It’s Monday and I’m reading Flavia de Luce

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.

 

Last week…

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Wee Reader and I made baking powder biscuits!

 

 

 

 

 

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Bought Halloween buckets

 

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Played ‘construction site’ in a bin full of soy beans, rice and lentils

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Ate persimmon after persimmon. Thanks to a generous friend and her bountiful tree!

 

 

Currently…

It’s Sunday morning and it’s a bit chilly. It actually is starting to feel like fall in the Bay Area. We had a rather cloudy and drizzly Saturday and as we are in a drought it’s so very nice to see rain, even if it’s just a splattering.

 

Reading:

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The Dead in their Vaulted Arches (Flavia de Luce #6) – Alan Bradley
Bradley left us with quite the cliffhanger in the previous book. So I was wanting to see what he made of that.

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The Hand that First Held Mine – Maggie O’Farrell

Bought this a few months ago and am finally reading it! I first read Maggie O’Farrell in 2011 (my thoughts on her debut After You’d Gone) and thought wow I must read more of her books. Of course it has only taken me three years to get to another of hers. I’m enjoying it so far!

 

 

Watching:

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Ok so I paused on The Walking Dead because I was at that episode where the Governor reappeared (boo!!). Funny how I can stomach the blood and gore of zombies but not this man. I’m sure something major is going to happen but to be honest, I don’t feel ready to watch it yet. I need to brace myself, to steel myself before I can watch this now! I decided to go for something happier and watched Gilmore Girls instead (for the zillionth time).

Listening:
This jazzy Japanese music I found on a Spotify playlist

Eating:
A walnut-filled brownie from Whole Foods which the Husband insisted on buying (and to which I didn’t say no). I miss adding nuts to baked goods! We don’t do that at home because of Wee Reader’s nut allergy – and are very careful when eating anything with nuts at home.

Drinking:
Jasmine tea

Cooking:
I’m thinking of prepping ahead a kale-broccoli-chicken-cheese-rice/pasta bake that I can pop in the oven on Monday evening for dinner, taking this Smitten Kitchen recipe as inspiration. I wish I could use wild rice but the kids won’t eat it! And while the oven is on, bake some sweet potatoes for the kids’ lunches.
Other things to cook this week:
– chicken wings braised in a soy and oyster sauce marinade (here’s a recipe similar to what I’m cooking, although mine is alcohol-free), to be eaten with stirfried sugar snap peas and carrots and served with steamed Jasmine rice
– I’ll cook extra rice and make fried rice another day, probably with Chinese sausage (lapcheong), broccoli and whatever vegetables lying around.
– panko-crusted pork chops with Brussels sprouts and either couscous or that Harvest Grains mix from Trader Joe’s

Last week…

I read:

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Strangers in Paradise #4 – Terry Moore

There are still two more books to go. Then I’ll sit down and try to write something up about this series. I wasn’t sure I would like it when I began (partly because of these covers that seem to give the wrong impression) but I feel so vested in the story now!

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The Iron Ring – Lloyd Alexander

Hmmm there were so very many characters in this book that sometimes I got confused. But I liked the story, about a young king in India who sets out on a journey to regain his honor, and meets many people and animals whom he helps and who help him in return. Interestingly, it was published in 1997 although it feels very much older than that.

 

I posted:

       Weekend Cooking and Cook it up: Japchae and Kimchi Chronicles     

       Bloodchild and other stories by Octavia Butler     

 

What are you reading this week?

Weekend Cooking and Cook it up: Japchae and Kimchi Chronicles

As a stay-home mum with two littles, I try to do as much home cooking as I can. We do our fair share of eating out, especially on weekends when we hit our favourite Japanese/Korean/Chinese/diner spots (and ok ok, sometimes fried chicken or pizza or burgers!), but on weekdays, it’s mostly about cobbling together stuff at home. On Sundays, I attempt one big make-ahead meal, and it’s usually a baked pasta or baked rice dish which I put together then bung in the oven on Monday evenings – then eat the leftovers for lunches etc. But there’s only so many days that we can chow down on something cheesy (at least I can’t – the 3.5yo on the other hand could eat that everyday). Plus it seems like my littler one has more of an Asian palate! He’s a rice and noodle lover that one.

