Weekend Cooking: Eating Singapore part 1

Singapore is often described as “cosmopolitan” and a “melting pot” of cultures and the variety of food found here certainly reflects that.

These days, living in the suburbs of the San Francisco Bay Area, I’m pretty spoilt for choices when it comes to Asian food. There’s Korean, Vietnamese, Thai, Taiwanese, Cantonese, Indian and Pakistani foods available. But in Singapore the variety of Chinese restaurants is wider, with plenty of Hokkien and Teochew restaurants as well as Singapore’s own blend of unique dishes. Not to mention all the cafes (and finally, good flat whites!), and other cuisines like Italian, French, German and more.

So for the past five days that I’ve been here, there’s been so much eating. I wish I could tell you everything I’ve been eating but that’s probably way too much – you could check out my Instagram feed (olduvaireads) for more!

Putu Piring or steamed cakes made of rice flour with gula Melaka inside and topped with fresh grated coconut

Chendol is an icy dessert with red beans, pandan jelly , coconut milk and Gula Melaka

The rice dumplings or zongzi in Singapore is a bit different – a sweet-salty stewed pork is nestled within the rice

There are yakitori restaurants in the Bay Area too so this one was may have been more memorable because of the company!

The truth is, I have never really gotten used to the very bread-like doughs of pizzas in the US. So I was extremely happy to eat this thin-crusted, almost flaky pizza at Etna

Carrot Cake from Cedele. Yup that very American cake

Other things consumed but not photographed well or photographed at all – the other kind of carrot cake, the fried one. Hokkien mee. Roti prata. Chicken rice. Duck rice. Chwee Kueh. Fish noodles. Braised duck. Sushi.

And the eating continues!


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

Weekend Cooking: Books for little foodies


Do you have a little foodie in your house? I’ve been trying to cultivate my four-year-old’s palate ever since he was born.

We’ve had a lot of problems with food early on. He had really bad eczema all over his face and arms ever since he was a few months old and finally we took him for allergy testing – first blood then when he was a bit older, skin. And discovered that he’s allergic to tree nuts and peanuts. And initially eggs and wheat too. You wouldn’t know he had eczema today though. A combination of bleach baths, steroids, lots of moisturizing and regular visits with allergists and dermatologists, at least for the first couple of years of his life.

His first skin test


The first time he broke out in hives. It still happens once in a while, due more to high temperatures than with food


So we spent the first couple of years of his life worrying about his diet. We managed to slowly introduce eggs and wheat into his diet and he’s no longer allergic to eggs and wheat. Nuts are of course a different matter. So for a kid with allergies, or really, for a four-year-old in general, he’s done exceptionally well for his age I reckon, as he is wiling to try new things, like smoked salmon. His favourite meals include avocado sushi, mac and cheese, He’s also the kid who says “yay! Roasted cauliflower!” when he hears what’s for dinner. Asked to name his favourite vegetables and he includes Brussels sprouts, corn and edamame. We generally eat together as a family and I don’t make separate meals for the kids but I do try to come up with a variety of different styles of foods, pasta one day, rice, meat, veg the next, noodles, that kind of thing.


He loves his carbs

I also have a two-year-old and he is in an absolute anti-vegetable stage at the moment. I have only recently managed to get him to like eating baby carrots again, after serving it with Japanese mayonnaise. He’s a funny one, he’s kind of like an old Asian man, telling me today that the leftover birthday cake was “too cold”. He has had a love for soups – clear, Asian-style soup – since he was 1.5. He prefers to eat rice instead of baked potatoes and loves noodles.


Anyway, about those books, I recently picked up Bee-bim Bop! by Linda Sue Park and illustrated by Ho Baek Lee from the library book sale. It’s a fun little book about a girl and her family preparing beebimbop (bibimbap?) and then sitting down to eat it for dinner. There’s even a recipe for bibimbap at the back of the book. Of course after reading it, the kids asked for it for dinner. I’ve made it several times before but this time they really seemed to like it. I made it with beef, carrots, eggs, mushrooms and peas and corn.

 Then I started thinking of all those foodie books for kids that we’ve borrowed in the past few years.


Minette’s Feast: The Delicious Story of Julia Child and Her Cat, by Susanna Reich and Amy Bales

Told from the point of view of Julia Child’s cat! It has a rustic, handpainted, almost vintage look to its illustrations. And by that I mean, it seems more geared towards adults than younger children.


