Top Ten books added to my TBR list

toptentuesThis week’s topic brought to you by the Broke and the Bookish is:


Ten Books You Recently Added To Your To-Be-Read List

 Ah the TBR list. Mine – at least on Goodreads – is 1717 books long.

The Faraway Nearby – Rebecca Solnit

I just bought this from Books Inc on Saturday. I’ve not read Solnit’s works before and was kind of drawn to this, plus that ‘clearance’ sticker. It was going for $7.99.



Yokohama, California- Toshio Mori



I saw this on Kirkus. I just wish they had used a different font on the cover though!

“originally published in 1949, is the first published collection of short stories by a Japanese American. Set in the fictional community of Yokahama, California, Mori’s work is alive with the people, gossip, humor, and legends of Japanese America in the late 1930s and early 1940s.”


 Cinnamon Gardens – Shyam Selvadurai


Set among the upper classes in the gracious, repressive and complex world of 1920s Ceylon (Sri Lanka), this evocative novel tells the story of two people who must determine if it is possible to pursue personal happiness without compromising the happiness of others. A young teacher, Annalukshmi, whose splintered family attempts to arrange an appropriate marriage for her, must decide whether the independence she craves will doom her to a life without love and companionship. It is also the story of Balendran who, respectably married, must suppress-or confront-the secret desires for men that threaten to throw his life into chaos. With sensuous atmosphere and vivid prose, this masterfully plotted novel re-creates a world where a beautiful veneer of fragrant gardens and manners hides social, personal, and political issues still relevant today.


Mateship With Birds – Carrie Tiffany


On the outskirts of an Australian country town in the 1950s, a lonely farmer trains his binoculars on a family of kookaburras that roost in a tree near his house. Harry observes the kookaburras through a year of feast, famine, birth, death, war, romance and song. As Harry watches the birds, his next door neighbour has her own set of binoculars trained on him. Ardent, hard-working Betty has escaped to the country with her two fatherless children. Betty is pleased that her son, Michael, wants to spend time with the gentle farmer next door. But when Harry decides to teach Michael about the opposite sex, perilous boundaries are crossed.

Mateship with Birds is a novel about young lust and mature love. It is a hymn to the rhythm of country life — to vicious birds, virginal cows, adored dogs and ill-used sheep. On one small farm in a vast, ancient landscape, a collection of misfits question the nature of what a family can be.

Empires of the Indus: The Story of a River – Alice Albinia


One of the largest rivers in the world, the Indus rises in the Tibetan mountains, flows west across northern India and south through Pakistan. For millennia it has been worshipped as a god; for centuries used as a tool of imperial expansion; today it is the cement of Pakistans fractious union. Five thousand years ago, a string of sophisticated cities grew and traded on its banks. In the ruins of these elaborate metropolises, Sanskrit-speaking nomads explored the river, extolling its virtues in Indias most ancient text, the Rig-Veda. During the past two thousand years a series of invaders Alexander the Great, Afghan Sultans, the British Raj made conquering the Indus valley their quixotic mission. For the people of the river, meanwhile, the Indus valley became a nodal point on the Silk Road, a centre of Sufi pilgrimage and the birthplace of Sikhism. Empires of the Indus follows the river upstream and back in time, taking the reader on a voyage through two thousand miles of geography and more than five millennia of history redolent with contemporary importance.

Black Mamba Boy – Nadifa Mohamed

Longlisted for the Orange Prize and winner of the Betty Trask Award. For fans of Half of a Yellow Sun, a stunning novel set in 1930s Somalia spanning a decade of war and upheaval, all seen through the eyes of a small boy alone in the world.

For Today I Am a Boy – Kim Fu

At birth, Peter Huang is given the Chinese name Juan Chaun, “powerful king.” To his parents, newly settled in small-town Ontario, he is the exalted only son in a sea of daughters, the one who will finally fulfill his immigrant father’s dreams of Western masculinity. Peter and his sisters grow up in an airless house of order and obligation, though secrets and half-truths simmer beneath the surface. At the first opportunity, each of the girls lights out on her own. But for Peter, escape is not as simple as fleeing his parents’ home. Though his father crowned him “powerful king,” Peter knows otherwise. He knows he is really a girl. With the help of his far-flung sisters and the sympathetic souls he finds along the way, Peter inches ever closer to his own life, his own skin, in this darkly funny, emotionally acute, stunningly powerful debut.

