Winter Rose and Ella Enchanted


There is something gnarled and bramble-y about Winter Rose. Patricia A McKillip dreamily draws out something deep, romantic and a little magical in her retelling of Tam Lin.

Rois, who looks nothing like a Rose, whose “skin is not fit for fairy tales” sees Corbet Lynn walk out of the light, a blur of gold:

“I turned, walked into the hot noon light, and saw him, with his pale gold hair and light-filled eyes, riding his horse the color of buttermilk across the green grass, as if he were human as the rest of us, not something that had stepped out of light into time. I could not move; I could not breathe. And then, as if he read my thoughts, his eyes met mine. Pale green seemed to melt through me, and I thought: How could they be any other color?”

Rois is obsessed with Corbet and his past – his grandfather was murdered by his own son and laid a wicked curse “You are the last of us and you will die the last: As many as you have, your children will never be your own”. So then who is Corbet Lynn and why does he appear in Rois’ intoxicating dreams?

Her language can be a tad flowery so it is not for everyone. But when I read her words, I hear this voice in my head, a whispery, echoey kind of voice, the kind of voice that sounds as if spoken in an ageing castle. The writer sits with a goblet of wine, a quill resting on the paper. A heavy rug is underfoot for it is the depths of winter and snow is ever so quietly falling outside. A fire is roaring and crackling, breaking the stillness.

Her book, her words are so very dreamy, I drift off into her dark world where curses are laid and enchantments are made. And it is difficult to emerge from her wintery world and into the bright sunshine, colourful toys around, decorations from the party still hanging, kids napping upstairs.


The Cinderella adaptation Ella Enchanted is such a very different read. Things move at a faster clip and the language is far simpler and less descriptive. It is still a rather entertaining story, at times a little silly (which would make its intended audience giggle – OK so I did too), and just such a fun read. I mean, how could a fairy’s blessing become such a pain?

Well it can if the blessing is obedience, leaving the poor child condemned to obey every order she’s given, even if it’s something as simple as “eat”.

A short but very satisfactory read with a strong-spirited and intelligent lead character and a refreshing retelling of the Cinderella tale.

At first I wondered if I had seen the movie version but then I realised it was the image of Drew Barrymore in Ever After that kept popping into my head – Anne Hathaway stars in Ella Enchanted so said the Internet. And the consensus (at least on Goodreads) seems to be that one should stay far away from the Ella Enchanted movie. I’ll be heeding that advice, but if you’ve watched it, was it really that bad?



Winter Rose and Ella Enchanted were my second and third reads for Once Upon A Time VIII.


Links for a sunny Wednesday



An actual review of some books I’ve read will be up soon. (Amazing huh!). But here are some links that I’ve been admiring recently:

Lisa at ANZ LitLovers has a great post on The Abandoned Book

Pooja at Notabilia points us to the online bookstores in Singapore

Love the artwork and story in this children’s picture book (via Bookriot)

There are just so many books to look out for in June says A Life in Books

If you haven’t yet checked them out, Shiny New Books has been plenty of reviews of books, both brand new and reprints. That TBR list of mine is growing…

A post on how one book blogger manages to read so much. I’m in awe!

If you live in California, it’s California Bookstore Day on May 3!


Food-wise, a great idea for spinach and red pepper bacon wrapped eggs from How Sweet Eats. Pretty!

I tend to be a tomato sauce kind of pasta person, but this Fettucine Alfredo from Nigel Slater that Kahakai Kitchen cooked up sounds simply delicious.

Wee Reader loves these Japanese biscuits called Tamago Boro (I didn’t know what they were called till today!), I’m not sure I’ll actually make them but it’s still a fun read.


