It’s Monday

itsmondayIt’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.



It’s funny how kids’ tastes evolve pretty much every day.

On Saturday, we went to a Korean restaurant where we ordered their spam and kimchi pancake. It’s not spicy or anything so my two-year-old ate it the last time we were there. The four-year-old refused even a bite of it. This time though he loved it and wanted more and more. We ate it for leftovers on Sunday, and he asked for more too. Then my two-year-old decided he wanted to try my tomato soup when we were at Panera Bread on Sunday. He’s a soup lover but more of the Asian soup variety, that is, a clear soup. He’s tried creamy soups before but hasn’t liked them. This time he kept sipping my tomato soup. He is at that fussy age but does seem to prefer Asian food. He does better with rice and noodles than potatoes (except for fries) and pasta, for instance. And just the other day ate handfuls of raisins, one after another, then this weekend refused to eat the raisin scones I made. Oh well!

Anyway, here’s some things we ate last week.




Ginseng Chicken soup and plenty else at SGD Tofu House in Santa Clara


My mum made fish head curry. Yum. It’s got eggplant but no okra.


The Husband was delighted to learn that our favourite Hong Kong bakery was selling mooncakes again. We love ours with just golden lotus paste (no yolk). Mid-Autumn Festival (which is what the mooncakes are all about) is September 27. It’s all about playing with lanterns, eating mooncakes, sipping tea and gazing at the full moon.

Also, I have been having such problems commenting on Blogspot posts! I’ve tried both Safari and Firefox on my Macbook, and neither seems to work. So I’ve been reading your posts, I really have! I just can’t seem to comment!





The Queen of the Tearling – Erika Johansen

By the time this post publishes, I’ll have finished this. And enjoyed it far more than I expected! I like the young woman learning to be queen bit.



The Silver Star – Jeannette Walls

In my excitement to read more and more of Tearling, I forgot about reading this one. I’m picking it up again.


Hawkeye: Little Hits – by Matt Fraction (Writer), David Aja (Illustrations), Steve Lieber (Illustrator), Jesse Hamm (Illustrator), Francesco Francavilla (Illustrator), Matt Hollingsworth (Color Artist)

Hawkeye is always fun. At least in this reincarnation. I don’t really like him in the movie version though.




The Martian – Andy Weir

I finally decided to just try this. And as I made my way through all his science-y survivalist logs and all that math, I was almost about to give up. I didn’t really like Mark Watney, maybe because there wasn’t any about about him to care about, other than his being stuck on Mars. When Weir finally brings in other characters (those on Earth), I see that there may be some hope for this book and decide to stick around a bit longer. So we will see how this pans out!




I was browsing the Netflix movie catalogue and decided to rewatch Total Recall. It is fascinating to see what the future was to be like in 2084 from the perspective of 1990. Lots of use of holograms, TV screens everywhere, a ‘JohnnyCab’ with an animatronic cab driver (what, no driverless cars?). Oh and a tracker implanted in his head!

On another note, here’s a Gizmodo post about 16 classic films that got future tech right. That just makes me want to watch Weird Science again!




A scone. I love this flaky scone recipe from The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum and it is seriously the most buttery scone ever. The recipe uses a rolling out and folding technique which I guess may be similar to making puff pastry (not that I’ve ever made that!) so it is as its title goes, a very lovely flaky scone. So good. The recipe makes for a big batch and it freezes great!


Tea. Because scones.


Conundrum. See first paragraph.

It’s probably going to be some fried noodles, as my four-year-old has declared a newfound love for fried noodles.

There is a nice bunch of kangkong or water spinach from the farmers market, so that can be a garlicky side dish, along with some soy sauce pork chops and rice.

So far that’s all I’ve got. A trip to the Asian supermarket is in order later today, maybe to get a nice whole fish!