Rose Under Fire (Code Name Verity #2) – Elizabeth Wein


While flying an Allied fighter plane from Paris to England, American ATA pilot and amateur poet, Rose Justice, is captured by the Nazis and sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious women’s concentration camp. Trapped in horrific circumstances, Rose finds hope in the impossible through the loyalty, bravery and friendship of her fellow prisoners. But will that be enough to endure the fate that’s in store for her?

Elizabeth Wein, author of the critically-acclaimed and best-selling Code Name Verity, delivers another stunning WWII thriller. The unforgettable story of Rose Justice is forged from heart-wrenching courage, resolve, and the slim, bright chance of survival.

Lucky Alan and other stories – Jonathan Lethem

As always, Lethem’s work, humor, and poignancy work in harmony; people strive desperately for connection through words and often misdirect deeds; and the sentences are glorious.

A Bride’s Story, Vol. 1 (Otoyomegatari #1) – Kaoru Mori, 森 薫


Acclaimed creator Kaoru Mori (Emma, Shirley) brings the nineteenth-century Silk Road to lavish life, chronicling the story of Amir Halgal, a young woman from a nomadic tribe betrothed to a twelve-year-old boy eight years her junior. Coping with cultural differences, blossoming feelings for her new husband, and expectations from both her adoptive and birth families, Amir strives to find her role as she settles into a new life and a new home in a society quick to define that role for her.

Have you read any of these books? What have you added to your TBR list recently?

It’s Monday and I’m needing a rewind to the weekend. 

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.












Some things we ate and did over the past week….

On Saturday morning I woke up with a hankering for waffles. And of course forgot how long our decades-old waffle-maker takes to heat up. Luckily the older boy was still asleep and the younger one was content with playing with and eating cheerios for a bit. Then after two bites of waffles, he declared he was done. Gee thanks.

A visit to Palo Alto (to get some Nespresso – er yes we are Nespresso drinkers) means a visit to Books Inc and buying some books! It also means fruit tart time (see below).

Thursday was curry night – chicken curry and vegetable curry, eaten with naan. The naan was from Costco (from the refrigerated section). We buy it every other month or so and it is always so good.

Also, I summoned the energy to make a lemon yoghurt cake. Sadly it wasn’t lemon-y enough. The husband ate a slice and asked, what cake is it? Butter cake?





It’s Sunday morning, the kids are playing Lego and I’m trying to crank out this post ASAP before one of them comes over and demands to know what I’m doing or start poking at the screen or tapping on the keyboard or asks to watch something or … well, you get the picture.

April is coming! (Inset usual comment about how is it April already)





Americanah –  Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Ok so I don’t usually take this long to read a book. This library e-book is due to disappear from my kindle in two days, and I’m still at about 60%. Mostly because I am savouring every page of it. I think I’m just going to have to buy it.

And because I am reading Americanah, I feel like I am unable to read other books at the same time. That is how much this book is affecting me. Me the reader who usually has several books going on, is reading only one book.






Was at a bit of a loss after finishing Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Unbreakable! They alive dammit!)



But the Husband and I just watched Interstellar. And it was really quite something. I was initially reluctant to see it because me and Matthew McCough McConaughey are not good friends. Plus there was Anne Hathaway and we aren’t very good friends either. But there was John Lithgow, Michael Caine and Jessica Chastain. And it was Christopher Nolan. And sci-fi! So I set my feelings aside and settled down, thinking, at the most I’ll half-watch and half-read my book. And 2 hours 50 minutes later, my book was still unread, except for maybe the first few minutes of the movie. It was way past my 1030 bedtime and I was still awake. Not as in dozily awake but completely fully excitedly awake.

Ok so I had to read Wikipedia for a bit to figure out what was going on – plus about halfway through the movie, my almost-2 started crying and we were very distracted for a bit. The plot was a bit complicated but it was actually rather exciting and science-y – theoretical physicist Kip Thorne worked with Nolan before and during the film’s production, and the animators creating the movie even helped make a physics breakthrough.




