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btt button

I checked in at the Booking Through Thursday blog, which is the host for a weekly book meme or blogging prompt. Here is this week’s prompt:

Do you ever weed out unwanted books from your library? And if so, what do you do with them?

Weeding in progress. I have to weed more often as the pile of unwanted books stagger more quickly than my acquisition pile does. The rule is I would nix any book of which I don’t have much impression. I line up paper shopping bags from the grocery and start putting books in. Don’t look back.


Penguin 16-20


Penguin Books launches their Christmas Book-a-Day challenge, Season’s Readings. A prompt for everyday up to Christmas Day. Are you getting into the holidays spirit?

16. For someone I love
Love: Poems by Pablo Neruda

17. Funny read
Without Feathers by Woody Allen

18. Massive Tome
The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand

19. Traveling home—reading this
I’m actually going home *after* Christmas and New Year, in mid-January. I have been fussing with my reading list for this trip to Asia and two of them are The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters and All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.

20. Set where I live
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan, a tribute to books in print and type set in my very own San Francisco

Holiday Book Meme


You are all buying books for gifts, right? Good. Well, here’s a book meme that will give you some shopping ideas.

1. Name five books that you read this year that would make excellent gifts.
a) The Silent Wife by A.S.A. Harrison. It’s so well-paced and unpredictable. It’s a prickly story of a marriage gone awry—and dangerous. Insidious.
b) Unlikely Destinations: The Lonely Planet Story by Tony and Maureen Wheeler. Perfect gift for someone whose passion is travel. It’s a memoir but also a vast armchair travel book of the world.
c) The World of Yesterday by Stefan Zweig. For lover of European literature. A man’s heartfelt memoir to a bygone era that had shaped him as a person. It’s poignant to read about how Hitler’s seizure of power represents the absolute, nightmarish opposite of every value Zweig believed in.
d) The Novel Bookstore by Laurence Cosse. A creative novel about a bookstore that would only sell “good literature.” Members of an elite bookstore’s clandestine selection committee are assaulted. It invokes the debate of what superlative work in the literary sphere constitutes.
e) Ficciones by Jorge Luis Borges. Just read it, he will blow your mind.

2. What’s your favorite holiday book?
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. In recent years I have taken up with mysteries. Hercule Poirot’s Christmas by Agatha Christie is also a favorite.

3. Tell us about your fabulous local book store.
San Francisco is blessed to have many local bookstores. One is Aarvark Books, an older joint with great selection of used books, especially fiction. They have a beautiful residence orange tabby, Owen, who always comes sit on my lap while I browse.

4. What book would you like to see made into a movie?
It’s already happening, and I’m very excited: The Silent Wife by A.S.A. Harrison.

5. When you go book shopping for other people, do you buy yourself a book too?
I never walk out of the bookstore empty-handed. There’s this running list of books to be acquired in head.

6. Which author do you wish would write faster because you can hardly wait to read more from them?
Gillian Flynn. I absolutely love the way she builds up suspense and tension in her books.

7. What author did you discover in 2014 that you think everyone should read?
Mark Pryor is a relatively new comer in mystery/thriller genre. I discovered his book just cold turkey. The books are all set in Paris (how can you resist?) with the chief of security at the US Embassy as the lead.

8. What book did you read as teen that you hated, but then loved when you reread it as an adult?
It’s a tie between Great Expectations by Charles Dickens and Walden by Henry David Thoreau.

Penguin 11-15


Penguin Books launches their Christmas Book-a-Day challenge, Season’s Readings. A prompt for everyday up to Christmas Day. Are you getting into the holidays spirit?

11. Christmas Classic
I always used to pick A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens; but The Christmas Train by David Baldacci is not a bad choice. I like story set in a train.

12. Book of poems
Love: Poems by Pablo Neruda

13. Stocking filler
What I call “loo literature” books! Books on etiquette, about dogs and cats, and little travel tips kind of books.

14. Read at school
A Separate Peace by John Knowles has stayed with me all these years. The loss of innocence and peer betrayal first shocked me in my formative years and continues to remind me of our regard of morality.