Neither bookish nor foodish, but something that’s been on my mind for a while now. The kids sharing a room. Currently, Wee Reader sleeps in his own room. Wee-er Reader (turning one next week!) is in the loft. No door so we installed two sets of curtains to separate the loft from the corridor and the staircase. It was a bit drafty in the winter but luckily it was a warm winter. They both sleep great in separate rooms. But I’m wondering whether they should sleep in the same room. Can they sleep in the same room? Might work better when Wee Reader no longer needs an afternoon nap (he goes to bed from 2-4 everyday, but he doesn’t necessarily nap). But it sure is good to read others’ experiences!

It’s Monday and I’m a few pages into Tam Lin

itsmonday“It’s Monday! What are you reading?” is a weekly event hosted by Sheila at Bookjourney to share with others what we’ve read the past week and planning to read next.

Monday already?

The weekend was a blast! We took the kids to Happy Hollow, a park/zoo in San Jose. Wee Reader was just above the minimum height for quite a few of the rides so he happily went round and round on the swings, and the Granny Bugs, and sat on his first roller coaster! He of course didn’t want to leave but it was leaning towards naptime and the baby (who had the chance to sit a few rides himself, including the very awesome carousel which featured animals of all kinds like ostrich, giraffe, zebra, tiger, eagle!) was already dozing. On Sunday we went to Los Altos for some German food. We Reader decided he preferred my schnitzel to his potato pancakes and proceeded to devour a good chunk of it. My mum wasn’t impressed by the bratwurst she ordered but the potato salad and sauerkraut got a thumbs up. And they had Black Forest cake! We wandered around Palo Alto a bit, bought the kids books at Books Inc, an independent bookstore with 11 branches in California, and some edible treats. A pretty good weekend for all, with some very lovely weather.






You know, looking at this ghostly green-lit cover, I wasn’t quite expecting to open the book and find a girl settling into her new dorm on the first day of college. So I’m wondering where this is going!

(Plus there’s also the sad fact that I have no idea what the original Tam Lin story is and am relying on Wikipedia.)



Another Once Upon a Time read, one I had forgotten about while trying to finish The Song of the Lark (see below). And so had to renew. Apparently Overdrive e-books can be renewed now. Yay!




A pretty little Napoleon from Douce France located in Palo Alto.


Erm so we just got a Nespresso U, and I’m still marveling at how easy it is to use (didn’t expect to say that). I know it’s not the same as freshly ground beans and all that but I don’t think I would ever know how to use a proper espresso machine. And I live in the suburbs, so independent coffee shops are few and far between. This is a Starbucks and Peets town. Oh and McCafe too. So a Nespresso beats those options! We were in the Palo Alto area today and popped into the Nespresso boutique at Sur La Table (yup didn’t expect to say that either) to get a Nespresso welcome pack. Yeah, so that’s 200 capsules. Gonna last us a while.


There are some leftover sugar snap peas and cauliflower in the fridge. So for dinner, some sort of stirfry with beef. And a whole fish steamed with some ginger, a few slices of tomato, some preserved plum, white pepper, soy sauce. Would go better with cilantro but unfortunately there isn’t any. And of course some Jasmine rice.


Mad Men season 6 is finally on Netflix and I get to catch up with Peggy and her gang again. And be appalled by what Draper does.



Looking forward to:

Well, it’s something I’m not looking forward to… my mum is flying off this Sunday after nearly three months with us! She’s stopping over in Korea for a few days to sightsee before heading back home to Singapore. We will miss her so much!!!

Last week:

I read:

songlarkThe Song of the Lark – Willa Cather

Just such a beautiful book. I don’t know how else to describe it. It took me a while to read this book but it was a wonderful read about a young determined girl from a small Colorado town who discovers that she has a bit of a musical talent and on inheriting some money, moves to Chicago to home her talent. Thea’s intelligence and all-consuming passion for her art is fascinating, as is her relationship with the men in her life. This was one of the reading highlights of the past few months.


Winter Rose – Patricia A McKillip
I’m in the midst of writing a review. Although yeah I’ve still not written reviews of the other Once Upon a Time books I’ve read! But I loved it, from its cover to the wistful story.