So because I have two boys under the age of 4, who are big fans of cars/trains etc, I pretty much have the Thomas the Train song memorized, as well as the Chuggington theme song, as well as the Pixar Cars movie song, Real Gone by Sheryl Crow. And while I would like to make them listen to my favourite bands (mostly of the indie-rock genre), that’s hard for almost-2 and almost-4. However, they seem to enjoy 50s music, like Bobby Darin’s Splish Splash.  



Our “most favouritest” fruit tart ever. From Douce Bakery in Palo Alto. It is really just perfection. Not too sweet, a beautiful crust, and all those fruits!


Double shot espresso with a splash of milk. Because of staying up last night to watch Interstellar. And someone yelling for me just after 6 in the morning.


Ok no idea this week. None at all. I do have cabbage and green beans though so that would make a nice noodle dish. I also promised to make mac and cheese, so I’m going to turn that into a baked mac and cheese with peas and bacon or something.


What Prisoners Eat (Lucky Peach) – kind of painful to read.

Top 14 Reasons Preschool Boys are like Drunk Old Men – so true

Where I find the time to read @ Pickle Me This – exactly!

Sign yourself up for Dewey’s Read-a-Thon, happening April 25!

Last week:

I read:

Pleasantville – Attica Locke

Four Souls – Louise Erdrich

I posted:

Library Loot

A Day in the Life of… A Stay-Home Mum 

Mildred Pierce

Top Ten Books from my Childhood

Hope you are having a great Monday!

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.


Moominvalley in November – Tove Jansson, translated by Kingsley Hart

Tove Jansson’s Moomin characters and books are admired the world over. In the United States the series beginning with Finn Family Moomintroll (first published in English in 1945) has accumulated generations of fans. Since Farrar, Straus and Giroux began reissuing the books in 1989, grateful readers old and new have been thrilled to have the stories available again. At last the final installment is being published – oddly, the only book that features none of the Moomin family themselves, though it does take place at their house. There familiar characters converge – Snufkin, the Hemulen, Fillyjonk, and others – seeking out the Moomins’ welcoming company, only to find them absent. All remain at the house, all have very different personalities that clash often, but something about their homey cohabitation during the icy winter changes each visitor in a gratifying way. As The Times Literary Supplement put it, Moominvalley in November is “possibly the cleverest of the Moomin books.”

Understanding Comics – Scott McCloud


Praised throughout the cartoon industry by such luminaries as Art Spiegelman, Matt Groening, and Will Eisner, this innovative comic book provides a detailed look at the history, meaning, and art of comics and cartooning.

The Sculptor – Scott McCloud


David Smith is giving his life for his art—literally. Thanks to a deal with Death, the young sculptor gets his childhood wish: to sculpt anything he can imagine with his bare hands. But now that he only has 200 days to live, deciding  what  to create is harder than he thought, and discovering the love of his life at the 11th hour isn’t making it any easier!

This is a story of desire taken to the edge of reason and beyond; of the frantic, clumsy dance steps of young love; and a gorgeous, street-level portrait of the world’s greatest city. It’s about the small, warm, human moments of everyday life…and the great surging forces that lie just under the surface. Scott McCloud wrote the book on how comics work; now he vaults into great fiction with a breathtaking, funny, and unforgettable new work

Kids’ loot:

The younger boy always makes sure there is a Thomas book in there somewhere….


A Day in the Life of… A Stay-Home Mum 


A Day in the Life is hosted by Trish at Love, Laughter and a Touch of Insanity! Thanks Trish!

  Do you really want to hear the very exciting life of a stay-home mum to two kids under four (F will be turning 4 next week, C will be two in April)? If so, read on for what a typical Tuesday is like for me! Warning: it’s really not exciting at all! It is March 24 2015, Tuesday. 555 alarm rings and I’m off to change and get ready for the day. 