Why the most popular hiking memoirs don’t go the distance (The New Yorker)

While hiking the trail, I learned that whenever a thru-hiker met a day-hiker (as thru-hikers somewhat dismissively refer to those who are “just out for the day”), the day-hiker would invariably ask the same question: “Have you read ‘A Walk in the Woods’?”

Aarti loved Zen Cho’s Sorcerer to the Crown! Can’t wait to read that.

Caustic Cover Critic does his round-up of crap classic covers. 

Literary Lindsey and her son list some of the “pluckiest, funniest heroines for your boy to try”. I’m definitely gonna try some out on my kids soon.

Also, exciting: The Dog Days of Summer Readathon! It’s hosted by Andi and Heather, September 18 to 20. I’m in!

Added to my TBR:

A Manual for Cleaning Women –  Lucia Berlin (via Elle magazine of all places)

Many LA books via this 2013  LA Weekly article which asked 18 LA literary figures for their favourite LA novels (via Bookriot). John Fante’s Ask the Dust is mentioned a lot. So now I’m curious!

Last week:

I read:


Our Endless Numbered Days – Claire Fuller
One World: A Global Anthology of Short Stories – Edited by Chris Brazier
Hugh Fearlessly Eats it all: dispatches from the gastronomic frontline – Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
Truth and Consequences – Alison Lurie
Lulu Anew – Etienne Davodeau

I posted:

Recent Reads

Library Loot

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Nine Auto-buy Authors


Recent Reads

There have been so many recent reads that I have been wanting to tell you about, that I decided to take the easy way out and condense it all into this one post. And, er, resort to some Goodreads links too, if you want a synopsis of the book (just click on the titles). Because I’m lazy efficient like that.


The Royal We – Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan
A bit of a guilty pleasure this read. It was a modern fairytale of sorts. American girl meets Prince William Nicholas, they fall in love, hijinks ensue. She meets the queen with a twinkle in her eye. Paparazzi, tabloids, paparazzi, gossip gossip gossip. That kind of thing.
It was Shannon at River City Reading whose post convinced me to read this. Her first two reasons didn’t work for me (not really all that interested in the royal family, never read Go Fug Yourself), but the last one really did. I too was all about the, eh, this doesn’t seem like my thing, but it really was a ball of fun.

oneworldOne World: A Global Anthology of Short Stories – Edited by Chris Brazier
As one can guess, the best stories came from the known authors like Jhumpa Lahiri and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. The rest of the stories sadly didn’t stand out as much. And some were so completely underwhelming but Elaine Chiew, originally from Malaysia, had a rather memorable story narrated by a Filipino domestic worker in Hong Kong. It also is a bit misleading, this title of a ‘global anthology’. Out of 23 stories, 6 were from Nigeria, 3 from the United States, none from East Asia or South America. I was disappointed by this collection.


Our Endless Numbered Days – Claire Fuller
Oh this book. It was glorious. It filled my heart and head with snow and cold. And I read a good part of it sitting shoulder to shoulder with strangers at the Social Security office for two hours. So I have to thank Claire Fuller for writing such a truly amazing book that took me away from the fluorescent lighting and the plastic chair poking my back and the horrendous wait. Of course I did not know that an even longer wait was in store for me a couple of weeks later at the DMV. More on that later.
But Our Endless Numbered Days is as odd and wonderful as its cover and its title. I am a big fan of the band Iron and Wine and that was the first thing I thought of when I heard of this book, their album Our Endless Numbered Days, the title of which comes from the song Passing Afternoon:


There are things that drift away like our endless, numbered days

And I think this is a very suitable title for the book, as well as a suitable song to listen to while reading this book.

There are things we can’t recall, blind as night that finds us all
Winter tucks her children in, her fragile china dolls
But my hands remember hers, rolling ’round the shaded ferns
Naked arms, her secrets still like songs I’d never learned

It’s a little as if Fuller was writing her book to this song. A gentle forest-filled afternoon.  But with a hint of darkness and anxiety behind it all. A minor key, a snowstorm, squirrel-hunting, a desperate father. It hints of Red Riding Hood, Hansel and Gretel, Snow White, in its deep darkest of forests kind of way.