Saga Vol 1 and 2 – Brian K Vaughan
Sadness filled my heart when I discovered that my library doesn’t have Volume 3 yet. Sigh.


What are you reading this week?


The Initiates: A Comic Artist and a Wine Artisan Exchange Jobs


Bande dessinée.

Perhaps that was my first ever inkling of how much the French enjoy their comic books/graphic novels.

That in my first few weeks of learning French in university the term ‘Bande dessinée.’ was introduced. I’ve also taken some basic Spanish and Italian classes (yeah I lack commitment) and do not recall learning the terms for comics/graphic novels  in those languages. I was forced to learn Chinese for years in Singapore (from first grade through to our equivalent of high school) so I do sort of know that 漫画 manhua is the term – although I had to google it cos I forgot!. But bande dessinee. It is a term I remember. And not just because my teacher was a cute young Frenchman.

I’ve read some French (translated into English that is – my knowledge of French is way too basic) graphic novels like The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec by Jacques Tardi, Epileptic by David B, and of course Tintin and Asterix ! Plus, did you know that Marjane Sartrapi’s Persepolis was published in France before it was translated into English (she lives in Paris)? But it was only in The Initiates that I understood how wonderful the variety of graphic novels in France is – and wished that more of them were translated into English.

The book’s premise is simple: a winemaker (Richard Leroy – an actual real-life winemaker who makes chenin blanc and is apparently very respected in the field) teaches a comic artist (Davodeau) about wine-making and vice-versa. Davodeau tags along as Leroy prunes his vines, ploughs the fields, works the harvest through the year, and lovingly nurtures his vineyard. And of course, the two of them drink plenty of wine in an attempt to hone his palate. Leroy on the other hand reads up on graphic novels (an extensive list of both the comics read and the wines drunk is thoughtfully provided at the end of the book) although some put him to sleep, visits Davodeau’s publishing company, attends the French version of Comic Con, and meets other comic artists.

But the best part about this book were the conversations about wine and comics, usually over a long meal complete with wine (and some of the best parts were when Leroy peruses the wine list and tells the waiter “I’ll have water”, perhaps the ultimate insult from a winemaker!).

The tones are muted, the mood generally quiet (nothing terribly exciting going on here), and when I first began this book, I was a little worried that this would be like an instruction manual, that we would learn this this and that about winemaking, and here, this is how a comic artist works. But it is in no way like that at all. It is informative, sure, but it is also thought-provoking. Not just about the art of comics and winemaking, but on the meeting of diverse people and having conversations about books and wine. It helps that Leroy is a bit of an eccentric character, and the two of them have a great friendship.

Davodeau said in this interview with Comic Book Resources that he and Leroy had been friends for a few years when Davodeau learnt that Leroy, at age 50,  had not read a comic book before and proposed this idea.

I’m just so very glad that Davodeau and Leroy got together, and that Davodeau took notes and sat down and illustrated and wrote this fantastic book. It was two years of hard work, both in the vineyard and in his studio. It makes the reader want to sit down and read more graphic novels, preferably with a lovely glass of wine.

And so it’s a perfect Weekend Cooking book! Conversations about winemaking and books!





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


Library Loot (April 11 2014)

badge-4Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Linda from Silly Little Mischief that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library.

My library loots these days are mostly picture and board books. I did get quite a few books for myself last week but forgot to post! Anyway, just two real books for me and one e-book, while I try to finish previous weeks’ loots! The baby didn’t get much of a morning nap and was falling asleep in the stroller, so we made it a real quick one (well as quick as one can with a toddler trying to look at everything – he’s always intrigued by the computers and by the new cushioned stools that are shaped as jigsaw pieces. Then there are the windows to look out, and other kids to stare at. And the wooden puzzles laid out on the tables in the kids section. Of course on the way home, the baby fell asleep in the car…


Huntress- Malinda Lo


Nature is out of balance in the human world. The sun hasn’t shone in years, and crops are failing. Worse yet, strange and hostile creatures have begun to appear. The people’s survival hangs in the balance.