610 I’m downstairs getting breakfast ready for the Husband and I. Toast this morning. A small slice of Brie. Tea for me. We browse the papers online – CNN for him, The Guardian and New York Times for me – as well as Facebook and emails, and tell each other interesting news
635 – he’s off to the Bart station and I have 25 minutes of alone time before I get the kids up. Thankfully it is all quiet on the monitor at the moment.
640 – spoke too soon. C, the almost-2, is calling Mummy mummy! I’m choosing to ignore him for the moment while I figure out what to pack for preschool lunch
650 – check on my blog post that’s scheduled for later this morning. I had written part of it on my tablet last night and need to add pictures
705 – back upstairs to get the kids going. They’re already up. It’s relatively quick today although the almost-4, F (pictured above), gets upset when I choose the ‘wrong’ sweater.
720 – we are down and ready for breakfast. The kids have milk and share a red bean bun today for a change from their usual cereal. F also has cheese.
800 – brush teeth and off to play with the train set in the den. They are at the age where they can play together peacefully for a bit. I clean up, wash their breakfast things and then sit down and drink some coffee and read some blogs. We are early today. Partly because it was something different for breakfast. And added bonus, C didn’t wet the bed so I didn’t have to change his sheets. He’s still in diapers and wears night diapers but pretty much every other day it leaks, I’m guessing because he’s a side sleeper.
815 – C says “come on Mummy, let’s go play!”. So I do.
830 – we get ready to go to school. Sunblock slapped on, toilet used, grab lunch bag, put kids in car.
840 – off to school
900 – home again home again. Try to convince C to play by himself while I wrap presents for F’s birthday next week. F is going to be four! I keep the scissors and tape out of his reach but let him play with the cardboard and leftover wrapping paper.
930 – manage to wrap two presents before C gets bored wants me to play.  We go upstairs and play with his Thomas trains and Lego duplo. And run around the house playing hide and seek.
1015 – I try to let him amuse himself while I cook vegetable soup with miso. And fish porridge. I end up having him sit in the high chair and stir some spoons around some pots and tupperware.
1115 – lunchtime
1145 – while C eats his fruits I get started on dinner prep. Tonight’s menu is slow cooker pot roast so I slice up onions, season the meat and sear it on the stove, transfer to the slow cooker, then add the onions and garlic to the pot on the stove, brown them a bit, add some chicken stock and vegetable soup, and a bit of tomato paste and spices. Then transfer everything to the crockpot
1215 – head to preschool to pick up F. I’m on time today but the kids are out early so there’s no need to wait
1245 – home again. F changes, finishes his lunch. He had carrot sticks and grapes left. Then he gets to eat some roasted chestnuts we had leftover from the weekend trip to Mitsuwa where there’s a stall selling fresh roasted chestnuts outside. The Husband can never resist!
130 – after cleaning up and putting away stuff we go upstairs to play and read books. C starts running around and we play hide and seek for a while. While the kids play together for a bit I send out some emails and sneak a peak at some comments on my latest blog post.
215 – I put C in bed, send F downstairs to play, and read his favourite Thomas books. Then we sing some songs and he tells me night night. Of course the moment the door closes he starts calling for me. This has been happening for the past week and a half. He used to be so good at naps before this and now seems to be having some separation anxiety. Having had a cold recently hasn’t helped. I decide to let him cry. I know he’s tired and if I go in there, like I did yesterday, he will just keep talking to me, even if I lie down and pretend to sleep.
225 – I head downstairs to check on F who asks me to help fix his new lego set (a Christmas present he was just allowed to open)
240 – I check the monitor and C seems to be asleep. Settle down at kitchen table with F to do his lego. I keep one eye on him and one eye on my Kindle. I’m reading Americanah at the moment. He’s working on a truck, which we had started on yesterday, and does pretty well at it but sometimes skips a step or places the piece wrongly so I get him to check each step with me
310 – Ok! Check the crockpot. Cut up some cabbage and celery and throw those in. Grab some cremini mushrooms and carrots and chop those up and throw them in. Then settle down to read a bit more while F plays with his just-fixed truck.
335 – well that was a short nap. Crying begins again. I give him about five minutes then head upstairs to get him. He’s very clingy and fussy. And has wet the bed. So much for the sheets then. He just wants me to carry him and when I leave the room he wails. Terrible twos. We play upstairs. With trains and Legos and books.
500 – Downstairs for some TV viewing aka my “leave me alone now!” time. I know what they say about under twos and TV but a stay-home mum needs a spare minute -or thirty every day. And that’s usually when I cook dinner. Today since dinner is already pretty much done in the slow cooker, the only thing I need to do is cook rice. Thanks rice cooker! While the rice is cooking and the kids occupied, I run outside and take in the rubbish bins (it’s trash day) and do some general tidying up around the house. And get things ready for dinner. Plates, utensils, cups. Then wash and cut fruits for the kids for after dinner. Finally I get to sit down for a bit, check email, Facebook, Instagram and Feedly.