So there are some Sundays where I turn to japchae. It’s a Korean dish that uses noodles made from sweet potato starch. The best part is that it is usually served at room temperature and also makes great leftovers. And it is easily customizable with your favourite vegetables and meats, or whatever you have in the kitchen.

We first encountered Japchae at a Korean restaurant in San Jose. I was surprised by how much my kids love Korean food, especially the 1.5-year-old. At our favorite Korean restaurant, they always bring out soup specially for the kids, which has tofu and daikon simmered in the (so very tasty) broth. And with all the banchan (side dishes) that they lay out on the table in little dishes before the main courses arrive, the kids have plenty to eat. One of the banchan that’s popular with my two is japchae. We always ask for a second helping! Our usual order is: seafood pancake, bulgogi, acorn noodles (it’s a cold noodle dish with plenty of vegetables) and sometimes the dumplings. That makes for plenty of leftovers for the next day!

I haven’t dabbled much in Korean cooking. Bibimbap, Bulgogi and Japchae are all I’ve done so far.

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Google ‘japchae’ and you’ll find plenty of recipes online like this one from Maangchi. But I decided to cook it after browsing through The Kimchi Chronicles by Marja Vongerichten. I hadn’t heard of her or the book – or the TV series – before my Mum bought this book. In case that last name looks familiar, her husband is Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Marja is half-Korean, adopted by an American family when she was a child.

Her book has some rather interesting cross-cultural ideas, like hotdogs with kimchi relish, grilled Korean lobster rolls with scallion mayonnaise. And quite a few of the recipes are by her husband, some by their chef friends like Mark Bitttman and David Chang.

Her Japchae recipe is also a slightly different version from those I’ve seen online, adding asparagus, snow peas and fava beans. I didn’t have those vegetables at hand, but when I do, I might add those in next time. I especially like the sound of fava beans. Her recipe also includes honey which I didn’t add, as most Japchae recipes don’t contain honey and I don’t think it needs to be sweetened.

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I cooked my noodles with baby spinach, julienned carrots, sliced mushrooms, green onions. And served it with soy sauce-marinated pork chops cooked separately. You could cook thinly sliced meat together with the noodles.

One tip for the noodles – after you parboil them and drain them, add enough sesame oil so that it won’t stick.

 

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(Here’s what the noodles look like – big packets of usually three or four bunches of noodles. Each bunch serves about 4 people. I reckon that mung bean noodles/glass noodles/tunghoon would make a decent substitute)

 Some of Vongerichten’s recipes are available online here. But I’ve got my eye on a few that I might try soon, like the Braised Short Ribs with Pumpkin, Barbecued Chicken with Sweet Barbecue Sauce (the sauce includes gochujang and Korean citron marmalade). And oh, I don’t quite dare but am intrigued by the Kimchi Mary (?!!) – the Korean version of Bloody Mary with fish sauce and kimchi liquid!

Kimchi Chronicles isn’t a traditional Korean cookbook (it does after all say “for an American Kitchen”). It’s got some interesting ideas and is a pretty good introduction if you’ve never tried cooking Korean food before.

(Here are lists of Korean cookbooks in English – I’ve not read any others so I can’t suggest any! Usually I just check Maangchi)

Kimchi Chronicles’ Japchae recipe 

1 pound japchae noodles (made from sweet potato, also labeled as dangmyeon) or cellophane noodles
3 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil, plus extra for drizzling
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. roasted sesame seeds
4 large garlic cloves, minced
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 small onion, finely diced
3 bell peppers, preferably red, yellow and orange, slivered
1 large carrot, cut into strips
1/2 pound thin asparagus, halved lengthwise
1 cup snow peas, halved lengthwise
1/2 cup thawed frozen peeled fava beans (see note)
1 small handful thin green beans or haricots verts
3 cups baby spinach leaves

Boil the noodles according to package directions. Drain and drizzle with a little sesame oil and set aside.

Whisk together the soy sauce, honey, sesame seeds, and half the garlic in a small bowl. Set the sesame-garlic sauce aside.

Heat 1 1/2 Tbsp. each of sesame oil and olive oil in a large wok over high heat. Add the mushrooms, onion, and the remaining garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until browned and softened, about 4 minutes. Transfer the mushroom mixture to a plate and drizzle with a bit of sesame oil.