To solve the crisis, the oracle stones are cast, and Kaede and Taisin, two seventeen-year-old girls, are picked to go on a dangerous and unheard-of journey to Tanlili, the city of the Fairy Queen. Taisin is a sage, thrumming with magic, and Kaede is of the earth, without a speck of the otherworldly. And yet the two girls’ destinies are drawn together during the mission. As members of their party succumb to unearthly attacks and fairy tricks, the two come to rely on each other and even begin to fall in love. But the Kingdom needs only one huntress to save it, and what it takes could tear Kaede and Taisin apart forever.

Fairy Tales – E.E. Cummings

I’ve been looking for fairy tales to read to the kids

Hans Christian Andersen was the profoundly imaginative writer and storyteller who revolutionized literature for children. He gave us the now standard versions of some traditional fairy tales—with an anarchic twist—but many of his most famous tales sprang directly from his imagination.

The thirty stories here range from exuberant early works such as “The Tinderbox” and “The Emperor’s New Clothes” through poignant masterpieces such as “The Little Mermaid” and “The Ugly Duckling,” to more subversive later tales such as “The Ice maiden” and “The Wood Nymph.”

An e-book:

The Centaur – John Updike


The Centaur is a modern retelling of the legend of Chiron, the noblest and wisest of the centaurs, who, painfully wounded yet unable to die, gave up his immortality on behalf of Prometheus. In the retelling, Olympus becomes small-town Olinger High School; Chiron is George Caldwell, a science teacher there; and Prometheus is Caldwell’s fifteen-year-old son, Peter. Brilliantly conflating the author’s remembered past with tales from Greek mythology, John Updike translates Chiron’s agonized search for relief into the incidents and accidents of three winter days spent in rural Pennsylvania in 1947. The result, said the judges of the National Book Award, is “a courageous and brilliant account of a conflict in gifts between an inarticulate American father and his highly articulate son.”

Kids’ loot:

A Stitch in Time by Penelope Lively


I’m not quite sure why A Stitch in Time was among my bookshelves as a child. As I think back now, I recall a cover with an ammonite, a hint of a beach (or a cliff?) and a girl. But I’ve googled book covers and have yet to find anything resemble what I remember. Perhaps I made it up. But I do have this recollection of a pale sort of cover, not the sort of the book that would attract a child.

As I read the book today, decidedly not a child, I wonder who bought this book for us. Who thought of it? A Penelope Lively reader? One of my aunts, now estranged, was quite the reader, we used to hang out in her attic room on Sundays when my cousins, my sister and I went over for dinner with the grandparents (she always chased us out) and I would browse her shelves – perhaps it was her? Or was it just a bargain book at a sale? I ask my mother but she doesn’t remember the book.

While I faintly recollect possessing this book, and reading some of it (did I ever finish reading it?), it was not among my favourites. I read and reread Ballet Shoes and the other Noel Steatfeild books we owned like White Boots, Apple Bough, and Curtain Up. The Narnia series, the Black Cauldron series, and Enid Blyton’s books like Willow Farm and the Faraway Tree. Then when I was about 11 or 12, Christopher Pike was the thing to read. Chain Letter!. Ugh.

Today I have this faint thrill that I actually read – and owned – a Penelope Lively book when I was a child. Although now I worry that it has been given away, or horrors!, thrown away.

It’s a book in which nothing very much happens, a book that wouldn’t really attract many children.

Maria Foster and her parents are heading to the seaside for a holiday, staying in an old Victorian house in Lyme Regis. Maria is a quiet, introverted type of child with distant parents who seem to not quite know what to do with her or any other children. She’s an observant young girl, who prefers to make conversation with things:

“Animals frequently. Trees and plants, from time to time. Sometimes what they said was consoling, and sometimes it was uncomfortable, but at least you were having a conversation.”