600 – we run around the backyard for a while, watching airplanes and playing with pinwheels

630 – dinnertime. Pot roast with cabbage, carrots, mushrooms, celery. Served with brown rice. 

650 – the younger one is done with dinner. The older one is struggling. He keeps talking instead of eating and is staring into space now. But I think he’s pretending as he “wakes up” at the mention of cake. No there’s no cake.
655 – now C wants cake. He’s in the screamy stage so he screams for no reason I can understand. He refuses his grapes. Then wants them again. Then refuses. Then wants them again. F eats one grape then asks for a clementine. C throws his bib on the floor. I play the Thomas theme song and calm returns again.
710 – the kids drink milk, wash up and go play. I put dishes in the dishwasher, hand wash some other things like the kids’ plates. The dish out the food onto a plate for the husband and place the leftovers in Pyrex dishes for the fridge.
720 – hooray! The husband is back!  The kids play in the living room with some construction toys I’ve pulled out of the closet to occupy them.
745 – we all head upstairs to shower, story time and bed. C always wants his Thomas storybooks. F decides he wants a Cars (as in Pixar Cars) book and I also read an Eric Carle book about a hermit crab to both of them.
820 – we leave the room after singing some songs and saying goodnight. I go downstairs and clear the rubbish and make sure things are clean, doors are locked. The Husband heads back to the study to work more. It’s his busy season and he’s been working late even after he gets home, often till 10 or so. I’m off to shower, brush my teeth and all that. But first I check the monitor. F is quiet but C keeps calling, “wake up gege”. Gege means older brother in Mandarin
845 – I feel so much refreshed after the shower. And the kids are asleep. It’s finally peaceful in the house. Hooray! I settle down with House MD on the tablet and Attica Locke’s Pleasantville. And to write this post.
1030 – Goodnight!

Mildred Pierce

I was browsing the Amazon Prime videos one night. They’ve got a selection of HBO series these days, and one of them was the miniseries Mildred Pierce, starring Kate Winslet, Guy Pearce, Evan Rachel Wood. I watched it for a few minutes, the setting, the mood of the show was intriguing. Glendale California, 1931. Mildred Pierce is making a cake (always a good beginning in my book), her husband comes in, they argue about a woman he’s been seeing. He leaves.



But knowing that it was first a book, I stopped watching. I’m a reader first and a TV watcher second. So I might binge-rewatch one too many episodes of Gilmore Girls, but that usually happens in the background while I’m reading a book. (yes, I know, I really shouldn’t).

Off went the show, pulled up the Firefox and requested myself a copy from the library.





Of course the library copy had to have that Kate Winslet image on the cover! But I dug up some old covers just for you.

There is definitely an emphasis on the ‘passion’ in these two, although the first one kind of says “she’s having an affair” or “here, let’s turn your back to the door so that my partner-in-crime there can knock you senseless with his fist”. I can’t quite tell with the expressions on those men’s faces.

“Well, you’ve joined the biggest army on earth. You’re the great American institution that never gets mentioned on the Fourth of July — a grass widow with two small children to support.”

At any rate, Mildred Pierce is separated from her husband. She now has two kids to support – darling little Ray (her name is Moire but no one ever calls her that), and grown-up-too-fast Veda, snooty, who wants only what the rich kids want. Her husband’s real estate business has pretty much gone under although he still aspires for a better life. Mildred takes on a waitressing job, at first despairing at having her children know that she has to wear a uniform and wait on tables (and have her legs felt up). So she doesn’t tell them about it until Veda finds out. Then somehow gathers enough to start up her own restaurant – chicken, waffles and pie. And business takes off. Her life seems to be blossoming. She meets a rich playboy. Veda takes up the piano. She slogs away at the restaurant. Everything she does is for her children. And perhaps it is all too much.

Ugh that Veda. She really is that kind of character you just have to dislike. Yes, she is a terror, and yes, Mildred had her hand in that. But Veda is so very pretentious and vicious and hateful despite what seems like a pleasant enough middle-class upbringing. The LA Review of Books called her “the single most hideous offspring in modern literature”. (This article by the way, has some fun insights into James M Cain’s background). And the movie version, starring Joan Crawford, even turned Veda into a murderer.