Dim Sum for Everyone – Grace Lin

The family goes out for dim sum and everyone gets to choose their favourite dish. Simple language, colourful drawings. A hit with my kids.



For babies, there are foodie board books like My First Book of Sushi by Amy Wilson Sanger. Sanger isn’t just doing books about sushi, she’s also written books about dim sum, Italian food, Indian food, soul food and more. The rhymes are simple and the pictures colourful, just right for little ones.


LMNO Peas – Keith Baker

Peas are the stars of this alphabet book



Round is a mooncake and Green is a chile pepper– Roseanne Thong

We’ve not yet read Green is a chile pepper but Thong uses different cultures to demonstrate these concepts – shapes and colours.

In the Night kitchen – Maurice Sendak

A classic, and lots of fun


Max makes a cake – Michelle Edwards ; illustrated by Charles Santoso

And not just any cake, a surprise Passover birthday cake for his mummy! It involves a lot of frosting, so my older son was very pleased.


Frank Asch has also written a few food-related books, like


I loved this book as a kid and was delighted to find a copy at my library’s book sale




Monica Wellington is another children’s book author who has a few food-related ones:

crepes cookiebaker


There are plenty of other books that I’ve come across, but that we’ve not yet read, like


Julia, Child – Kyo Maclear  (Author), Julie Morstad (Illustrator)




What are some foodie picture books that you’ve come across lately? 

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

Recent Reads: Kira-kira; Summer of the Big Bachi




Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata

kira-kira (kee ra kee ra): glittering; shining Glittering. That’s how Katie Takeshima’s sister, Lynn, makes everything seem. The sky is kira-kira because its color is deep but see-through at the same time. The sea is kira-kira for the same reason. And so are people’s eyes.
When Katie and her family move from a Japanese community in Iowa to the Deep South of Georgia, it’s Lynn who explains to her why people stop on the street to stare. And it’s Lynn who, with her special way of viewing the world, teaches Katie to look beyond tomorrow.
But when Lynn becomes desperately ill, and the whole family begins to fall apart, it is up to Katie to find a way to remind them all that there is always something glittering — kira-kira — in the future.

I wasn’t planning to cry during the Readathon. I wasn’t expecting this book to be such a sad one. You’re probably thinking, wait, doesn’t that synopsis already imply that it will be a sad story? I suppose if I had actually read it, I would have known that to be the case. But I’m not really one for reading of synopses. I don’t really like to know very much about the story before I read it. I saw the copy at the library sale and knew that I was meant to take it home and read this book that very day.

“We were poor, but in the way Japanese are poor, meaning we never borrowed money from anyone, period. Meaning once a year we bought as many fifty-pound bags of rice as we could afford, and we didn’t get nervous again about money until we reached our last bag.”

It is, as many YA books are, a story about growing up, about learning to love yourself and become your own person, and overcome adversity and all that. But what I thought was unique and memorable was its setting – Georgia in the 1950s, specifically a town called Chesterfield with a population of 4,001, of which 31 were Japanese, and all the Japanese dads worked at the hatchery in a nearby town. Life here for Katie and her family is a struggle, a struggle to fit in with the rest of the kids, a struggle to find enough money to support the family, buy a house, and figure out what’s wrong with Lynn.


In Japanese, bachi was when you snapped at your wife, and then tripped on a rock in the driveway. You didn’t suffer your punishment in another lifetime, but within the same life, even within the next few minutes.

Coincidentally (or maybe not), I had read a book about Japanese-Americans just a few weeks before. Naomi Hirahara’s Summer of the Big Bachi is set in Southern California in the 1990s, but with the specter of Hiroshima still lingering. Mas Arai is a gardener, a widower, a gambler, just someone trying to get by. But one day a stranger comes knocking and asking questions about someone Mas once knew back in Hiroshima, all those decades ago, and, yup, those secrets are coming out, and people are getting hurt.

The heyday of the Japanese gardener had passed them by years ago. Once, there had been hundreds of them on the front lawns of practically all Southern California homes and businesses. Now they were replaced by their former helpers, the Mexicans, with shiny new trucks, eager family members, and cut-rate prices.

Unlike Kira-kira, where Katie and Lynn were born in America, Mas Arai and his friends are Issei, or immigrants born in Japan

(Author Naomi Hirahara pointed out in a tweet that Mas is actually Kibei!)

Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 8.18.53 AM

Keiko continued, “We don’t fit in here; don’t fit in there. If you don’t go back by the time you’re thirty, it’s too late. America’s fully corrupted you.

Hirahara writes mystery stories, but this is also a story about the Southern California and its Japanese community. You probably know that I’m a bit of a foodie so it always makes me happy to see writers include insights about stuff their characters eat, or in this case, used to eat. It doesn’t have to be fine dining, it could be just as simple as this version of a greasy spoon:

When Mari was growing up, they went to only one restaurant: Entoro in Little Tokyo. Entoro was also known as Far East Café, a chop suey house, the old kind before the new Chinese came to town. There, you got greasy homyu, looking like day-old Cream of Wheat in a tiny bowl; almond duck, slippery, fat, and buttery, with a crunch of fried skin and nuts; and real sweet and sour pork, bright, stinking orange like the best high-grade motor oil. Everyone went to Entoro, crowded around tables separated by wooden dividers like a giant maze of horse stalls.

I just wish I had read these in time to post it for Diversiverse!

It’s Monday and we have rain!!

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.



I woke up in the middle of the night to hear that glorious sound of pitter patter at the windows. There was rain and by the sound of it, quite a decent amount. And now at 930 am as I type this, it’s still drizzling. Hooray hooray! One day of rain is hardly enough to end a drought but hey, let’s celebrate the fact that it is grey and gloomy and the roads are wet and slippery!

So what happened last weekend? SO MUCH.

 Friday was the preschool’s Halloween parade. The four-year-old was a pilot, the two-year-old a train engineer. They kind of stood out among the Superman(s), Captain(s) America, Elsas in the school.

I made risotto on Friday

Checking for spiders


What’s that??

Train engineer inspects trains at Target


Saturday dinner

Trick or treat!

The Husband is a Halloween baby so we had a double celebration of sorts. Saturday lunch at our favourite izakaya place or as the kids call it, the “funny place”. Funny because they get to take off their shoes and sit at the low table, which has a recess underneath for the legs. Added bonus: the place was decorated for Halloween with spiders and cobwebs and skeletons. So they were especially thrilled.

I also made a black forest cake for the Husband. I’m terrible at decorating – and was also pressed for time with my two kids around! But it made for a yummy cake all the same.

Saturday night saw us trick or treating in our neighbourhood. The boys had fun ringing doorbells and knocking on doors. One neighbour even gave out little toys along with candy, and another gave out shells too. The two fellows were very pleased. And when we returned home, they looted our own treats, which we had left on our doorstep while we were out.


Looting their own house

So Sunday was comparatively mellow, lunch out, running around the house making a mess, that kind of thing.









Good stuff. But I feel like I’m reading slower these days. I will admit that Fates and Furies isn’t quite driving me on to keep reading. It’s good writing but it’s not very exciting. But I did read somewhere that the second half is better. So we will see.


Downton Abbey!


Black forest cake




Nothing today. We’ve got Thai food leftovers from yesterday – crispy garlic fish, crabmeat fried rice, pad see ew. As well as random leftovers from the week!

Pork chops with cabbage

Beef and broccoli with rice. Also fried tofu. Yum.

Last week:

I read:

Inheritance – Lan Samantha Chang
Barracuda – Christos Tsiolkas
I posted:

Mendocino Fire

Library Loot faves

Library Loot faves

wandering whale sharks

Wandering Whale Sharks – Susumu Shingu, translated by Ann B. Cary and Yasuko Shingu

Meet the world’s largest living fish: the whale shark. With a back like a mountain range and a body that creates an enormous, looming shadow in the ocean below him, the whale shark is an exceptionally gentle giant—and yet it is relatively unknown. This informational picture book introduces readers to these stunning creatures in spare, poetic text. It’s a lyrical meditation that gives a sense of the whale shark’s slow, grand journey through the Earth’s oceans while creating an opportunity for inquiry and awe. Deep blue sketch illustrations play with perspective and seem to move with the natural energy of wind and water. The book ends with a factual page about whale sharks, which can be found in all tropical seas, and have been spotted off the coast of several countries around the world, including South Africa, Australia, India, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Mexico. Readers will come away with a well-formed sense of wonder and respect as they leave the whale shark to continue his leisurely journey.