Add another 1 1/2 Tbsp. each of sesame oil and olive oil to the wok and add the bell peppers and carrot. Cook, stirring constantly, until beginning to soften, about 2 minutes. Add the asparagus, snap peas, fava beans, and green beans and cook until all the vegetables are just barely cooked through, about 2 minutes.

Add the reserved sesame-garlic sauce, the noodles, mushrooms, and pea shoots or spinach and stir just until the greens wilt, about 30 seconds. Serve hot or at room temperature. Serves 4.

Note: You can substitute 1/2 cup fresh fava beans that have been blanched and peeled; you’ll need 1/2 pound fava bean pods to get 1/2 cup beans.

weekendcooking

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
cookitup

 

 

 

Bloodchild and other stories by Octavia Butler

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What a great collection of stories this is!

I was at first surprised when there was an afterword after each story. Then as I read through each afterword, after each story, I wished that more short story collections including such afterwords.

“But I’m still glad to be able to talk a little about what I do put into my work, and what it means to me.”

In her afterword to The Evening and the Morning and the Night, a story which focuses on a disease, Butler describes her interest in biology and how she built this fictional disease from three genetic disorders, and even offers a reading list.

My favourite story is probably Speech Sounds, set in a world where a virus has taken away language, although it has affected people differently. A woman, Rye, can no longer read and write: “She had a houseful of books that she could neither read nor bring herself to use as fuel. And she had a memory that would not bring back to her much of what had read before.” She meets a man who cannot speak or comprehend spoken language:

“The illness had played with them, taking away, she suspected, what each valued most.”

While it was a rather satisfactory ending, of sorts, I think I wanted so much for this story to continue, for it to not be a short story, to know what will happen to Rye, to this world without language. Perhaps it moved me so because I cannot fathom the thought of not being able to read, to know that these symbols, these letters have meaning but to never be able to put them together. For all the horror books I’ve read this RIP season, this one might just be the one to really hit me hard, to hit me where it hurts.

(Later, I learnt that Octavia Butler was dyslexic. And maybe this short story stemmed from that?)

And it was a surprise to read about Butler’s humble beginnings, her early desire to be a writer, despite people like her aunt telling her that African-Americans couldn’t be writers.

“In all my thirteen years, I had never read a printed word that I knew to have been written by a Black person.”

I am so very glad that she persevered. That she kept writing, that she kept submitting, that she never gave up despite what others told her.

 

Bibliography

Series
Patternist series
Patternmaster (1976)
Mind of My Mind (1977)
Survivor (1978)
Wild Seed (1980)
Clay’s Ark (1984)
Seed to Harvest (2007, omnibus excluding Survivor)

Xenogenesis series
Dawn (1987)
Adulthood Rites (1988)
Imago (1989)
(Lilith’s Brood (2000), omnibus of the Xenogenesis trilogy)

Parable Series
Parable of the Sower (1993) (my review)
Parable of the Talents (1998)

Standalone novels
Kindred (1979) (my review)
Fledgling (2005)

Short stories
Bloodchild and Other Stories (1995); Second edition with additional stories (2006)
Unexpected Stories (2014, includes novellas “A Necessary Being” and “Childfinder”)
 

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I read this book for RIP IX

Library Loot (October 18 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.

 

These books were borrowed from two different libraries on Friday and Saturday. This other little library, a bit further from our house, has a Friday morning storytime session and more importantly, a playground right outside! And the train tracks are not too far so the kids can watch the trains from the playground. Its selection of books and puzzles is smaller, and so is the carpark. So we don’t really go that often. But it’s nice to mix up our routine once in a while.

I didn’t get anything from the library, as I had already downloaded quite a few e-books for the readathon! Plus Drood is still hanging around my house, it’s the thing that goes THUMP in the night.

The kids’ loot:

It’s Monday and I’m reading The Paying Guests

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.

I usually write up these Monday posts on Sundays, but didn’t manage to yesterday. Too busy! So while the kids chatter to themselves upstairs (the sleeping in the same room has gone well aside from the first couple of nights! Hooray!), I’m trying to whack out a post!

Here’s what I was up to on Saturday – The Read-a-thon!

Sunday was about meeting up with a friend for lunch, doing a quick supermarket run, and cooking Monday’s dinner ahead of time – I made some soy-sauce marinated pork chops, to be eaten with the Korean sweet potato noodles japchae (here’s one recipe)

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Currently….