Although the movie takes a rather dramatic departure from the book, Cain’s tale of suburban noir is masterful and dark and is the kind of story that makes you wonder what secrets your neighbours hide. In Mildred’s case, there is passion for sure, affairs and such, plenty of alcohol although Prohibition is going on. But despite all that sunshine in the Golden State, there is a shadow that looms over the Pierce family.

In an interview with the Paris Review in 1977, Cain said that his books are love stories:

“This girl came to interview me the other day. She must have spent the whole trip thinking up the question: How do I see myself as part of the Literature of Violence? I take no interest in violence. There’s more violence in Macbeth and Hamlet than in my books. I don’t write whodunits. You can’t end a story with the cops getting the killer. I don’t think the law is a very interesting nemesis. I write love stories. The dynamics of a love story are almost abstract. The better your abstraction, the more it comes to life when you do it—the excitement of the idea lurking there. Algebra. Suspense comes from making sure your algebra is right. Time is the only critic. If your algebra is right, if the progression is logical, but still surprising, it keeps.”


Mildred Pierce was a surprisingly good read. It was a great depiction of life in America in the 1930s – Depression, Prohibition and all those times of struggle. But what I liked most was that it was a story of suburban life, the desperation and despair, the hope and helplessness, the successes and the sadness. I guess I never quite expected that it would be a story that I would feel that desperate need to finish, to read through the night and put it down and think, ok I really need to write about this in the hopes that someone else would see this post of mine and read the book and like it too.

And let me say it again: fried chicken, waffles and pie.



cainJames M Cain (July 1, 1892 – October 27, 1977) was born in Maryland. He wanted to be a singer but his mother, an opera singer, told him his voice wasn’t good enough. So after college, he wrote for Baltimore American and then the Baltimore Sun. 




Our Government (1930)
The Postman Always Rings Twice (1934)
Serenade (1937)
Mildred Pierce (1941)
Love’s Lovely Counterfeit (1942)
Career in C Major and Other Stories (1943)
Double Indemnity (1943) (first published in Liberty Magazine, 1936)
The Embezzler (1944) (first published as Money and the Woman, Liberty Magazine, 1938)
Past All Dishonor (1946)
The Butterfly (1947)
The Moth (1948)
Sinful Woman (1948)
Jealous Woman (1950)
The Root of His Evil (1951) (also published as Shameless)
Galatea (1953)
Mignon (1962)
The Magician’s Wife (1965)
Rainbow’s End (1975)
The Institute (1976)
The Baby in the Icebox (1981); short stories
Cloud Nine (1984)
The Enchanted Isle (1985)
The Cocktail Waitress


I read this book for the Back to the Classics Challenge - A Classic with a Person’s Name in the Title

Top Ten Books from my Childhood



This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic from the Broke and the Bookish is:

Top 10 Books From My Childhood That I Would Love To Revisit

I grew up in Singapore, which was a former British settlement, and we are still influenced by British culture quite a bit. So as a kid I read a lot of Enid Blyton.


The Wishing Chair

The Children of Willow Farm

Such magical stories! It’s not easy to find these Enid Blyton titles in the libraries here (although there are plenty of Secret Seven and Famous Five books), so I’m going to have to try to find them elsewhere! Book Depository perhaps.


Ballet Shoes – Noel Streatfeild

I just bought myself the sweetest copy from Book Outlet the other day. And am so pleased with it! I can’t wait to read it again!



Charlotte’s Web – EB White 

I bought a copy from an independent bookstore in Palo Alto last year, intending to read it out loud to Wee Reader but I haven’t yet managed to do it. Part of me hesitates because it’s so sad!!


Just as Long as We’re Together – Judy Blume

It’s hard to pick a favourite Judy Blume book. I loved Deenie and Tiger Eyes and Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself. But this was probably one of the Judy Blume books I reread the most.


The Story about Ping – Marjorie Flack, Kurt Wiese (Illustrator)

Thanks to the frustration magic of having children, I’ve been able to revisit some of my childhood favourites already. Like this story about a little yellow duck who lives on the Yangtze River. I remember that we had our own copy as a kid and I rather adored it.


Popcorn – Frank Asch

I picked up our very own copy at the library book sale last year. I was so very pleased as I was rather fond of this book as a kid.