The text is simple and poetic, often just a sentence to each page. And the illustrations are stunning, with its palate of blues, whites and blacks. An absolutely gorgeous book.

Shingu has another book available in English, Traveling Butterflies. Sadly my library doesn’t seem to have it.

Mr Postmouse’s Rounds – Marianne Dubuc

Mr. Postmouse has loaded up his wagon and is ready to deliver the mail. From the lofty heights of the Birds’ tree houses to the inky depths of Mrs. Octopus’s ship, the intrepid letter carrier lets nothing stand in the way of his deliveries. Each spread features whimsically detailed interiors of creatures’ homes, which readers will pore over for delightful surprises. This is a charming introduction to the postal system and an imaginative survey of different types of homes.

As an adult, I love these kinds of books with little details to pore over. And so do my kids. They had fun pointing out all the little details that made each house different. Colourful, vibrant, lots of fun.


The Gingerbread Man loose on the fire truck – Laura Murray ; illustrated by Mike Lowery

Guess who gets to go along on a field trip to the firehouse? The Gingerbread Man! But when he falls out of his classmate’s pocket, Spot the Dalmatian comes sniffing around. Luckily, this Gingerbread Man is one smart cookie, and he races into the fire truck, up the pole, and all through the station, staying one step ahead of the hungry dog the whole time.Then an emergency call comes in and the Gingerbread Man knows just what to do:

“I’ll ride to the rescue, as fast as I can.

I want to help, too! I’m the Gingerbread Man!”

With snappy rhymes and fresh illustrations, the Gingerbread Man makes a sweet return in his second school adventure. Includes a poster with fire safety tips and activities.

Children’s books are all about reading out loud – at least to my kids’ age group of 2 and 4. So I really appreciate a good rhyme. And this one was just that. I’ve had to read some rather awkward rhymes in books (I’m looking at you, Sam, Sebbi and Di-di-di), so it was a true delight to read the Gingerbread man. Good news! The Gingerbread Man is also loose in school and at Christmas, so there’s plenty more to read.

Mendocino Fire


You have to want to write, but love you can do without wanting: which makes it sound as if it’s the simpler thing.


I thought I knew my authors but Elizabeth Tallent was an unfamiliar name. I was instead attracted to its title, more Mendocino than Fire.

The book and I got off to a rocky start. The first couple of stories weren’t connecting with me, but when I got to Mystery Caller, I just wanted to stop and read it and then reread it all over again. Because that was a story that just worked for me, it just clicked right into place and I knew that this story – even if none of the other stories worked for me – that this story would make things alright.

Ten years later, this can happen to her: someone can set his coffee cup down on the counter instead of in its saucer, and she can, for that, love him.

Other stories, like Eros 101, weren’t quite so much my style:

Q: Examine the proposition that for each of us, however despairing over past erotic experience, there exists a soul mate.

A: Soul? In some fluorescent lab an egg’s embryonic smear cradles a lozenge of silicon, the vampiric chip electromagnetically quickened by a heartbeat, faux-alive, while in a Bauhaus bunker on the far side of campus, a researcher coaxes Chopin from a virtual violin, concluding with a bow to her audience of venture capitalists, but for true despair, please turn to Prof. Clio Mitsak, at a dinner party in her honor, lasting late this rainy winter night, nine other women at the table, women only, for the evening’s covert (and mistaken: you’ll see) premise is that the newly hired Woolf scholar will, from her angelic professional height and as homage to VW, scheme to advance all female futures, and the prevailing mood has been one of preemptive gratitude, gratitude as yet unencumbered by actual debt and therefore flirtatious, unirksome even to Clio, its object.


Yup that’s one long sentence. But goodness, the way Tallent writes, it makes me envious. It is elegant and evocative, her observations of every day life.

Her husband has taken the twins to soccer practice. She wants them gone, and they will be – rarely does domestic life offer such a happy intersection of desire and circumstance.

To be honest, at times while I was reading these stories, I wondered if I were just not literary, not learned enough to fully appreciate this book. It felt like these stories are meant to be dissected, analyzed by lit students, by creative writing MFAs and writing workshop participants.

(Or perhaps it was just the way I was rushing through this collection of stories, needing to read them in order to write this post. Or perhaps it was just the state of mind I was in while reading them. Because sometimes you just need to be in the right frame of mind to be reading certain books. And these days my mind seems to be framing me towards comics and SF/fantasy.)

