classes a week. I’m also thinking of trying out a kickboxing class. And on the weekends, the whole family plays tennis.

So that’s probably the biggest change in routine for myself this year.

How about you? 

#amonthoffaves – weekend things

MON. Dec. 10 – A Day (or Weekend) in the Life. What did you do on Saturday, December 8th … or that weekend – December 8-9. Let’s take a peak into each others lives as as we chronicle what we all did on that day (or during the weekend).

Well now I seem to have forgotten to chronicle my weekend! So I’m scrambling to write up this post on Monday at 630am. So instead of what exactly I did during the weekend, here are some things that did happen.

Saturday morning swim class. The boys go for swim class every Saturday morning in an outdoor pool – don’t worry it’s heated. And it was such a beautiful day outdoors, especially compared to last week where it was drizzling and suddenly in the middle of class a heavy downpour began.

Saturday lunch at Jang Su Jang. My mom loves Korean food so that was her request for lunch. We had our favourites like seafood pancake, dumpling soup, bulgogi, acorn noodles, and clam soon tofu. Then a wander around the Paris Baguette, a bakery-cafe chain from Korea.

The husband and I went out for dinner without the kids! It was an early celebration of our tenth anniversary (which is later this month, when my mum’s leaving for Singapore). And he wanted to take me out to omakase, which I hadn’t had before. It was a tiny restaurant in Menlo Park called Kyosho. Very popular, very crowded, and the tables were a little bit small but the food was delicious, the service was nice and it was a great time out. Also I got to wear a new dress I had bought in Singapore!

Don’t laugh but after dinner we went to Target. I had forgotten about the 20% off coupon I had and it was expiring that night! So we bought some toiletries, some hand towels I wanted to replace our old ones, some Beyblades for the boys’ Christmas presents. I’m just glad Target closes late – all the stores in the Menlo Park downtown area were shut by 7! As someone from Asia, where shopping happens until late, that always surprises me.

Sunday

Drove down to San Jose where the Mitsuwa supermarket is, it’s a big Japanese supermarket with a food court and a Kinokuniya (a bookstore chain from Japan). We ate at the Santouka ramen there, browsed at Kino, then bought some groceries from the supermarket. We were there specifically to buy the sliced beef for hotpot. The quality of the beef at the Japanese supermarket is quite a lot better than those at our local Chinese/Asian supermarkets and definitely worth the drive. Also decided to pick up a bottle of yuzu sake. I love yuzu so I wanted to try that.

The 7yo has been taking piano lessons for 2 years now and every so often the piano school holds a mini concert (plus a formal recital once a year), so this time it was the winter mini concert. And he did great!

However, in the evening, he started getting a sore throat, poor thing. Good thing that dinner was hot pot so it was nice and soupy and he managed to eat some.

And yes, hot pot! A simple easy way to have dinner, really. Just need to chop some vegetables (we used Napa cabbage), mushrooms, and make some stock. We have a two-side hotpot, so I made one vegetable stock with carrots, ginger and celery, and the other was a simple dashi commercially made, then a bit of miso for extra taste. And there was the sliced beef, fish balls and fish tofu from the Chinese supermarket, crabsticks, vegetables and mushrooms. And we ate it with rice.

How was your weekend?

#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

#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

 

Top books that blew my mind #amonthoffaves2017

amonthoffavesA Month of Faves is hosted by AndiTanya and Tamara

A Woman in the Crossfire: Diaries of the Syrian Revolution – Samar Yazbek
A difficult read but so important (my thoughts)

The Strays – Emily Bitto

This gorgeous book set in the Melbourne art world. Fantastic read.

The Spiderwoman series written by Dennis Hopeless, Javier Rodriguez

A pregnant superhero!

 

The Captain Marvel series written by Kelly Sue DeConnick

I’ve read a few different versions of Captain Marvel so far and this is absolutely the best.

Borderline and Phantom Pains – Mishell Baker

I am not much of a reader of urban fantasy but this one was so absorbing and has such an unforgettable main character – she has Borderline Personality Disorder and after a suicide attempt, lost her legs. I am impatiently waiting for book three to come out in 2018.

My Favourite Thing is Monsters Vol 1 – Emil Ferris

Each page of this graphic novel is mesmerizing but this is probably my favourite.