Saplings sprouted unchecked against the walls, so it appeared as if die Hutte, ashamed of its dishevelled appearance, was trying, and failing, to hide behind them. I half expected a trail of breadcrumbs to lead off into  the trees that pressed in from both sides.



Hugh Fearlessly Eats it all: dispatches from the gastronomic frontline – Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

It is quite apt to jump from Our Endless Numbered Days to this one. Sometimes when I read a work of fiction that moves me, stuns me even, I feel unable to pick up another. And instead turn to a comic or non-fiction. This one was on Scribd and when I lived in Singapore, I used to watch the River Cottage TV series, where disheveled Hugh whips up things in his little cottage, daringly doing things us homecooks wouldn’t like trying out roadkill. Ok so it wasn’t all about that, but Hugh F-W is big on the whole seasonal, local produce thing. He grows stuff in his garden, goes fishing, raises pigs, that kind of thing. And fittingly, in one of the articles in this collection, he eats squirrel, which he describes as “as succulent as frog’s legs, with a light, gamey flavour”.



Headless woman cover!

Truth and Consequences – Alison Lurie
Lucie wrote such an excellent book – Pulitzer Prize-winning even – in Foreign Affairs (my thoughts). So to go from that high to this one in a few months was a bit of a dramatic drop. I liked that it was set in the halls of academia, but the characters just didn’t quite gel for me. Or maybe it was just that I was reading this during my agonising mind-numbing four hours wait at the California Department of Motor Vehicles. (The wait was horrendous, thankfully the staff who assisted me was excellent.)

But as I finished the rest of this book in the comfort of my own home, I don’t think the DMV excuse works here. In Foreign Affairs, Vinnie stole the show. She was one of those quirky eccentric types who had an original sense of humour and was rather charming that way. But the characters in Truth and Consequences were just all kinds of wrong for me. It does discuss chronic pain though so that was a rather different take on things.

Library Loot

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. 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 haven’t actually been to the library this week, but some e-book holds came in for me, so here they are!

The Snow Kimono – Mark Henshaw
I was curious about this book after seeing it on BookerTalk. I was especially intrigued after learning that it was rejected 32 times but won NSW Premier’s Literary Award. And even better, my library’s Overdrive catalogue had it – which is unusual as they aren’t big on Australian authors!


On the same day that retired police inspector Auguste Jovert receives a letter from a woman claiming to be his daughter, he returns to his Paris apartment to find a stranger waiting for him.

That stranger is a Japanese professor called Tadashi Omura. What’s brought him to Jovert’s doorstep is not clear, but then he begins to tell his story – a story of a fractured friendship, lost lovers, orphaned children, and a body left bleeding in the snow.

As Jovert pieces together the puzzle of Omura’s life, he can’t help but draw parallels with his own; for he too has lead a life that’s been extraordinary and dangerous – and based upon a lie.

The Queen of the Tearling – Erika Johansen

For a while I kept seeing Erika Johansen’s name everywhere. Good marketing I suppose. And it made me put the e-book (the first of the series) on hold and tada here it is.


An untested young princess must claim her throne, learn to become a queen, and combat a malevolent sorceress in an epic battle between light and darkness in this spectacular debut—the first novel in a trilogy.

Young Kelsea Raleigh was raised in hiding after the death of her mother, Queen Elyssa, far from the intrigues of the royal Keep and in the care of two devoted servants who pledged their lives to protect her. Growing up in a cottage deep in the woods, Kelsea knows little of her kingdom’s haunted past . . . or that its fate will soon rest in her hands.

Long ago, Kelsea’s forefathers sailed away from a decaying world to establish a new land free of modern technology. Three hundred years later, this feudal society has divided into three fearful nations who pay duties to a fourth: the powerful Mortmesne, ruled by the cunning Red Queen. Now, on Kelsea’s nineteenth birthday, the tattered remnants of the Queen’s Guard—loyal soldiers who protect the throne—have appeared to escort the princess on a perilous journey to the capital to ascend to her rightful place as the new Queen of the Tearling.