But back to Mendocino Fire – is there something there for the rest of us? Yes, from the fishing community to the redwoods to the cafe on Telegraph Avenue, the stories are about all of us. The fears and hopes we have about our relationships, that secret desire to call an ex and listen in on their background noise to figure out what’s been going on in their lives, that dreadful knowing that a loved one is on his last breaths. Old love, new love. Loss, desire. Pain and suffering, joy and happiness.



Elizabeth-TallentElizabeth Tallent is the author of the story collections Honey, In Constant Flight, and Time with Children, and the novel Museum Pieces. Since 1994 she has taught in the Creative Writing program at Stanford University. She lives on the Mendocino coast of California.

tlc logo

I received this book for review from its publisher and TLC Book Tours 

Check out the rest of the tour stops

Tuesday, October 20th: Books on the Table
Friday, October 23rd: Bibliotica
Monday, October 26th: A Bookish Way of Life
Tuesday, October 27th: Back Porchervations
Wednesday, October 28th: Olduvai Reads
Thursday, October 29th: she treads softly
Friday, October 30th: M. Denise Costello
Tuesday, November 3rd: Read. Write. Repeat.
Wednesday, November 4th: Worth Getting in Bed For
Thursday, November 5th: Imaginary Reads
Friday, November 6th: Raven Haired Girl
Monday, November 9th: Lavish Bookshelf
Tuesday, November 10th: Dreams, Etc.
Wednesday, November 11th: You Can Read Me Anything
Thursday, November 12th: The Well-Read Redhead
Friday, November 13th: Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews

It’s Tuesday! And I’m doing swimmingly with Barracuda

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.




Ugh, so as I type this it is still Monday. At least for the next few hours. I think the week – and then the weekend – took a toll on me with regards to updates. With grandparents visiting, one after the other, I’ve had the good fortune to have help with the kids. So last week was the first in a long while that it’s just been me and the kids. Oh yeah, there’s the Husband too, but as he leaves before they wake up, and gets back in time to eat dinner, shower the kids and put them to bed, it’s pretty much me and the kids for the better part of the day. And these are good kids, but they’re boys so they’re noisy and silly and running around and shouty-screamy. So I do a lot of grimacing and trying not to yell at them, not always succeeding at that. I do have three glorious hours to myself when they’re in school. But sometimes I get so caught up in doing housework and figuring meals out and trying to maximize my time that I just feel like I’m not doing very much at all.

Anyway, Saturday was spent mostly at home, as the Husband was working from home. And I was frankly just too tired after that week to attempt doing much with the kids. But we did manage to hit the lovely Gilroy Gardens on Sunday. The weather was perfect, not too hot, it wasn’t too crowded and the lines weren’t too long. So we had a nice time, well, that is if you don’t count the two-year-old having to be carried off the first few rides as he didn’t want to get off!



Leafy and green. Is it autumn or what?


We did have a great dinner of xiaolongbao, milk buns, wonton soup, pork chop rice and more in Milpitas on Saturday. Also I made Canadian bacon and zucchini pizza, which the kids happily ate up, so that’s always makes my day.





diving bell

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly – Jean-Dominique Bauby

Sadly the cover I have is the ugly movie version. I bought this book at a library book sale a year ago I think and never got to it. I read about half of it on the way to Gilroy Gardens on Sunday.


Barracuda – Christos Tsiolkas

I love this cover. And I love how the main character is a swimmer although I have to admit I was hesitant because I was a bit on the fence about The Slap.


Tomorrowland. Well at least the first half of it. And then I got bored and went to sleep. It’s a visually stunning show though, if that’s your thing.





Green tea


Chicken rice and stir-fried baby bok choy

Panko-crusted pork chops, mashed potatoes and cabbage

Some noodle dish with beef and vegetables. Maybe with gravy, or more like a pad thai style, I haven’t quite figured out yet.

Last week:

I read:


Six Suspects – Vikas Swarup
Ms Marvel Vol 3: Crushed – G. Willow Wilson, Mark Waid, Takeshi Miyazawa (Artist), Elmo Bondoc (Artist), Humberto Ramos (Illustrator)
We can fix it: a time travel memoir – Jess Fink

I posted:

Library Loot – Fates and Furies; Ms Marvel! Whee!

Post-readathon slump!

Readathon reads: Bitch Planet; The Collector

Ok a bit of a slipshod job this one, but I’ll be back with more another day.



Library Loot – Fates and Furies; Ms Marvel! Whee!

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.


So I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump this past week. And decided that a library trip, one in which I actually get books for myself and not just the kids, was in order. Whee!


Ms Marvel Vol 3: Crushed – G. Willow Wilson, Mark Waid, Takeshi Miyazawa (Artist), Elmo Bondoc (Artist), Humberto Ramos (Illustrator)

Love is in the air in Jersey City as Valentine’s Day arrives! Kamala Khan may not be allowed to go to the school dance, but Ms. Marvel is! Well sort of–by crashing it in an attempt to capture Asgard’s most annoying trickster! Yup, it’s a special Valentine’s Day story featuring Marvel’s favorite charlatan, Loki! And when a mysterious stranger arrives in Jersey City, Ms. Marvel must deal with…a crush! Because this new kid is really, really cute. What are these feelings, Kamala Khan? Prepare for drama! Intrigue! Romance! Suspense! Punching things! All this and more! The fan-favorite, critically acclaimed, amazing new series continues as Kamala Khan proves why she’s the best (and most adorable) new super hero there is! Plus, see what happens when S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Jemma Simmons goes undercover at Kamala’s school!



Fates and Furies – Lauren Groff

I had been hemming and hawing over borrowing this e-book, but eventually joined the library queue for it. Then I went to the library and spotted it among the “It’s Your Lucky Day” shelves, where popular books are set out, just no renewals and whatnot. So it was indeed my lucky day. And I better get started on reading this one soon!

Fates and Furies is a literary masterpiece that defies expectation. A dazzling examination of a marriage, it is also a portrait of creative partnership written by one of the best writers of her generation.

Every story has two sides. Every relationship has two perspectives. And sometimes, it turns out, the key to a great marriage is not its truths but its secrets. At the core of this rich, expansive, layered novel, Lauren Groff presents the story of one such marriage over the course of twenty-four years.

At age twenty-two, Lotto and Mathilde are tall, glamorous, madly in love, and destined for greatness. A decade later, their marriage is still the envy of their friends, but with an electric thrill we understand that things are even more complicated and remarkable than they have seemed. With stunning revelations and multiple threads, and in prose that is vibrantly alive and original, Groff delivers a deeply satisfying novel about love, art, creativity, and power that is unlike anything that has come before it. Profound, surprising, propulsive, and emotionally riveting, it stirs both the mind and the heart.


The Book of Phoenix – Nnedi Okorafor

I don’t really read many of the latest books but hey it’s Nnedi Okorafor!

A fiery spirit dances from the pages of the Great Book. She brings the aroma of scorched sand and ozone. She has a story to tell…. 

The Book of Phoenix is a unique work of magical futurism. A prequel to the highly acclaimed, World Fantasy Award-winning novel, Who Fears Death, it features the rise of another of Nnedi Okorafor’s powerful, memorable, superhuman women.

Phoenix was grown and raised among other genetic experiments in New York’s Tower 7. She is an “accelerated woman”—only two years old but with the body and mind of an adult, Phoenix’s abilities far exceed those of a normal human. Still innocent and inexperienced in the ways of the world, she is content living in her room speed reading e-books, running on her treadmill, and basking in the love of Saeed, another biologically altered human of Tower 7.

Then one evening, Saeed witnesses something so terrible that he takes his own life. Devastated by his death and Tower 7’s refusal to answer her questions, Phoenix finally begins to realize that her home is really her prison, and she becomes desperate to escape.

But Phoenix’s escape, and her destruction of Tower 7, is just the beginning of her story. Before her story ends, Phoenix will travel from the United States to Africa and back, changing the entire course of humanity’s future


Here – Richard McGuire

Here is Richard McGuire’s unique graphic novel based on the legendary 1989 comic strip of the same name.

Richard McGuire’s groundbreaking comic strip Here was published under Art Spiegelman’s editorship at RAW in 1989.

Built in six pages of interlocking panels, dated by year, it collapsed time and space to tell the story of the corner of a room – and its inhabitants – between the years 500,957,406,073 BC and 2033 AD.