Cork Dork: A Wine-Fueled Adventure Among the Obsessive Sommeliers, Big Bottle Hunters, and Rogue Scientists Who Taught Me to Live for Taste – Bianca Bosker

Ridiculous long subtitle aside, this was a truly fun non-fiction read. And I learnt far more about the wine world and sommeliers than I expected.

 

The Soul of an Octopus – Sy Montgomery (audiobook)

Octopuses are truly fascinating creatures! I definitely fell in love with them after listening to this book.

The Harry Potter series on audiobook, read by Stephen Fry

This is the first time I’ve listened to the series and it’s also the kids’ introduction to Harry Potter (we just finished The Prisoner of Azkaban). And I love sharing this experience with my two boys! Also, Stephen Fry does an amazing job.

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

I love multigenerational family stories and this was a great one, a story of a Korean family living in Japan. It’s sad to learn about how these Koreans, who are born and have lived in Japan their whole lives, were (and still are) treated as foreigners and looked down on. A full-bodied book about belonging (and not belonging), full of sorrow and heartache and persistence.

#amonthoffaves2017 – most memorable reads

amonthoffaves

A Month of Faves is hosted by AndiTanya and Tamara

 

Wed. | Dec 20 – The Most Unique, Weird or Memorable Book(s) Read This Year #AMonthofFaves – books you did not finish, were super weird, characters you disliked, book award winners (from this year) you read and didn’t like, books you didn’t think you would like, but you did.

A book based on a video game (that I don’t play) that was surprisingly good

Injustice: Gods Among Us #1 (Injustice: Gods Among Us #1) – Tom Taylor (Goodreads Author), Jheremy Raapack (Illustrator)

 

A comic series which is really messed up and yet funny

Demon – Jason Shiga

(warning: it has to do with suicide)

A book with multiple possibilities and endings 

Jane, Unlimited – Kristin Cashore

 

A book full of goats (and also slavery)

Goat Days – Benyamin (my review)

 

What a title

Like a Mule Bringing Ice-Cream to the Sun – Sarah Ladipo Manyika

 

 

 

#amonthoffaves2017 I Love December

amonthoffavesA Month of Faves is hosted by AndiTanya and Tamara

Mon. | Dec 18 – I Love … December #AMonthofFaves – Rep your home’s holiday look, share pictures of your holiday decorations. Christmas tree, your favorite holiday traditions, holiday festivities, favorite ornaments, places to go, holiday drinks, holiday eats, holiday themed reads.

We put up our fake tree just after Thanksgiving – both my husband and I grew up in Singapore where you can’t find real trees (at least not when we’re growing up, as I hear that these days you can!) so we’re used to fake plastic trees…

We also take a stroll around this neighboring estate, a cul-de-sac in which every home is well decorated for Christmas. It’s really cute and fun to see how each house is decorated each year.

This year, some of my gifts are handmade. I made each of my boys a dinosaur hat and mittens for the younger one (who has outgrown his). The hat and scarf are for a friend overseas.

#amonthoffaves2017 -Best Changes

amonthoffaves

A Month of Faves is hosted by AndiTanya and Tamara

Fri. | Dec. 15 – Best Changes You Made To Tweak This Year #AMonthofFaves – best changes you made or routines you kept that to better organize your day / life; your = morning, evening or daily routines.

Ever since school started in September, mornings have been a rush-rush-rush affair. My older boy was in afternoon kindergarten last year so we didn’t have to join in with the morning traffic as school only started at 1130am. This school year though he goes from 830 to 250. I also drop off my 4yo at preschool, which is in the opposite direction of the elementary school. Long story short, after a few weeks I figured out a good route, learnt how to negotiate my way into the surrounding neighbourhood and while of course mornings are still rush-rush-rush, I think we’ve got a good routine going.

With a lot of after-school activities going on (Monday swim class; Tuesday tennis class; Wednesday evening math club for the 1st grader; Thursday piano class for the 1st grader), I make sure to get my meals prepped in the mornings. I don’t necessarily cook my meals ahead (although sometimes I do baked pastas and then pop it into the oven to bake when we get home) but I just make sure I know what I’m doing.

(Gah my life is just kinda boring)