She meets Martin, who is staying with his family next door, also on holiday. Martin’s family is of the rambunctious kind, and Maria is hesitant at first, but finds a lot in common with the watchful boy, who is keen on museum-going and bird-watching. The kind of kid who knows the names of trees and birds. Her first real friend.

There is a minute element of fantasy in this book. First, when we learn of the conversations Maria has, I wondered if that was like her superhero power of sorts, her special ability. Then when she hears these odd sounds around the house – a dog barking although there is no dog around, a creak of a swing in the wind – there is a hint of something otherworldly, a connection with a time long past. But this is not the kind of book where children enter cupboards and find themselves in a chilly wintery world, not that kind of fantasy. It is a far quieter kind of read, no dragons or talking animals, no witches or sword fights.

It is a book that is rooted in Maria and growing up, and her learning to separate reality from imagination, and discovering that other children and other people can be interesting too.


So while it is not strictly a fantasy or a fairy tale story, A Stitch in Time feels very much like it would belong in the Once Upon a Time realm. And not just because they both have the word ‘time’ in them. But because there’s this sort of dreaminess about it, about Maria. While she doesn’t spend her holiday with her nose in a book, she does a lot of gazing at the cliffs and the sea, hiding in trees, listening and watching for sounds that may be imaginary or real, it’s not quite certain.

Reading this book today, I am constantly tickled by Penelope Lively’s portrayal of adults. Maria’s parents don’t quite seem to know what to do with her most of the time, but when Martin and his siblings are thrown into their lap for a day, they more or less throw their hands into the air and call a retreat. Worse still is when their mother returns to pick them up:

“What a relief it was, she said, to see that they had been so good and quiet, and now she knew that they could behave themselves if they wanted to (at this point Mr Foster began to say something and then didn’t but went rather quickly out into the garden instead) she wouldn’t feel bad about pushing them over again another time… (at this point Mrs Foster opened her mouth to speak and then somehow managed not to).”

I wouldn’t go so far as to call this a cautionary tale but it is a tale about a reserved youngling growing up and learning that the real world is worth braving, that while the imaginary, the conversations with the objects and trees and animals are all well and good, other children and other people – even one’s parents – can surprise and delight and converse.

A Stitch in Time
is such an enchanting little book. I wish I had treasured it more as a child.



It’s Monday and I’m starting on Brian K Vaughan’s Saga and still recovering from the weekend!

We’ve had a busy week that culminated in a joint birthday party for the 3-year-old and the almost-one. They’re birthdays are about a month apart and it just seemed easier to do one, although I wondered at first if a first birthday ought to be celebrated on its own. It’s a first birthday after all! But I succumbed to laziness (and the fact that baby didn’t have baby friends) and did a joint one. Both of them had fun which was what mattered. And so did the other kids. The older one was initially in a grumpy mood when other people played with his new toys but he soon joined in the fun (he’s the more reticent type and takes ages to warm up to people) and was super thrilled at playing with his water table again (it was warm enough a day for a backyard party hooray!). He was so very happy when it was cake time especially since he got to help didi (Chinese for ‘little brother’) blow out his single candle. The baby, my ever cheerful, always smiling one, bounced in the chair with a massive grin on his face when it was his turn at the birthday song, tried to grab the knife, and thoroughly enjoyed his first taste of cake (mango mousse!). There was chocolate frosting on the carpet and tons of things to clean up after. My backyard was soapy with dish detergent but lots of giant bubbles were blown, stomachs were all full of sweet things. There were smiles and laughter and all kinds of chit chat. In other words, a good sort of party.


(One of the cakes was home made, the other wasn’t – it’s pretty obvious which is which!)





The Photographer - Emmanuel Guibert, Didier Lefèvre, Fréderic Lemercier

After reading the absolutely wonderful The Initiates, I had to read The Photographer.
Saga Vol 1 – Brian Vaughan, Fiona Staples

Just started on it but thoroughly enjoying it so far.