The strip remains one of the most influential and widely discussed contributions to the medium, and it has now been developed, expanded and reimagined by the artist into this full-length, full-colour graphic novel – a must for any fan of the genre



I love trouble – Kel Symons

Felicia Castillo is a small-time grifter on the run from a nasty New Orleans gangster she just ripped off when she discovers she has the amazing ability to teleport. This lands her in the crosshairs of the nefarious Mars Corporation, which exploits supernatural gifts of people like Felicia. They make her an offer she can’t refuse: use her unique talent to become an assassin that can get close to anyone, anywhere. However, Felicia soon learns that no matter how long or how far you run, your troubles always catch up to you.


Kids’ loot:


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



Post-readathon slump!

Or something or other.

But it is a bit of a slump.

No I’m not abandoning books altogether but I’m just not feeling wholeheartedly into the books I’m dabbling in at the moment.


I’ve got Elizabeth Tallent’s Mendocino Fire, a book of short stories, that is meant to be reviewed by next week. I’m just not feeling it.


I’ve got Lan Samantha Chang’s Inheritance out as an e-book from the library but while it is a well-written book by an author I’ve been meaning to read for a while – and as an added bonus, set in China in the 1930s – it is a little bit more sombre a book than I feel the need to be reading now.


Six Suspects by Vikas Swarup is yet another book I’ve been dipping into. I’ve made better progress with it but don’t have that hungering need to jump back into the book somehow.


The last book I completed was Ascension by Jacqueline Koyanagi and I had an absolute blast with that. As with fantasy/SF, it takes a while to get into it and this new world she has drawn up for us, but it’s got a fun plot, a diverse cast, and it’s set in space! Oh and the main character Alana is a sky surgeon who repairs starships. And, on this starship she joins, the crew is made up of women, aside from a wolf-man engineer. Plus the captain is someone Alana has the hots for. If only I had read and written about this in time for Diversiverse! It definitely hits all the right notes.

So maybe I’m not in a post-readathon slump, but a post-Ascension slump!


Readathon reads: Bitch Planet; The Collector




This was bad-ass. I kinda feel weird typing that because that is not really something I would say out loud these days, little-kids-in-the-house-repeating-every-little-thing days, that’s how my life is. But yeah, Bitch Planet was over-the-top, in-your-face, loud and brash, and oh, those colours that just spring out at you, even when reading an e-copy of the comic.

But what exactly is Bitch Planet? It’s an off-world prison for women, it is exploitative entertainment, it made me think of Running Man, a 1980s movie based on a Stephen King/Richard Bachman book about felons given a chance to gun for freedom in some sort of game show. But you know, with women. And with ridiculous reasons for them being ‘non-compliant’ and thus thrown in prison. Oh and these are women of different shapes and sizes. It has great diversity in its cast of characters.

In an interview with NPR, creator Kelly Sue DeConnick said:

The book is completely absurd, and that’s the thing that my co-creator and I, Valentine De Landro, are trying to play with — some of the tropes from women-in-prison movies and exploitation and blaxploitation films from the ’70s that we loved but are, as we like to say, deeply problematic.

It’s fun, it’s loud, it’s also violent and not something you want to leave open when you’ve got little kids around. This is Bitch Planet!

I received a


The Collector – Sergio Toppi

This is the second graphic novel by Italian Sergio Toppi that I’ve read. The first was Sharaz-De, which I had borrowed as a hardcover from the library. The Collector was an e-book read from Scribd. But I feel like his comics should be read in print form, as it brings out his illustrations better than in an e-book, especially if you’re considering reading Sharaz-De – and please do, as it is one of the most beautiful books ever!

So we have The Collector, and as his name goes, he roams the world searching for powerful, often magical objects to collect. His story takes us to the mountains of Tibet, to Afghanistan, to the United States. And everywhere he goes he pretty much encounters life-threatening situations. He manages to wriggle his way out of it through a combination of trickery, firepower and magic. It’s all rather entertaining, although of course there’s the why is this crazy guy stealing things from the indigenous people notion. It’s rather colonial, rather un-PC. But well, Toppi’s artwork is gorgeous as always. I don’t know enough about art (I’m a stick-figure artist) to be able to describe it properly, but I just want to gaze at his drawings, especially those of his characters, I like how each character, even if they appear in just one panel and never have anything to say, has a strikingly different face and features. How I wish I could draw like that!

I would however have to recommend Sharaz-De over The Collector, as I think Sharaz-De showcases Toppi’s style a lot better.