 

Reading:

 

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The Paying Guests – Sarah Waters

I started this in the last couple of hours that I was awake for during the readathon, but didn’t manage to pick it up again yet! Later tonight I hope!

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Drood – Dan Simmons

(Yes, still)

 

Watching:

 

The Good Wife Season 5. I love Diane and Eli! They are the reasons I watch this show!

Listening:

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Lisa Hannigan – Sea Sew

An Irish singer who started out as a member of Damien Rice’s band

Eating:

 

IMG_3214.JPGMy breakfast this morning was a Hawaiian bun and a dorayaki filled with a black sesame paste, which we picked up at Mitsuwa (a Japanese supermarket) in San Jose yesterday. This dorayaki is a pancake folded over the paste and it’s so soft and eggy! Yum. (Apparently Mitsuwa has brought these dorayaki makers from Japan into the US before, check out this post for someone else’s pictures and details)

Drinking:

I had a milky black tea earlier, and just water for now. But later, some coffee!

Last week:

I read:
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My Year of Meats – Ruth Ozeki
Just finished it last night, but wow.

 

 

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Broken (Women of the otherworld #6) – Kelley Armstrong
This series is a quick read which I sometimes use to break a reading rut or when I just need something not too heavy.

Strangers in Paradise #2 – Terry Moore
Anna and the French Kiss – Stephanie Perkins
The Lady Astronaut of Mars – Mary Robinette Kowal

Read during the Read-a-thon

 

What are you reading this week?

Dewey’s 24-Hour Read-a-thon: The End!

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Wow! What a day! What a day! We made it!

This was my second read-a-thon and it was such fun. I think I enjoyed it more than my first, where I was, to be honest, rather overwhelmed by everything (readathoning with two littles?!??!). This time around was technically tougher, as the husband was out most of the morning and working from home the rest of the day, so it was up to me to do most of the parenting! Luckily the Read-a-thon magic worked! The kids played together now and then (there were still the usual fights over the same toy to sort out), and they both had naps!! I can’t believe it either!!!! We even went out for lunch, dropped by the library, and I cobbled together something for dinner! And still managed to read and drop by some blogs! Hurrah!

Here’s what I read:

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The Lady Astronaut of Mars – Mary Robinette Kowal (an e-book novelette at just 19 pages)

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Strangers in Paradise pocket book 2 – Terry Moore (comics print version – 344 pages)

annafrenchkissAnna and the French Kiss – Stephanie Perkins (YA e-book – 372 pages)

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I also made it about 15% of the way through The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters before calling it a night!

End of Event Meme:

Which hour was most daunting for you?

I made it to Hour 18 or thereabouts, so I guess that?

Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?

Anna and the French Kiss was fun. The Lady Astronaut of Mars, which was a SF novelette, provided a whole new world to venture into. Strangers in Paradise (the series) was at times funny and shocking. The combination of the three worked great for me.

Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?

I thought it was great!

What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?

The hosts and cheerleaders were all fantastic!

How many books did you read?

3 – see above

What were the names of the books you read?

See above

Which book did you enjoy most?

The Paying Guests

Which did you enjoy least?

I enjoyed them all!

If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders?

How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?

I’ve got the date pencilled in!

Dewey’s 24 Hour Read-a-thon Update Post

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Please note: I’ll be updating this post for the rest of the day and not putting up any new posts!

Hour 18

It’s 1010 here in California and my neighbour’s party is finally winding down. I’m kind of amazed that I can still hear kids screaming next door! My own are thankfully sound asleep! I’ve been reading in bed, and a little earlier, took a reading break and watched The Good Wife! This will be my last update for the night. I had a great time! And managed to read more than I expected! So all in, it was a fantastic day. A huge thank you to everyone who hosted and planned and cheered!!

Currently reading: The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters

Books finished: The Lady Astronaut of Mars by Mary Robinette Kowal; Strangers in Paradise book 2 by Terry Moore; Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

 Hour 15 (758pm)

After a dinner of tandoori chicken and a kale and chickpea curry with basmati rice (ok so the kids had penne with bolognese) and dessert of fruits (strawberries, grapes, persimmons), we chatted with my Mum in Singapore via Skype. Then the kids went to bed, the husband went back to work (poor thing) and I’m off to do a bit more reading before bed. My usual bedtime is 1030 so I’m not sure how much longer I’ll stay up past that! Hopefully I’ll get to put in one last update before bed.