Though born of royal blood and in possession of the Tear sapphire, a jewel of immense power and magic, Kelsea has never felt more uncertain of her ability to rule. But the shocking evil she discovers in the heart of her realm will precipitate an act of immense daring, throwing the entire kingdom into turmoil—and unleashing the Red Queen’s vengeance. A cabal of enemies with an array of deadly weapons, from crimson-caped assassins to the darkest blood magic, plots to destroy her. But Kelsea is growing in strength and stealth, her steely resolve earning her loyal allies, including the Queen’s Guard, led by the enigmatic Lazarus, and the intriguing outlaw known simply as “the Fetch.”

Kelsea’s quest to save her kingdom and meet her destiny has only just begun. Riddled with mysteries, betrayals, and treacherous battles, Kelsea’s journey is a trial by fire that will either forge a legend . . . or destroy her

The Fifth Season – NK Jemisin

What can I say, it is Jemisin, who is on my list of auto-buy authors. I realize this is part one of a new series, but I just could not wait. But her previous series have been written like separate books, that is, books set in the same universe but told by different narrators, so it might be ok.

Oh and also, if you haven’t yet signed up for Diversiverse, head on over to Aarti’s blog! I know it’s a while away still, but there are too many good books I want to read and blog about for those two weeks, so I’m starting now!



This is the way the world ends. Again.

Three terrible things happen in a single day. Essun, a woman living an ordinary life in a small town, comes home to find that her husband has brutally murdered their son and kidnapped their daughter. Meanwhile, mighty Sanze — the world-spanning empire whose innovations have been civilization’s bedrock for a thousand years — collapses as most of its citizens are murdered to serve a madman’s vengeance. And worst of all, across the heart of the vast continent known as the Stillness, a great red rift has been torn into the heart of the earth, spewing ash enough to darken the sky for years. Or centuries.

Now Essun must pursue the wreckage of her family through a deadly, dying land. Without sunlight, clean water, or arable land, and with limited stockpiles of supplies, there will be war all across the Stillness: a battle royale of nations not for power or territory, but simply for the basic resources necessary to get through the long dark night. Essun does not care if the world falls apart around her. She’ll break it herself, if she must, to save her daughter.

Have you read any of these? What did you think of them?

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Nine Auto-buy Authors


Top Ten Of Your Auto-buy Authors 

Hmmm… auto-buy? Well the problem is I don’t really buy books. But I’m going to imagine here that I won a lottery and instead of money I can have unlimited books.

NK Jemisin – I already own all of Jemisin’s books except for her latest.

Ursula K Le Guin – Because Ged

Octavia Butler – I was going to think of something I loved of hers but you know what, I’ve loved everything of hers.

Wang Anyi – I absolutely loved The Song of Everlasting Sorrow but have so far not read any of her other books. Doesn’t help that not many of them have been translated into English

Carol Shields – The Stone Diaries was a book we did in school and I kind of credit it – and my English Lit teacher – for making me want to Read (and Read!) again after those teenaged years of “reading is such a chore”, what was I thinking?.

Hilary Mantel – Because she is weird and wonderful. Read Beyond Black and listen to her speak! (I’ve only heard her on the BBC World Book Club and she kinda weirded me out but in a good, intrigued way)

Lois McMaster Bujold – I may be jumping the gun here but I adored her Sharing Knife series and can’t wait to read more!

Philip Pullman – Because Lyra

Laurie R King – Mary Russell! Kate Martinelli!

L M Montgomery – Anne makes the world a more wonderful place.


So apparently I would rather buy books from women. And I can only think of nine. And erm, some of them are no longer living. Does that still count? Oh well.

Which authors would be on your list?


It’s Monday and I’m so glad it’s cooling down again!

itsmondayIt’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.