Winter Rose – Patricia A McKillip



I just had a piece (ok one piece each!) of birthday cake!


An Arnold Palmer. Good for the warm weather we’re having today!


It’s a warm Sunday, our patio furniture is all nice and clean and so is the backyard, so we’re having a barbecue later! Steak, sausages and asparagus.


We just watched The Secret Life of Walter Mitty over the weekend. The husband watched it on the plane to Singapore and he encouraged me to see it despite my disinterest in Ben Stiller. It was one very pretty film – it sure makes the viewer want to travel to Iceland! Otherwise I’ve been watching Man Men on instant Netflix as they finally have a new season out.

Looking forward to:

More warm weather!

Last week:

I read:
Darwin’s radio – Greg Bear
Intense. Lots of scientific information and terms. Very intense. But also pretty interesting.

Ella Enchanted – Gail Carson Levine
Lots of fun. I think I might have watched the movie version a long time ago.


Hope you have a fantastic reading week ahead!

TLC Book Tours: The Idea of Him by Holly Peterson

The Idea of Him

The Idea of Him is the story of Allie Crawford, a successful public relations exec, mother of two, wife to high-flying magazine editor Wade. Her life sounds perfect.

But is it?

At a party, she finds her handsome husband in the laundry room with a gorgeous leggy young woman, and her imagination jumps to that one obvious answer. But the truth isn’t quite what she’s expecting.

And she’s had it with carrying the lion’s share of the child-rearing, despite her own very busy schedule and demanding boss. She’s had to put up with helping host her husband’s parties. Plus she’s struggling with her dreams of making it as a screenwriter, taking classes at New York University, but with everything that’s going on, it’s hard to find time and clear her head to write. And her handsome screenwriting classmate Tommy is somewhat of a distraction…

Many women will be able to relate to Allie. Her busy life, her wanting to do more with her life, her frustrations with her job and her marriage. A backstory involving her father intrigues as it is introduced right at the beginning, but it never seemed fully realised for me, and made me wonder why it was given such a key place in the story.

The other characters seem to be more of caricatures, supersized personalities. Her loud-mouthed boss Murray with his trophy wife. Her glamorous husband Wade with his focus on his work and his dabblings on the side. The male characters were rather unlikeable, and I wondered if that was the intention.

I didn’t feel much of a connection with the characters. A little with Allie at first, as she tries to manage her family, her work life and her dreams, and the fears she has about her husband, but as the story progressed, and I learnt of some of the choices she made, I felt the distance between us widening. The uneven flow of the story didn’t really make an easy read either.

The Idea of Him wasn’t the book for me.


Holly Peterson is the author of the New York Times bestseller The Manny. She was a contributing editor for Newsweek and editor-at-large for Talk magazine. She was also an Emmy Award-winning producer for ABC News for more than a decade, where she covered global politics. Her writing has been published in the New York Times, Newsweek, Talk, the Daily Beast, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and other publications.

Find out more about Holly at her website, connect with her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter.

tlc logo

I received this book from its publisher and TLC Book Tours 

Check out the other stops on the tour

Tuesday, April 1st: cupcake’s book cupboard

Wednesday, April 2nd: Mom in Love With Fiction

Thursday, April 3rd: bookchickdi

Friday, April 4th: BookNAround

Monday, April 7th: Olduvai Reads

Tuesday, April 8th: Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews

Wednesday, April 9th: Good Girl Gone Redneck

Thursday, April 10th: Always With a Book

Monday, April 14th: Anita Loves Books

Tuesday, April 15th: Luxury Reading

Wednesday, April 16th: Staircase Wit

Thursday, April 17th: Patricia’s Wisdom

Friday, April 18th: From L.A. to LA

Monday, April 21st: The many thoughts of a reader

Tuesday, April 22nd: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Wednesday, April 23rd: Teresa’s Reading Corner

Thursday, April 24th: A Chick Who Reads

Monday, April 28th: Sara’s Organized Chaos

Tuesday, April 29th: Book-alicious Mama (Q&A only)

Tuesday, April 29th: Drey’s Library

Wednesday, April 30th: Seaside Book Nook


On reading fairy tales for Once Upon A Time

It’s Once Upon a Time season again and I’ve been submerged in fairy tales of all sorts, coming up for air only when necessary.