 

Reading: The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters

Books finished: The Lady Astronaut of Mars by Mary Robinette Kowal; Strangers in Paradise book 2 by Terry Moore; Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Eating: Finished dinner an hour ago so nothing until tomorrow!

Total chocolates consumed: 3!

Total caffeinated drinks: 1 tea, 1 espresso, 1/2 a Vietnamese iced coffee

 

 

Mid-Event Survey:
1. What are you reading right now?

Strangers in Paradise book 2 by Terry Moore. It’s a series of comics

2. How many books have you read so far?
Just one. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. But I’m almost done with Strangers in Paradise.

3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?

The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters. I’ve been saving it for the second half!

4. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?

My whole day is full of interruptions since I’ve got two kids aged 3.5 and 17 months. My husband was out this morning and while he’s at home now he has been working! So I’ve been doing the bulk of the parenting. How do I deal with it? Worry less about the mess the kids are making! Try to squeeze in some reading whenever I can. And more importantly, get them to read too! They’re too young to read on their own so I’ve read maybe 15 books to them so far.

5. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?

No surprises yet I think. Just lots of fun!

Hour 10: 215 pm

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We went out for lunch at our usual Vietnamese restaurant. Pho with rare beef is my order. And the husband and I split a Vietnamese iced coffee. Refreshing! We all popped off to the library for a quick pickup of some books on hold, and grabbed a few more books for the kids.

Reading: Strangers in Paradise book 2 by Terry Moore

I’m really enjoying this series. It makes me laugh!

Just finished: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Hooray! I finished my first book! It was a fun easygoing read!

What the kids are up to: checking out the new library books and making their usual mess!

Hour 4:
It’s 841! The husband left about ten minutes ago to get his car serviced so won’t be back till lunchtime and I’ve got the kiddies with me.

Still reading: Anna and the French Kiss
Eating: nothing at the moment but I shared a persimmon with Wee Reader after his breakfast. See the photo below for my breakfast!
What the kids are up to: it’s Lego time in the loft and I’m just making sure they play together nicely!

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Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon is finally here! I’ll be updating on my blog  throughout the Readathon, maybe every three to four hours or so, and on Instagram as well (I’m @olduvaireads on Instagram, how about you?)

Want to know what I’ll be reading? Here are the books in my stack! Alright! Let’s go!

 

Hour 0: Intro Meme

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?

The San Francisco Bay Area with my two little boys aged 3.5 and 17 months. I’ve been living here for about five years or so but am originally from Singapore!

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?

Sarah Waters’ The Paying Guests! It’s a long one and I’m not sure that I’ll even get to it today, but I love Sarah Waters’ books and it’s been a long time since I’ve read one!

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?

I made a banana bundt cake yesterday (here’s a link to the recipe by Dorie Greenspan). It’s the first time I tried this recipe so I was so glad when it turned out exactly how I imagined it. Moist, light, more like a cake than banana bread! Hooray!

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!

As a kid I was fascinated with archaeology and wanted to be an archaeologist! So that’s why the nickname ‘olduvai’ came in. Yes, when the Internet came around, as in, the boops and beeps of the dial-up modems, I was about 17 and picked ‘olduvai’ as my username. It was kind of unique and so I’ve stuck with it all this time. My real name is Sharlene. How do you do!

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?

I did my first readathon in April. This time, I’m going to just take it easy! Read a bit here and there and try to see what everyone else is up to.

My Readathon stack

dewey

Wow how did we get to another Readathon already?

This time though, I’ve signed up early and am getting my stack ready.

My goal for the readathon is to get one book read. And to visit some blogs and see what everyone is up to. I’m keeping my expectations low as I’ll be by myself with the littles for most of the morning.  I might try to do some picture- and board-book readathon-ing if they’ll let me. The 3-year-old would be happy to read with me, especially if he’s got his pile of Cars (as in yes, the Pixar movie) books and various other vehicles books. The 17-month-old likes certain books, like those with babies or cats, and some that have trains and airplanes. But he won’t sit still for long so it’s harder with him!

I have way too many books to read! But it’s just so much fun thinking up all those possibilities for my readathon stack.

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The Iron Ring – Lloyd Alexander (kidlit)
Strangers in Paradise #2 – #6 – Terry Moore (Graphic novels)

Plus I’m still far far from the halfway point in Drood!