Having lived most of my life near the equator you would think I’d be used to the heat by now. But no not really. I am not a fan of the heat and humidity. Luckily the SF Bay Area tends to be relatively cool (compared to Singapore’s average temps of 35C year round) even during the summer except for the occasional Heat Advisory days. And boy was the weekend a scorcher!

So we skipped outdoor plans and instead spent the day indoors at the San Jose Children’s Museum, where we are members. The kids had a great time as always and we decided that an icy treat was in store for us after. So we headed to the nearby Japantown in San Jose for some shaved ice and mochi from Shuei-do Mando Shop.

Lovely delicate hues


grape and strawberry shaved ice


The cutest takeout coffee cup. From Paris Baguette



C spent lots of time “cooking” at the museum








One World: A Global Anthology of Short Stories Edited by Chris Brazier


The Silver Star – Jeannette Walls


I tried out this British police comedy called Vexed, available on Netflix. Kind of amusing.

But otherwise as usual I’m watching a show here a show there. Angel Season 2, The Carrie Diaries Season 1.


Chocolate digestive biscuit. So good. I’ve recently realized that I can buy them from the Indian supermarket. Which is also where I found a good price on my PG Tips!


Milky tea.


Maybe some Singapore-style prawn noodles.

Also we still have plenty of pastes. So maybe a spicy beef rendang with coconut rice.

Ok I got distracted by the thought of coconut rice and can’t think of what else is for this coming week.


The best book designs of 2015 (The Guardian)

Michael Dirda on his latest book on books (B&N review)

I so want to make this Chinese sausage (lapcheong) potato salad now. Never thought of doing that but I can see that it would really work!

The Atlantic on the subtle joys of food packaging. A fun read.

This video of astronaut Karen Nyberg washing her hair in space blew me away!

Last week:

I read:

This burns my heart – Samuel Park
Hey Princess – Mats Jonsson
Horizon (The Sharing Knife #4) – Lois McMaster Bujold

I posted:

Weekend Cooking: Laksa


Swimming to Antarctica by Lynne Cox

Top Ten Tuesday: Most-read authors


Weekend Cooking: Laksa

So I’ve been on a bit of a roll when it comes to Weekend Cooking posts lately, so here’s yet another one featuring a favourite Singapore dish. Laksa!

It’s a spicy noodle dish with a very rich coconutty gravy, usually topped with bean sprouts, fish cake, spongy tofu, prawns. Sometimes with cockles too.

There is Penang laksa which is more of a sour Assam-based soup. But that’s not really for me.

I want the thick rich broth full of the essence of coconut milk. I want chopped up rice noodles that you can slurp up with a soup spoon. I want the spongy tofu that soaks in all the gravy. I want the fresh prawns. I want laksa!

Of course I have to live in the US where getting laksa isn’t as easy as popping down to the laksa stall down the road. There is a little Singaporean-owned cafe in Milpitas which does, among other Singapore foods, a really spicy laksa, but it is a bit of a drive.

But thanks to packaged pastes, I can easily make laksa at home! These pastes were brought by my parents and in-laws from Singapore as they aren’t all that easy to find in the US. However if you do have an Asian supermarket around (in the SF Bay Area there is 99 Ranch, Marina Foods, Lion), I would recommend checking out the pastes available there. I have seen laksa paste by Asian Home Gourmet here. Apparently Sainsbury’s even has their own laksa paste!

Besides the paste, you’ll need coconut milk.

Fresh prawns would be ideal. Quickly cook them shells and all in some boiling water. The prawn water can be added to the gravy for a richer taste. Frozen prawns work fine too.

Rice noodles. The ones above were brought from Singapore. However I’ve made laksa with dried flat noodles, like the kind used in pad Thai. They just have to be soaked/boiled first.

Other things that go into a laksa:

  • Fish cake – which is made of fish paste and corn starch or tapioca starch to hold its shape. Here we have a ‘fish tofu’.
  • Fresh bean sprouts!