15. Favorite colour cover
I like very plain cover without a lot of design. I opt for black and grey.

Penguin 8-10


Penguin Books launches their Christmas Book-a-Day challenge, Season’s Readings. A prompt for everyday up to Christmas Day. Are you getting into the holidays spirit?

8. It’s a mystery!
Defend and Betray by Anne Perry really blew me away. She’s really dark, and her mystery often probes the darkness of human heart. This is one of the three mysteries in a single volume. I enjoyed every one of them.

9. I judged this by its cover
1momentCute, chick lit-ish, well-written tale about an ex-techie woman in Silicon valley saving an old neighborhood bookstore. Charming!

10. Latest purchase
With the giftcard I received for my birthday I bought A Gathering of Old Men and A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines.

Penguin 5-7


Penguin Books launches their Christmas Book-a-Day challenge, Season’s Readings. A prompt for everyday up to Christmas Day. Are you getting into the holidays spirit?

5. Quintessentially British
The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

6. Everyone should read
The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

7. Childhood favourite
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

Penguins Challenge


Penguin Books launches their Christmas Book-a-Day challenge, Season’s Readings. Here are my answers for the first 4 days.

1. Iconic first line
“The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.” The Go-Between by L.P. Hartley

2. Last read
A Time to Kill by John Grisham, actually one of the best reads this year.

3. On my Christmas list
On my wishlist is All the Light We Cannot See: A Novel by Anthony Doerr

4. For chilly nights
Any Agatha Christie would do, but I’ll go for Peril at End House, which I haven’t read.

Kane and Abel, Encore

btt button

I checked in at the Booking Through Thursday blog, which is the host for a weekly book meme or blogging prompt. Here is this week’s prompt:

If you could change the ending of any book you’ve read, which would it be and how would you change it?

As per the review I posted yesterday, I would like to prolong the lives of the two titular characters in Kane and Abel, who have died with some regrets. The book spans over 60 years in the 20th century with many ups and downs, hinging on a vendetta held by the hotelier on the banker because of a loan refused by the bank during the crash of 1929, made worse by inaccurate assumptions and misunderstandings. The ending is a boot but I just wish the two old men would live longer. I learned that Jeffrey Archer actually rewrote the book for its 30th anniversary edition, which was the version I read, to make the plot tighter and with dangling carrot in every chapter.


btt button

I checked in at the Booking Through Thursday blog, which is the host for a weekly book meme or blogging prompt. Here is this week’s prompt:

What’s the scariest book you’ve ever read?

I actually wrote a post about scary and creepy books that stay with me over the years. They are not ones with monsters and ghosts lurking on the pages but more atmospheric, full of creepy suggestion. Books that make my hair stand include The House Next Door by Anne Rivers Siddons, The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, And Then Then Were None by Agatha Christie and most surprisingly, the one that never advertised horror, but surprise is in store at every turn of a chapter, Under the Skin by Michael Faber.

For the sake of contributing to this week’s BTT, I would add Stephen King’s The Shining. The evil is encroaching, and it could be that Danny’s shining has empowered it. The book does end with an explosive climax, pun intended, that sends me over the edge. It’s almost like fighting against unknown, unseen evil. The characters understand the hotel is evil; that it sought Danny, his power, and that it would do anything it could to get him. This book is a big spooker, atmospherically speaking, and haunts me tremendously.

A to Z

It’s Friday!

A. Author You’ve Read The Most Books From:
Charles Dickens. Great Expectation, A Tale of Two Cities, Oliver Twist, Nicholas Nickleby, The Christmas Carol, and Oliver Twist. Next one on my list is Bleak House.

B. Best Sequel Ever:
I have never read many sequels until this year. My favorite at the moment is the William Monk Mystery by Anne Perry. I read the first three almost back to back.

C. Currently Reading:
The Indian Clark by David Leavitt

D. Drink of Choice While Reading:
I read profusely in the morning so it would be coffee. I also enjoy a cocktail (cosmopolitan) when I’m reading by the pool.