Ok ok, in reality though, it’s more like I’ve been sneaking reads on my Kindle or tablet or an actual paper book (a bit harder with a baby) whenever I can. It’s always hard reading with two kids around. Today for example, the baby took more than half an hour of patting and fussing, picking-up-ing and putting-down-ing before he fell asleep for his morning nap. He usually drops off by himself within a few minutes so I’m not sure what’s happening. Teething maybe, growth spurt? Only he knows. And he can’t tell me anything. He sure likes to point though.

And then there’s the blogging thing. I’m at the laptop in the kitchen, typing furiously away while the 3yo reads his birthday books with Grandma (thank goodness for visiting grandparents!). But should I be spending the time reading instead of writing? It’s a toss up!

So anyway I’ve been leaning towards fairy tales or fairy tale adaptations this Once Upon a Time.

But as I ponder my selection, I realize that they are largely stories set in the western world (made up worlds, yes, but with a tendency towards the west more than the east). Where characters are fair of face and all that (although not fair of hair, it seems from the covers of the books I’ve been considering). Where are the tales of Asia among my reads? I’ve searched the catalogues of my library system but nothing comes up (and we have a decently diverse collection, with quite a few books written in other languages like Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean).

We are of Chinese descent by way of Singapore, and as we live in the San Francisco Bay Area, far from our own beginnings, I want my children to know where they come from. I don’t just mean knowing their grandparents and other relatives, but their traditions and customs, and the stories they are told. So I try to include books that are written by Asian writers and feature Asian people in my kids’ library loot. They aren’t the easiest thing to find but we have found some favourites like Anastasia Suen, Wong Herbert Yee and Roseanne Thong. But when it comes to nursery rhymes, folk and fairy tales, or delving into history whether fictional or non, the options are fewer. Maybe if we were in Singapore, or if I could find more books written in Chinese, there might be more choices.

I think back to my own childhood and realise that in some way, I did know about these Chinese tales. Perhaps there were mentions in school textbooks? There was a popular Chinese TV adaptation of Journey to the West (a Chinese classic that I’ve never read) that I remember watching. But were these fairy tales? Not really. Are there actually such things are Chinese fairy tales (what really does the term ‘fairy tale’ mean?)? All of these stories that I remember seem to be of gods and goddesses, deities and demons. Mythology might be a better word for it. Folktales? I think I need a crash course on all these terms.

But when I was growing up in Singapore, among our shelves of books written by and about the western world, there was a collection of Chinese myths. It was a large hardcover book with stories and pictures. There were tales of Nezha and Pan Gu.


But the one tale I always remember is that of the cow herder and the weaver girl. A tale that is still celebrated as a festival today. A romantic tale of forbidden love. The zhinu (织女) or weaver girl is actually the daughter of a goddess, who comes down from heaven in search of fun, and falls for this cow herder or niu lang (牛郎). The goddess finds out and orders her daughter back to heaven. The cow herder follows her but the goddess draws a line across the sky, the Milky Way, separating the two lovers forever. Once a year though, the crows (or is it magpies?) fly up to the sky and form a bridge for them to meet. Awww, it’s a bittersweet tale that is celebrated as kind of like a Chinese Valentine’s Day in China. In Singapore though, it is the 15th day of the Lunar New Year (Chap Goh Meh) that is seen as the Chinese Valentine’s Day, and coincidentally, it fell on February 14 this year, resulting in a flurry of weddings and hotels all being booked up.