Then follow the instructions on the paste package!

This usually begins with frying the paste in a little bit of hot oil, then adding water and bringing that to a boil. In the meantime have your noodles ready, either by boiling them (if using the dried noodles) or by rinsing them in water (if using ‘fresh’ noodles). You can cut up the noodles to make slurping easier.

Add the coconut milk to the paste mixture, then the fish cake/fish tofu and the bean sprouts.

Finally, pour the laksa gravy over the rice noodles. Garnish with your cooked prawns.

The best way to eat laksa is with a soup spoon. That’s why there’s the additional step of cutting up the noodles. So that you can scoop up noodles and the rest of the ingredients and most importantly, the spicy, piquant, luxuriously rich laksa gravy in one spoon and slurp it all up.

Thanks for reading all my Singapore-related posts so far! In case you’re interested, here’s what I’ve written in recent weeks:

kueh kueh from Singapore
Weekend Cooking: Begedil. Sort of
Weekend Cooking: Beef Hor Fun
Weekend Cooking: Kongbah bao and stirfried kangkong 
Weekend Cooking: Jackfruit and Durians


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



Diversiverse, hosted by Aarti over at Book Lust, is back for its third year!

  • Read and review one book
  • Written by a person of color
  • During the first two weeks of October (October 4th-17th)

Some books I am thinking of reading:

Something by Zen Cho! Spirits Abroad or Sorcerer to the Crown. Hopefully both!
The Fifth Season by NK Jemisin
Skin Folk: stories by Nalo Hopkinson
Grace of Kings by Ken Liu

Are you planning on taking part in Diversiverse? What do you hope to read?

Swimming to Antarctica



Recently Kim Chambers, a New Zealander, made the news here by swimming from the Farallon Islands to the Golden Gate Bridge. A marathon swim of 30 miles of shark-infested waters. Something only four other people (all men) have done before. Just a few days before her successful swim, her swimming partner Simon Dominguez had to stop his own attempt (in the reverse direction) when a great white started circling him. Sadly he was within sight of the city at the time!

One amazing thing about these swimmers is that they do these long-distance swims in just a swimsuit. Not a wetsuit or any protective gear. Just a swimsuit, googles and swim cap. They are not allowed to touch the boat or anyone. Any food or drink to be consumed must be thrown to them from the boats accompanying them. Or their swims could be disqualified.

Reading about Chambers’ successful attempt and Dominguez’s sadly unsuccessful one made me want to write about a recent read of Swimming to Antarctica by open water swimmer Lynne Cox.

Lynne Cox is one amazing woman. As a young teenager she already had two channel swims under her belt. In 1971 she crossed the Catalina Island Channel in California with a group of young swimmers. She crossed the English Channel in 1972 and 1973 when she was just 15 years old. Not long after that , she went on to become the first person to swim the Straits of Magellan in Chile, and to swim around the Cape of Good Hope.

Then in 1987 she made history by swimming the Bering Strait from Little Diomede in Alaska to Big Diomede in the Soviet Union. This was during the Cold War so things were tense. Everyone was suspicious, she couldn’t get any answers until one day things just clicked and she did her historical swim, a swim mentioned by Mikhail Gorbachev himself.

She even swam the Spree River between East and West Germany, which once had mines, razor wire and sheet metal in the river, and which the Germans weren’t sure if everything was removed.

And then, as the title of the book suggests, she swam to Antarctica where icebergs and the freezing cold water were big dangers, oh and so were the killer whales. She even had to protect her teeth and eardrums from the freezing cold water.

“I looked down into the water; it was a bright blue-gray and so clear that it appeared as if I were swimming through air. The viscosity of the water was different, too; it was thicker than any I had ever swum in. It felt like I was swimming through gelato.”

Thirty-three, thirty-two degrees Farenheit. Or 0 degrees Celsius.