E. E-Reader or Physical Books:
I have a sentimental and emotional attachment to books in print, so until they go extinct, real books would be my choice. That said, I have an e-reader that I bring with me when I travel overseas.

F. Fictional Character You Would Have Dated In High School:
Why in high school?

G. Glad You Gave This Book A Chance:
The Oxford Murders by Guillermo Martinez. I have never heard of the author but was glad I picked up the book at the bookstore while I was on vacation. It’s an intellectual mystery set in academic setting. The author is Argentinian so I wish he gets more attention in the English-speaking world.

H. Hidden Gem Book:
The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov. Another important discovery when I was in college. His books were banned during his lifetime for the lambaste against Joseph Stalin. This classic is a mixture of literature, history, sci fi, and fairy tale. It explores that whole mandatory co-existence of good and evil.

I. Important Moments of Your Reading Life:
Eleventh grade in high school. For winter break, I had to read Thoreau and Ayn Rand. The daunting size of The Fountainhead and the dry subject matter of Walden dreaded me. But once I started, I could not put either book down and I finished them within the first week of break. That was a serious turning point for me as a young reader who felt compelled to seek out serious literature.

J. Just Finished:
State of Wonder by Anne Patchett. Story of the a mysterious elderly scientist working in seclusion for a fertility drug in the Amazon now makes me want to read The Lost City of Z.

K. Kinds of Books You Won’t Read:
Romance, comics, political propaganda, and most biographies.

L. Longest Book You’ve Read:
I think it must be a tie between Gone with the Wind and War and Peace. They’re both doorstoppers.

M. Major Book Hangover Because Of:
Rebecca by Daphne du Mariner. I stayed up all night to see what would happen because every chapter du Mariner was dangling the carrots. I was in Hawaii so I could sit out on the balcony and read all night.

N. Number of Bookcases You Own:
Eight bookcases lining the three walls of my study.

O. One Book That You Have Read Multiple Times:
And Then There Was None by Agatha Christie

P. Preferred Place to Read:
I like to read on the sofa with an end-table on which I put my journal, pen, and a beverage. I never read in bed because I cannot seem to focus. When I’m on vacation I enjoy reading on a chaise by the pool.

Q. Quote From A Book That Inspires You:
“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

R. Reading Regret:
I have not had a chance to devote my whole attention to reading Ulysses, which I quickly read through under constraint of time for a class in college. I have plan to pick it up again but it seems very intimidating.

S. Series You Started and Need to Finish:
All the series I started are open-ended: Anne Perry’s William Monk series, Mark Pryor’s Hugo Marston series (set in Paris), and Maggie Hope series by Susan Elia MacNeal.

T. Three Of Your All-Time Favourite Books:
The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov, The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro, and East of Eden by John Steinbeck.

U. Unapologetic Fangirl For:
Good Christian Bitches by Kim Gatlin. Texas, “Christian”, bitches—how can I resist? I decided to read this for two reasons: the new ABC show and I was mildly intrigued by the premise because, as we all learn by about, ohhhh, 1st grade, there are hypocrites everywhere. I’ve come in contact with one or two individuals who hide behind the cross while promoting their own selfishness, but I see nothing wrong with exploiting this idea for the sake of entertainment. I just love it!

V. Very Excited For This Release More Than Any Other:
The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters

W. Worst Bookish Habit:
Buying books even when my TBR stacks are unrealistically large. I just can’t help it. And e-readers are the accomplices. At this point, it would take me years to get through all the books I’ve bought but haven’t read yet.

X. Marks The Spot (Start On Your Bookshelf And Count to the 27th Book):
Herzog by Saul Bellow—I have not read this one yet!

Y. Your Latest Book Purchase:
The Blood Thief by Mark Pryor. Hugo Marston series #3

Z. ZZZ-Snatcher (last book that kept you up WAY late):
Lately I have not been staying up late to read a book, because I prefer to get my beauty sleep and wake up early to read.