I’ll have to wait for my next visit to Singapore to figure out if that book is still in my parents’ house. I asked my mum about it and she has no recollection of that book at all. It’s not a figment of my imagination. At least I don’t think so. If a book that you remember from your childhood is no longer among your collection and you’re the only one that remembers it, did it ever exist?

My search for Chinese folktales/fairytales/myths continues.



It’s Monday and we’re having cake and presents!


itsmonday“It’s Monday! What are you reading?” is a weekly event hosted by Sheila at Bookjourney to share with others what we’ve read the past week and planning to read next.

Happy Birthday Wee Reader! My little big boy is three. I can hardly believe it. I’m writing this on Sunday afternoon, but he’s been talking up his birthday for ages. And he’s already gotten one present ahead of time – a scooter from his grandparents (a very excellent Mini Micro in case you’re in the market). He’s been happily figuring out how to push himself around in the house, and pretty soon we’ll be taking him to the playground to scooter around (it’s been raining). He’s also the proud owner of a Bell helmet with race cars on them. He’s so very excited. His other set of grandparents have gotten him a bike but shhh don’t tell. And we got him several things, a fire truck jigsaw puzzle, a couple of picture books, a new set of pyjamas, a Lego Junior set (he’s been playing with Lego Duplo thus far)! They all have something to do with vehicles! And I’m making an airplane cake!

Happy Birthday to my boy, who seems quiet and serious when he’s with others but is noisy and rowdy at home, who loves to be read to at naptime and bedtime and really, any time. Who is best at making his baby brother laugh and laugh. Who likes to be tickled. Whose favourite store, he always declares, is Target because “Target HAS TOYS!”. Who charges up and around the playground and down the slides and again and again and again. Whose favourite show is now Daniel Tiger (the show made him decide to like oatmeal again), but he really really wants to watch the Cars movie. Who likes to declare that he will “do things all by myself”, like washing his hands and putting on his jacket. Who often talks about what he will have for breakfast the next day as we get ready for bed. Who loves to help Mummy bake, especially when he gets to put on his very own little apron (made by Grandma) and use the Wee Reader-sized rolling pin from Daiso. To a little boy who is changing and growing and surprising us all every day with the things he says and does, who frustrates us and amazes us, who allows me to view the world from a different perspective everyday, all my love on his third birthday.





Ella Enchanted – Gail Carson Levine

For Once Upon a Time VIII


The Initiates: a comic artist and a wine artisan exchange jobs – Etienne Davodeau

It was both odd and intriguing a premise, but I’m really enjoying this graphic novel.



A slice of apple pie from the Niles Pie Company


A hot Milo made with some condensed milk. Yeah milky chocolatey sweet goodness.


Nothing today! Woohoo! We’re having leftovers! I made lasagna yesterday and we have plenty to eat today.


The Fall on Netflix. I’m not really a fan of Gillian Anderson but this was such a truly awesome show. It’s not for the fainthearted, focusing on the investigation into a serial killer whose victims are young women, but it is powerful. It is a show that I wanted to binge watch but knew that if I did I could never sleep. The actor playing the serial killer was just absolutely brilliant, and so utterly convincing in his role (devoted family man by day, serial killer by night). I seldom gush about TV shows but I’m going to have to highly recommend this show.

Looking forward to:

Picking the husband up at the airport on Tuesday

Last week:

I read:

A stitch in time – Penelope Lively

Oh I adored this book. I adored it so much I’m actually sitting down to write about this. Erm soon. I promise.




Delicious! – Ruth Reichl

For an upcoming book tour.


Cart and Cwidder – Diana Wynne Jones

For Once Upon a Time VIII, review to come


Homecoming – Cynthia Voigt

I fell in love with the Tillermans, I couldn’t help it. I can’t wait to hear what else they get up to!


What are you reading this week?