“I began to notice that the cold was pressurizing my body like a giant tourniquet. It was squeezing the blood from the exterior part of my body and pushing it into the core. Everything felt tight. Focus on your breath, I told myself. Slow it down. Let it fill your lungs. You’re not going to be able to make it if you keep going at this rate.

One thing that amazed me throughout the first half of the book is the support she received from her parents, as well as her determination to set herself these challenges and accomplish them. I mean, how many 15 year olds do you know who say to their parents that they want to break the English Channel record?

“They believed age was important, but they also believed that you could achieve almost anything in life with hard work and talent. I was lucky that they were open-minded about this, because I’m not sure what I would have done if they had told me I was too young; I probably would have worked on them until they couldn’t stand it any longer and finally gave in. They knew I was determined; my father called it stubborn. Still, they also knew how important it was to have dreams and goals and a path in life. And they instilled this in me.”

Her story is simply told. Sometimes quite intensely so. Plenty of times I want to stop her and say, hey, relax you’re only a teenager! Do you really need to cross yet another channel? But apparently she does. Although the why isn’t exactly something Cox really puts into words. And for an average person like me, who is happy to be in a swimming pool (and honestly, a bit terrified at swimming in the sea) and the only marathon I want to take part in is a reading marathon, I just have to sit back and admire what she – and all these other open-water swimmers – have done. Bravo.


Top Ten Tuesday: Most-read authors


Top Ten Authors I’ve Read The Most Books From


So according to Goodreads….

Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 10.44.06 AM

I was puzzled. I didn’t think that I had read that very many Gaimans. Then I realized it’s because of The Sandman series! There are 10 volumes in that series.

That also explains Brian K Vaughan (thanks to Y: The Last Man) and Noelle Stevenson (Lumberjanes issues – so I don’t really think those count as books!) and Lemony Snicket (A Series of Unfortunate Events). Bill Willingham (Fables) and Joe Hill (Locke and Key) are also there.

So… if I’m to take this on individual novels alone – and not comics or books that belong to a series – the top prize goes to Margaret Atwood, then Ursula K Le Guin. I kind of suspected Le Guin would be there, but not Atwood, as it has been ages since I’ve read any of her books!

As for Laurie R King, I have dipped my reading… er… toe in all of her series, Kate Martinelli, Mary Russell and even Harry Stuyvesant). But was surprised to see Stephen King there. Next up is Jasper Fforde. I adore Fforde’s books and he is very sweet in person (I got to interview him when he was in Singapore ages ago!) but it has been too long since I’ve read his books too.

I am a Flavia De Luce devotee as I am pretty much up to date with that series by Alan Bradley – a very rare event in this reader’s books.

Joyce Carol Oates has written plenty of books and I apparently have read quite a few of them! Same for Haruki Murakami although I have not read his latest books. Judy Blume was an author I adored and read and reread as a kid. I picked up her latest book In the Unlikely Event, but have yet to read it.

As for the late Kage Baker, I finished The Company series last year I think. It is one of my favourite series ever! I’ve yet to read any of her non-Company books, but am looking forward to slowly savouring them.

More than 10 authors I know but I think many of them shouldn’t really be counted as ‘most’.

I think that LM Montgomery should be up there too, but as I last read the Anne of Green Gables series ages ago, I didn’t record that on Goodreads. Note to self: must reread Anne!

Who are the authors you’ve read the most?

It’s Monday and Singapore turned 50!

August 9th was Singapore’s 50th birthday. For such a tiny nation, it’s come so far.

We attended an afternoon event held by the Singapore Consulate-General for the San Francisco Bay Area. It was at a hotel in Burlingame, near the airport. Unfortunately although we were on time, there was a long queue to sign in and all the goodie bags had been given out! There was a balloon artist and face painting for kids so the boys had fun with their balloon sword and dog. There wasn’t much else to do except queue for food which we didn’t want to do so we walked around the bayfront and watched the airplanes land at SFO, which was far more fun than what was going on inside. We were a little bit disappointed! And ended up driving to Palo Alto to hang around Books Inc and then eat dinner.