The BFG – Roald Dahl, illustrated by Quentin Blake

I tried to read this to Wee Reader a year or so ago – which was a bit of a mistake as it begins with a dark night and a creature creeping around! I’m going to try again this year.


A Little Princess – France’s Hodgson Burnett

Oh poor little Sara Crewe. I can’t remember when I first read this but I was quite devoted to Sara Crewe. I’m not sure why, as thinking about it now I realize how sad the story is. An orphan. A horrible woman runs the school and treats her like crap when the news breaks. It looks like I’m going to have to reread this with my 30something eyes.


Anne of Green Gables – L M Montgomery

How my sister and I adored Anne – the book and the TV series! She’s so much fun to read. Ok I really want to go read this now…

Monday? 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.





Well that was some week. My almost-two is having some separation anxiety issues (well at least that’s what I think it is!). As a result nap time has been a disaster for most of the week. And to top it off, he caught a cold so that made things worse. Sigh…


Most of my afternoons were spent sitting by his bed and getting him to nap.






It is Sunday evening and the husband is making sushi. Thankfully the little guy is doing much better today. Still a bit fussy, didn’t nap much although he’s tired. But at least there’s no fever and a far less leaky nose. Hooray!





We also managed to go out for some ramen at Santouka Ramen in San Jose. And checked out the Kinokuniya too!




americanahAmericanah – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie


Pleasantville – Attica Locke

For an upcoming book tour


Four Souls – Louise Erdrich


The Life of a Banana – PP Wong



House MD


The Stills – Logic will break your heart


Eating:   Sushi

Drinking:    Leftover wonton soup


This week’s possible menu includes claypot rice with stir fried garlicky spinach; baked pasta with chicken and broccoli; pot roast. So far that’s all I’ve got.



My country’s founding father, Lee Kuan Yew, died on March 23. And I’ve been reading what the international media has to say about him, including:

The AtlanticForbesThe Guardian; Channel News Asia


It is Once Upon a Time time! I’ll try to put up an actual post later this week. Are you joining in?

How to recommend a book

Food52’s essential baked goods to master

Joy the Baker tells us exactly how to brown butter

I so want to eat these Mashed Banana Fritters

How to build a better butter cake over at King Arthur Flour has some great tips for cake making.

Last week:

I read:


Edward Scissorhands Vol 1: Parts Unknown – by Kate Leth, Drew Rausch (Illustrator)

Hinges Vol 1: Clockwork City – Meredith McClaren

Rot and Ruin Vol 1: Razor Smart –  Jonathan Maberry


Mildred Pierce – James M Cain

March Book Two – John Robert Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves – Karen Joy Fowler
I posted:

Comics Sunday: Edward Scissorhands; Hinges; Rot and Ruin

Weekend Cooking: still loving my bread machine, three months later

Library Loot

Top ten books on my spring TBR list

Comics Sunday: Edward Scissorhands; Hinges; Rot and Ruin




Edward Scissorhands Vol 1: Parts Unknown – by Kate Leth, Drew Rausch (Illustrator)

I had such high hopes for Edward Scissorhands. Perhaps too high. I was looking for expecting a whimsical delight, a dark fairy tale, as I sort of remember the movie to be.

The story continues two generations after the movie, and stars Meg, Kim’s granddaughter who is curious about her grandmother and Edward. Edward is accused of hurting a kid and the town hunts him down. Again.

I was a bit disappointed that the artwork was more cute than the cover made it out to be. Nothing wrong with cute illustrations, i just prefer less-cute! It does have some nice detailing and great use of colours though.




Hinges Vol 1: Clockwork City – Meredith McClaren

Hinges is set in a made-up world where citizens are grown, given a choice of “odds” (kind of like their familiars, made me think of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series and daemons) and sent out to find their role in society.

Now this was the kind of cute whimsy that I was expecting from Edward Scissorhands. The main character doesn’t say much and to be honest the story doesn’t really seem to have much pull. The art direction also confused me in some panels. I wondered if it was because I was reading it as an e-book version on my tablet. But this wasn’t my first e-comic. Yet it was the first time I had to stare and re-stare at more than one panel, relook the rest of the page, and wonder, what am I looking at?? In one case it was a close-up, I think, but I didn’t really see the point of the close-up. It made me a little frustrated and confused at points. It was a cute story but it wasn’t really propelling me toward reading more.