Some e-books

Anna and the French Kiss – Stephanie Perkins (YA)
The Lady Astronaut of Mars – Mary Robinette Kowai (a novelette – SF)
The Dead in their Vaulted Arches (Flavia de Luce #6) – Alan Bradley (Crime/mystery/YA)
My year of meats – Ruth Ozeki (fiction)
And GAAHHH! my hold on the library e-book of Sarah Waters’ Paying Guests just came in! Ok I don’t really know which one to read now….What would you read first?

Are you taking part in the readathon? What are you looking forward to most?

 

 

TLC Book Tours: The Monogram Murders by Sophie Hannah

The Monogram Murders

 

I first knew of Hercule Poirot from David Suchet’s portrayal of the Belgian detective with that snappy mustache. I think it was my Mum who enjoyed watching this series, well, whatever the reason, I remember watching some episodes as a kid.

And here I should add that for many years I (silly me!) scoffed at Agatha Christie and other mystery writers and never went anywhere near the ‘Mystery’ sections in libraries or bookstores at all.

I have since learnt what a fool I’ve been! Today I read far more widely than I used to, thanks in part to all you wonderful book bloggers out there! And have been poking around quite a few mystery/crime/detective series, and not just liking but loving them! Among those I’ve enjoyed are Laurie R King’s Mary Russell and Kate Martinelli series, Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce series, Colin Cotterill’s Dr Siri Paiboun series, Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs series. In the past couple of years, I’ve even read Sherlock Holmes! This was largely due to the excellent BBC series. And that was a huge step for me, as my sister and I were given a collection of Sherlock Holmes stories when we were kids and that book was nothing more than a bookend to us!

But yes, Agatha Christie. She of the 66 detective novels, of which 33 star Hercule Poirot.

Of which I have perhaps read four? I hope to slowly increase that number, because they are a delight to read.

But this one, this latest Hercule Poirot mystery, is written by crime novelist Sophie Hannah, who, in an interview with The Telegraph, said that she decided to construct “the most intriguing possible mystery and bring it to Hercule Poirot”.

It must be HUGE shoes to fill, writing such a book. And Hannah has done a pretty good job at it. Here’s the plot summary:

 

Hercule Poirot’s quiet supper in a London coffeehouse is interrupted when a young woman confides to him that she is about to be murdered.  She is terrified – but begs Poirot not to find and punish her killer. Once she is dead, she insists, justice will have been done.

Later that night, Poirot learns that three guests at a fashionable London Hotel have been murdered, and a cufflink has been placed in each one’s mouth. Could there be a connection with the frightened woman? While Poirot struggles to put together the bizarre pieces of the puzzle, the murderer prepares another hotel bedroom for a fourth victim…

 

From the young woman’s “I’m already dead, you see, or I shall be soon”, the mystery intrigues. And Hercule Poirot is on the case. A large part of the narrative is told from the point of view of a Scotland Yard policeman, Catchpool, who is intelligence but lacks confidence in himself. Poirot takes on the role of mentor here, encouraging Catchpool to figure things out but it is Catchpool, or at least something crucial he says, that leads to Poirot eventually solving the case. (Hannah found the name ‘Catchpool’ – as well as several other names she uses in the book – on a headstone in an old cemetery!)

And while I’m not as familiar with Poirot as others may be, but not long after finishing The Monogram Murders, I read Evil Under the Sun (Hercule Poirot #23), which I selected at random to get a better feel for Christie’s Poiroy, and it feels like Hannah has captured his mannerisms well. However, after reading Evil Under the Sun, Monogram Murders felt too lengthy,  so I checked Goodreads: At 352 pages (hardcover version), The Monogram Murders is longer than many of Christie’s books, which seem to have fewer than 300 pages. For instance, Evil Under the Sun is 220 pages long. What is with all these book lengths these days? The book felt like it went on too long here and there, especially after I read Evil Under the Sun which seemed more crisp and efficient.

Still the mystery was rather an enjoyable one, a tricky one that Christie herself might have thought of (please don’t yell at me for saying that, any Agatha Christie fans out there!). I’m still a rookie when it comes to this genre so I’m going to have to study up by reading more by Sophie Hannah and Agatha Christie – and whatever other crime/mystery/detective/thriller series/novels that you would recommend.