There was a huge celebration in Singapore with an extra-long Golden Jubilee celebration weekend – Friday to Monday!

We celebrated on August 9 Sunday in our own way, watching the broadcast of the National Day Parade on our TV (streamed online), the kids waving flags and marveling at the flypast and the mobile column and the very very many fireworks. It was the first time the kids had watched the parade and although parts of it went on for too long, they thought it was good fun. Well at least the four-year-old did. The two-year-old just wanted to wave his flag and climb over us and play with his trains.

Happy birthday Singapore!

Other things we ate this week!

Lettuce that F had planted! Farm-to-table. Sort of!

  Also Krispy Kreme. Because in Singapore they are ridiculously priced.






This Burns my Heart – Samuel Park (available on Scribd)

A rather melodramatic story set in 1960s South Korea.


The Royal We – Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

A rather fun fairytale-princess romp kind of thing. I am liking it more than I care to admit. Hahaha! It’s not really a book I would pick up but I was curious…!

Also I recently discovered that Scribd has an annual plan that is cheaper than paying by the month. So I went for it! Not too long ago I would’ve scoffed at a paid e-book subscription but I’ve realized that I really quite like Scribd. I’ve read quite a lot of books and comics on it. And I’ve even read picture books to the kids on it (useful when traveling and have to pack light). Recently we’ve discovered kids audiobooks and have listened to Neil Gaiman read his Chu books and Mo Willems read Knuffle Bunny, and more. The boys had fun with those audiobooks. I never thought to let them listen to audiobooks so it was a nice surprise. 



I finally watched Monsters University! I loved Monsters Inc all those years ago when it came out…wow in 2001! And I really wasn’t sure about a prequel, but it was just such good fun which had me smiling away.


There’s an SG50 playlist on Spotify!

(SG50 is what Singapore is calling its 50th national or independence day which happened yesterday)



I wish I could still be eating the kueh that my parents brought from Singapore (kueh ambon, kueh lapis and ang ku kueh) but they don’t keep so we had to stuff ourselves with them on the first couple of days. They’re full of sticky coconut-y goodness.

Instead I had some of this delicious chocolate cake from Satura Cakes in Los Altos. It has a lovely crunchy base and a mousse interior. So good.




Oxtail stew, hopefully, I can get oxtail.

Mee Goreng



Over at River City Reading, Shannon is already thinking about the 2016 Tournament of Books!

Savidge Reads talks about Not the Booker.

Also,  I really need to start keeping a TBR list for my kids. This picture book, Double Happiness by Nancy Tupper Ling, illustrated by Alina Chau, reviewed by Kirkus, sounds lovely. And there’s San Francisco!

A pretty good post in Food52 about substituting honey for sugar by Joanne Chang of Flour. Among the tips is to reduce the oven temperature as it browns faster with honey. Noted!

Also bookmarking this for myself as a place to maybe check out when I’m next in Singapore (later this year I hope!), Open Farm Community in the Dempsey area. Thanks imp!

I loved this NYT interview with Ursula K Le Guin. One of my absolute favourite writers.

Which fantasy novels do you consider the best of the genre? 

Oh gee, “best” again. And “genre.” Ow. I’ll pretend you asked for a few of my favorite fantasies, O.K.? And I am applying the Dirri (Do I Reread It?) Test. So, for starters: “Alice in Wonderland,” “Gormenghast,” “The Sword in the Stone,” “The Jungle Books,” “The Lord of the Rings.”

 Last week:

I read:

The Shining Girls – Lauren Beukes

Inheritance – Balli Kaur Jaswal

Sharaz-De Sergio Toppi (Illustrator), Edward Gauvin (Translator)
Miss Dont Touch Me Hubert and Kerascoet and Joe Johnson (translator)
Gingerbread Girl Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover
I posted:

Weekend Cooking: kueh kueh from Singapore

A Companion to Wolves; Uprooted