Rot and Ruin Vol 1: Razor Smart –  Jonathan Maberry

Ok so another comic set in a zombie-infested world. This time the main characters are four teens, one of whom wields a samurai squad. Oh and they’re not zombies, their “zoms”.

For me, The Walking Dead is probably THE zombie comic or zombie anything really, especially since I’ve gotten further with the TV show than the comics. So reading this one was a bit tricky. I was trying hard to be fair and not compare it to The Walking Dead all the time. There are a lot of similarities of course as zombies are pretty much zombies wherever you go. This one is set in California and they start out living in Yosemite. I kind of wish they had shown more of Yosemite! But the kids move on, trying to find a plane they saw. And after finding a zom-infested hospital, they end up on a farm, a well-secured place with beds and toilet paper and a secret. Of course there’s always a secret hiding in the barn that has armed guards in front of it. It was however a bit different from what I was expecting and so I was intrigued enough to keep reading. However a part of my jaded 30-something self doesn’t fully buy the whole four teens on their own thing. I’m on the fence about this one!

So three comics from NetGalley this week, and I was just wanting a bit more from each of them. One I had too high expectations for (my inner teenager was very disappointed and thus, rather angsty). One was beautiful and whimsical but a bit confusing – it really needed more exposition. And the last, because it was yet another zombie story, needed to push the envelope more than it did. 

Weekend Cooking: still loving my bread machine, three months later


I had bread machines on my mind for months. A friend had gotten one for Mothers Day last year and adored having fresh bread regularly and easily.

I hemmed and I hawed.

I had been making bread, using the dough hook on my Kitchenaid to do the heavy kneading. All that rising and waiting and rising and more waiting though, that was the tricky part, especially with two littles around.

Excuses I know! But while bread making isn’t all that difficult, many of the better recipes do require time in the kitchen. And by time I mean an hour rising here, a bit of kneading after, then another hour of rising or twenty minutes of resting. That kind of thing. Where it is somewhat necessary to be around the house for most of the morning or afternoon.


I adore The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum which I’ve used for a variety of breads like a plain hearth bread to olive bread, beer bread and more. And many of her recipes require this mix of resting and rising and shaping and rising over several hours. All this is what creates that wonderful delectable bread.

I used the popular no-knead bread recipe from Jim Lahey of the Sullivan Street Bakery before that (and if you’re brand-new to bread making I’d still highly recommend it!) but wanted to try different breads, different textures and tastes, of the kneaded variety.


So the bread machine? Let’s just say a year-end special won me over. The price fell below $100 and with a click of a button, I was the owner of a bread machine – the Panasonic SD-YD250!

It sure took up quite a bit of space on my kitchen counter.

But to be able to throw in some ingredients and let a machine work its magic was just simply awesome. Sure the breads were always of the same shape and required slicing by my unsteady hand but hey, fresh bread every day!

I was so used to letting the machine do all the work – mixing, kneading, rising, baking. The only thing I could never do right with the machine was work its “French bread” cycle. The bread always gets stuck in the pan after that cycle! It requires a lot of digging with my silicone spatula before the bread jiggles out.

But something was missing! I missed those oddly shaped breads I used to churn out – odd because my shaping of bread needs a lot of work!

So I’ve returned to making my odd loaves. I use the dough cycle to mix and knead and do some resting and rising. But now am giving shaping and rising another go on my own. To some success!




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


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.

Wee-er Reader and I popped into the library before heading to pick up his big brother from preschool. Of course just about fifteen minutes after we get there, me carrying around one stack of kids’ books, he refusing to let go of two Thomas books he had already read (or been read to), I smell something and realize we have to go get his diaper changed. So I zoom us to the Holds shelves, grab my books, zoom us to the checkout machines and then off to the car. We make it to preschool pickup with plenty of time to spare. Phew.




I’m quite looking forward to March Book Two by John Lewis & Andrew Aydin (art by Nate Powell) as I really liked March Book One. Rani Manicka’s The Rice Mother is something I’ve been meaning to read for a while. It’s set in Ceylon and Malaysia. John O’Hara’s three novels – Appointment in Samarra, Butterfield 8, Hope of Heaven – are collected in one book. I’ve never read anything by him before so I’ve been curious.




I’ve been waiting for this hold for months!



Kids’ loot: