Friday, March 21, 2008

Book 46: Love Walked In

Title: Love Walked In

Who wrote it: Marisa De Los Santos

Whom I borrowed it from: Queens Library (Forest Hills)

What is it about:
- A tale of a 11 y/o girl losing her single parent mom
through mental illnesses, while her dad's girlfriend
offered her shelter and comfort through
life's storm; and how their bond developed
over time, despite the awkwardness of this
relationship / friendship...

What went through my mind:
- As the first published novel,
this was a very sophisticated and
well written story : 0
She has some creative usage of
vocabularies, detailed and delicate
images laid out before the readers eyes,
and the character developments of the
people involved are excellent.
i was very impressed and felt drawn to
the story & all its characters.
I feel like i know them all personally,
and that i'd love to be their friends /
family members : )

- The theme of this novel is pretty unique,
and its optimistic worldview (while being realistic)
is quite encouarging and made this novel
all the more lovable : )
I really liked how the story does not
end on a happily ever after note,
but it doesn't make life TOO HARSH
for them (& us readers) to bear either : D
I felt some soothing comfort / warmth
brewing in my heart, for it brings a sense of
peace & hope to my life : )

Favorite Quotes:
- "If you have to ask, no way are you
ever getting the answer you're looking for...
If you have to ask that question in order
to keep him... he's already gone.
(Pg. 96)

- "Be not afraid of parenthood;
some are born parents,
some achieve parenthood, and others
have parenthood thrust upon 'em.
(Pg. 106)

- "The problem with me is that
I like to work; I like to do
what I do well and completely;
I just don't have a calling. Not yet, anyway
(Pg. 121)
* That summarizes my life up till now.
Thanks a lot!

- "I don't think love is blind,
but wanting to be in love,
that's probably blind.
" (Pg. 174)

- "Maybe with true love, you see
(the mistakes/imperfection)
and you love anyway.
" (Pg. 182)

- "Happiness isn't what happens when
you whistle along, pretending
bad things don't exist..
Happiness is earned, like everything else
It is achieved.
" (Pg. 271-272)

What came out of this:
* Reminder: Look out for this author's
second book! : D I can't wait!!

Why Should you read it, too?
It's a very heartwarming story : )
If life is not treating you too well now,
reading this shall lift your spirit a little...

Monday, March 17, 2008

Book 45: Magic Bakery (魔法蛋糕店)

Title: 魔法蛋糕店 (Magic Bakery)

Who wrote it: 張小嫻 (Amy Cheung)

Whom I borrowed it from: Queens Library (Forest Hills)

What is it about:
- 11 inter-connected short stories
touching upon the various aspects of
romantic relationships, from puppy love
in high-school to long lost love & loneliness --
while a lot of them evolve around
desserts / bakeries...

What went through my mind:
- What can i say? One can never expect
something too deep / moving from this author,
but her stories are always easy to read & relate;
i guess in a sense, it's commercial & easy enough
for most teens / college age crowd,
which explains the level of popularity of her books.
I guess i would have liked this book a little better
if i were still in high school...?!

- The elaborate & alluring descriptions
of German cakes definitely increased my
interests in tasting them one day : D

- The author is observant that
there is a direct correlation between
desserts & romance : 0
how both bring people sweet memories
& desire to revisit the experience in the near future : )

Favorite Quotes:
- "愛情讓我們愛上自己、懷疑自己、
(Romantic love allows us to fall in love
with ourselves, second-guess ourselves,
hate ourselves, pity ourselves,
as well as understand ourselves.) (Pg. 5)

(It has been said, men cannot forget
their previous relationship(s),
women cannot reject their new pursuer.) (Pg. 200)

What came out of this:
* Goal: Look into German style cakes! : D

Why Should you read it, too?
A super easy read, and it's somewhat
fun to be a total bystander
to some romantic drama at times ; )

Book 44: Knife (刀)

Title: 刀 (Knife)

Who wrote it: 重松清 (Shigematsu Kiyoshi)

Whom I borrowed it from: Queens Library (Forest Hills)

What is it about:
- 5 Short stories evolving around the topic
of BULLYING -- portraying the thoughts,
beliefs, emotions of the victims & their families,
as well as the interactions among the
bullies, bystanders & victims.

What went through my mind:
- Since this is a Japanese novel,
it inevitably operates within the
Japanese school system,
as well as traditional Japanese beliefs,
like Men have to stand up for themselves --
hence victims are seen as weaklings even by
their own parents --
which is quite sad for some kids,
because they simply cannot get help
anywhere despite the cruel acts that
are inflicted upon them.
I can't help but imagine how it's like
in America? I heard that there's bullying
here too... '_' how do kids deal with that?

- The novel mentioned that some kids choose
not to report to the teachers & pretend that
all things are fine when they're with their parents --
i cannot imagine that if i were in their shoes : 0
Why would i choose pride over protection?
mmm... or am i too trusting / hopeful?

- One of the interesting ideas this book
mentioned was that some victims actually
look up to their bullies...
They admire the bullies' self-confidence,
strength, braveness... exactly the qualities
these victims themselves lack!
Recently, i come to meet a new friend,
of whom i realize evoke similar emotions
in me -- i hate it that she bosses me around,
invades my personal space & privacy,
is rude and disrespectful...
yet at the same time, i can't help but wonder,
what if i were as confident as she is???

Favorite Quotes:
- "個性不合的夫婦還可以
(If a couple can no longer
get along with each other,
they can pursue divorce;
but what can a parent and a child do,
when they're in situations like that?) (Pg. 129)

(Kids that are hospitalized for a long time...
are too used to persevering and giving up
on things... Perhaps they've already lost
the energy to pursue after anything,
let alone the desire to dream.
Or better yet, their biggest dream --
to be discharged from the hospital
is deemed impossible?) (Pg. 168)

- "因為我很努力,
(It's only because I'm trying really hard,
that I'm able to persevere.) (Pg. 184)
* This is almost like my motto!

What came out of this:
* Insight: A better understanding of
the insider world of BULLYING,
as well as how culture affects
family relationships /friendships.

Why Should you read it, too?
This is a very well-written book
with a realistic approach on the
specific issue, while bringing hope
to the readers despite the brutal topic.

Book 43: Daalder's Chocolates

Title: Daalder's Chocolates

Who wrote it: Philibert Schogt

Whom I borrowed it from: Queens Library (Forest Hills)

What is it about:
- A coming of age story of a chocolatier --
a detailed account since his miserable childhood,
all the way to the very last moment of his life.
Topics like gourmet food / horrific taste,
bad parenting / desperate childhood,
stubborn human nature / revelation & repentance
are examined thoroughly.

What went through my mind:
- This novel felt longer than it is...
which is another way of saying,
it's not the most interesting story i've read,
& there're parts of it i really had to endure
as opposed to enjoy '_'

- The main character Joop Daalder
was definitely not a very lovable character
until the very end... : /
which makes it hard for the reader to get
really immersed into the story,
since it's easy to get agitated at
people like him -_-"
Sad to say though, he's a very
realistic character......

- By portraying the MegaDeli
(a giant modern/gourmet supermarket)
forcing small stores out of business,
both by force & $$ compensation,
the author touched upon an important issue
that needs to be addressed more by our media.
By looking at this from the small business owner's
point of view, it indeed involves injustice done
to them, which consumers like us might not
think much about, when we go enjoy ourselves...

Favorite Quotes:
- "The main reason they
(people) bought chocolates
was to impress each other.
(Pg. 9)

- "I taste, therefore I am."
(Pg. 70)
* woah! i'm so gonna quote that!