So recommend away!

 

Agatha ChristieAbout Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie is the most widely published author of all time, outsold only by the Bible and Shakespeare. Her books have sold more than a billion copies in English and another billion in a hundred foreign languages. She died in 1976.

Learn more about Agatha Christie through her official website.

Sophie Hannah

About Sophie Hannah 

Internationally bestselling author Sophie Hannah breathes new life into the incomparable detective. In this thrilling tale, Poirot plunges into a mystery set in 1920s London—a diabolically clever puzzle that will test his brilliant skills and baffle and delight longtime Christie fans and new generations of readers discovering him for the first time. Authorized by Christie’s family, and featuring the most iconic detective of all time, this instant Christie classic is sure to be celebrated by mystery lovers the world over.

I received this book from its publisher and TLC Book Tours

Check out the other stops on the tour:

Monday, September 15th: A Bookish Way of Life

Wednesday, September 17th: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Thursday, September 18th: The Road to Here

Thursday, October 2nd: From the TBR Pile

Friday, October 3rd: My Bookshelf

Tuesday, October 7th: A Bookworm’s World

Wednesday, October 8th: Jorie Loves a Story

Thursday, October 9th: BoundbyWords

Thursday, October 9th: Wordsmithonia

Friday, October 10th: Books in the Burbs

Wednesday, October 15th: Olduvai Reads

TBD: Sara’s Organized Chaos

It’s Monday and I’m tired!

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.

 

We were rather ambitious and put the 17-month-old in the same room with the 3.5yo this weekend. He had previously been sleeping in the loft, so no door, no fourth wall, just curtains. And being the light sleeper that he is, sometimes the sound of my door opening or someone walking downstairs would wake him up. In other words, not the best place to sleep! So on the first night, it took ages for him to even consent to lying down in bed. New sleeping environment and all.  And he woke up a few times in the middle of the night, and we could hear his big brother sometimes going “shhh! Shhhh!” over the monitor. But from about 130am all was quiet. That lasted till about 545 when he started talking to himself, woke his brother and the two of them started “talking” to each other…. It would’ve been kind of cute, if I weren’t so tired! Luckily the second night seems to have gone better. I did hear him cry out once or twice in the middle of the night but he stopped and must have put himself back to sleep. And woke up when the garage door opened at about 630 when his dad left for the Bart station.

In other not so exciting news, my Mum flew back to Singapore on Friday. She arrived safely, late but safe, after two passengers and their bags had to be offloaded in Seoul, and she was already back at work yesterday (Monday Singapore time)! The house is so much quieter without her! And today will be my first day just by myself with the two kids after three months. Gulp!

Currently…

Reading:

drood

Drood – Dan Simmons
I’m hesitant. I’m at page 230 or so (out of 771!) and am wondering if I should continue. I’ve spent quite a bit of time on this book and it’s been interesting, if long winded. We have already learnt about this mysterious Drood and his past and so I’m wondering, isn’t that then the mystery solved somewhat? How can there be over 500 pages more of this!?!? I’m not afraid of chunksters, having read some others by Simmons himself, but this one, I don’t know… I don’t feel very vested in it at the moment.

strangersparadise1

Strangers in Paradise – Terry Moore

I’m enjoying it so far

Just borrowed:

annafrenchkiss

Anna and the French Kiss – Stephanie Perkins

I’ve seen this on a few book blogs and it seems to be well liked, although not typically the kind of book I read. But I’m compiling some lighter reads for the readathon!

Eating:
a Hawaiian bun

Drinking:
Water. It’s going to be a warm day with a high of 31c/89f so I’m making sure I’m hydrated! I’ve already gulped down a big mug of black tea.

Watching:

I’m still doing the back and forth between The Walking Dead and Gilmore Girls. And just to mix it up even more, The Good Wife!

Listening:

Everything will be alright in the endWeezer

Looking forward to:
The Readathon this weekend! The husband has to bring his Mini in for service in the morning (I know, how inconsiderate right?! :P) so I doubt I’ll be able to read very much in the morning but hopefully after that??

Last week…

I read:

evilundersun
Evil under the sun (Hercule Poirot #23) – Agatha Christie
A fun read. Poirot is holidaying at a beach resort (!) when one of the guests is found strangled.

 

What are you reading this week?