- "While chocolate revealed its flavor almost
instantly upon contact with the tongue,
and kept revealing its flavor until the moment
it was swallowed, nuts had to be chewed
for some time before their flavor
was released, and then that flavor
disappeared again and a lot of junk
was left behind on your tongue and
between your teeth." (Pg. 89)

- "The more delicate the balance,
the more intense the ecstasy...
that moment of perfect ripeness
is also the very moment the process
of decay sets in. In that fleeting moment,
ecstasy and melancholy coincide." (Pg. 117)

- "'s better to say good-bye to a chocolate
the moment you have finished making it.
What happens after that
doesn't matter anymore." (Pg. 124)
* Now this is true wisdom...
Sometimes i do feel over-protective over my food,
like wanting to see every single piece
consumed and nobody wastes anything 0_o"
I guess it's held so close to my heart
that the ego could get hurt
when it's not appreciated : 0

- "Nothing creates greater distance
than the sight of a fellow human being feasting
on something you can barely get down
your throat." (Pg. 197)

- "Talking with your mouth full
wasn't impolite to your listeners but
to your taste buds." (Pg. 232)

- "Did this always happen in marriages -
that a wife admired her husband less and less
and mothered him more and more?
And that a man behaved less and less
like a prince and more and more
like a child?" (Pg. 254)

What came out of this:
* Desires: There're some really
alluring food writing in the novel...
so i wanted to eat some really smooth
chocolates and ripe peaches afterwards... *_*

Why Should you read it, too?
If you liked chocolates, it's a fun read : )

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Book 42: Bento Box at Whitebread America Heartland

Title: Bento Box in the Heartland --
My Japanese Girlhood in Whitebread America
-- A Food Memoir

Who wrote it: Linda Furiya

Whom I borrowed it from:
Queens Central Library (Jamaica)

What is it about:
An honest, genuine coming of age memoir
of an ABJ (American Born Japanese),
who dealt with identity/culture struggles,
and found her way out by holding on to
1 single thread: traditional Japanese cuisine.

What went through my mind:
- This is the first book that I've read,
which contained recipes that tied into
the stories that are told.
I consider that a very creative &
successful strategy : )
& i wanna try all those recipes!!

- This memoir touched the core of my heart...
though i'm not born here,
but i must admit -- the author's struggles
with cultural differences -- sometimes a painful
yet courageous process --
the desperate desire to blend in while recognizing
one's uniqueness & wanting to be proud about it...
rings true and sounds strangely familiar to me.

Sometimes, I'd rather speak English to people,
even if I knew they could speak Cantonese --
just coz it feels more 'appropriate' to me '_'
I don't want to be classified as 'FOB'...
yet at the same time, I'm embarrassed --
because in that way, I identify with & somehow
approve of those ignorant labels, which i hate.
Of all people, i think this author would
100% understand how i feel.

- Just as the author's parents go through
great difficulties to find the rare traditional
Japanese cuisine ingredients,
i find that it's true for Chinese to do the same.
Food seems to create a comforting atmosphere
for its diners to reminiscent about the 'good ol' days'...
Speaking of which, i miss my dad & grandma's food : /

- On top of food, i suppose Chinese literature /
friends from h/s, familiar places... are all threads
i hold on to tightly... to my home -- Hong Kong '_'

Favorite Quotes:
- "After the wedding, when we moved into
our new apartment, the honeymoon was over.
We argued all the time, testing each other.
Sometimes it was hard, other times easy.
All part of the marriage deal.
" (Pg. 33)

- "My father had a theory on how to
get my brothers and me to eat new foods.
All we had to do was taste the dish
three times, but not at one sitting.
By the fourth time, he claimed,
our palates would have grown
accustomed to the new taste
and texture and we'd be ready
for a full serving.
" (Pg. 45)
* Interesting idea, worth trying? : )

- "I loved the feeling that I was
welcomed into a whole other world
when I read Japanese.
" (Pg. 125)
* I feel that way too, when i read Chinese! : 0

- "I invariably picked up the pen
or the phone receiver, believing that
by completing these jobs I somehow
protected my parents from the random
ignorance and rudeness of people
who didn't have patience for those
who couldn't speak English well.
As an American-born child, writing
letters and making phone calls
wasn't a difficult task, but knowing
my mother couldn't do it, or was
afraid to, and that she depended on me
made it a weighty responsibility
." (Pg. 207)
* I never thought that anyone else could
put my feelings / bitterness into words
in such a clear, direct manner.

- "...eating had been my family's
communion. We communicated not
through direct words, but through
actions and food.
" (Pg. 305)
* Why, is this an Asian thing?
My family is just like this, too '_'

What came out of this:
*Goal: i want to go to TOKYO!!!!!!!
*Reminder: it's about time... to reconcile
with my past, and let go '_'

Why Should you read it, too?
If you've ever had struggles growing up
as an ABC, or would like to understand how
it's like to feel like (half) an outsider...
you should definitely pick up this book '_'

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Book 41: The Love at 7-Eleven (7-ELEVEN之戀)

Title: 7-ELEVEN之戀 (The Love at 7-Eleven)

Who wrote it: 蔡智恆 (Zhi Xing Cai)

Whom I borrowed it from: Queens Library (Forest Hills)

What is it about:
- 8 individual Short stories consisting of
various (post) college-age characters,
weaving realistic portraits of life through
familial/romantic relationships & friendships.

What went through my mind:
- You know how sometimes, after reading a book,
you remember next to nothing about the story,
but the intimate feelings & self-revelation
the book brings you?
This is one of those books : )
The stories themselves seem pretty simple
and straight-forward...
sometimes it might even appear amateur...
But in a way, it's like drinking
a clear, pure glass of water.
You might not call it tasty,
but it leaves you a satisfying aftertaste.

Favorite Quotes:
- "帥哥與美女一樣,
(Handsome men are just the same
as pretty ladies,
the more you have to prove you are,
the more you're not.) (Pg. 153)

(You use your mind to miss someone;
while you watch with your eyes
when you're together.
A relationship that requires you to
miss that person with your mind
tends to be more beautiful...
because your mind is likely to
paint a prettier picture than
the reality...) (Pg. 140)

What came out of this:
*Nostalgia: I miss those days back in h/s...
when we hung out at 7-11 everyday
after school : 0

Why Should you read it, too?
If you'd like to pick up an easy/light-read : )

Book 40: How to Open a Dessert Stall (教你開間糖水屋)

Title: 教你開間糖水屋 (How to Open a Dessert Stall)

Whom I borrowed it from: Queens Library (Forest Hills)

What is it about:
A simple how-to guide to open
a small business, specializing in chinese
desserts aka 糖水 : )
Plus a detail list of common
Chinese desserts and their recipes.

What went through my mind:
- I did not know that there are so many
interesting Chinese desserts out there!
& that to make them require loads of patience,
because the 'dry/moist' ingredients need
to be prepared for various amounts
of time in advance : 0

- A great point that this book makes is the
distinction between Chinese & Western desserts:
Western desserts are often for mere pleasure --
think about cakes, ice-cream, cookies and the like...
What do girls usually say after eating them?
"I FEEL SO FAT!"& it's true...
They tend to be made of cream/butter/sugar,
none considered too healthy 0_o"
Meanwhile, Chinese desserts often contain
healthy ingredients like seasonal fruits/herbs,
& are created with the main intention
to help balance the diet & enhance bodily functions.

- Like all businesses, the most crucial

- I NEED to practice/learn my CHINESE
DESSERTS! i'm kinda ashamed of myself now...
-_- how can i claim to love food/sweets
and yet know nothing about any 糖水?!?!

Favorite Quote:
- "努力不一定成功,
(Working hard doesn't guarantee success,
but it would surely bring fruitful results.) (Pg. 76)

What came out of this:
*Goal: Learn to make more 糖水!

Why Should you read it, too?
Aren't you curious about Chinese desserts, too? : )

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


The truth is...
I've read 6 books since the last review,
but i have yet to write about them! 0_o"

Career change is a big step i just took,
and it takes some time to adjust to a whole new schedule.

I'm still reading though : )
so... please bear with me,
and reviews to come soon! : D