Reads from March to May 2023

I’m sure to those who have been following my blog for some time, you know the news already. For those who haven’t, I lost my husband two months ago. From early March to now, I’ve been reading more books about grief, loss, and different kinds of trauma though my reading time hasn’t been so consistent. I have other things occupying my time like thinking about me and kid’s future. By the time I find time to read on most days, I’m too tired I only read for probably no more than 10 minutes and then I fall asleep.

Continue reading Reads from March to May 2023

My Reading life in 2022…and my January 2023 reads!

Here is a review of my reading life from 2022 via StoryGraph. I thought it would be fun to add a slider option to compare my reading life from six months ago. Note: The first photo is data up to December 2022 and the second photo is data from June 2022.

I finished 2022 by reading 49 books!

  • storygraph 2022b
  • storygraph 2022a
Continue reading My Reading life in 2022…and my January 2023 reads!

Do you keep a reading log? (December 2022 reads)

I think I need to keep up a reading log to keep track of what I’m reading. Maybe I could journal a line or two on what I think of the book at that moment. Sometimes I forget about my thoughts on the book by the time I write these reviews. For me, my setup is pretty simple: I keep little notes throughout the book. If it’s a physical book, it’s post-it notes with the date of my reading reflection. If it’s an e-book, I just add an e-note. I have nothing for audiobooks, but I hardly read those anyways. I would like to keep my reading log reflections in one place like a journal though. That would be nice.

Do you keep a reading log? Comment below!

Continue reading Do you keep a reading log? (December 2022 reads)

February 2022 reads

…or shall I say read. There were plenty of books I read, but I wanted to finish The Final Revival of Opal and Nev from beginning to end.

The Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton

“How did I not just let life run me over? I’m sorry, I don’t usually use this word, but it’s because f*(|< that. I believe in myself above all.”

Dawnie Walton, The Final Revival of Opal & Nev

This book has an unusual format through a series of interviews a la VH1 “Behind the Music.” Across four decades it goes back and forth with the interview format with the main characters and other music industry folk and family, the Editor’s notes, and “present day” with the main character, S. Sunny Shelton, who has a connection with the band. Opal and Nev is a fictional short-lived interracial rock-and-rock duo in the 1970s — don’t expect it to be a story about interracial romance because this is not it. The story focuses on Opal, the African-American half of the duo, who had to deal with racism throughout her musical career. As her fame and voice diminished into obscurity, Nev’s star rose. Then you have Sunny devoted to weaving the story of Opal and Nev. There’s more to it, but I don’t want to spoil any of it. I guess I was expecting a long epic musical career, but that may have been naive of me.

I’ve been on the waiting list for this book for many weeks in the library and I finally got it! It arrived in time for Black History Month! Though the theatre kid in me enjoyed acting out each character, I would re-read this book in audiobook format to hear their take on it. Plus there were some lyrics sprinkled in the book where I would like to catch the tune through the magic of audiobooks. When I read it, I really tried my best punk rock impression.

#whatsonyourbookshelfchallenge: DebSueDonna, and Jo

January #whatsonyourbookshelfchallenge and my favorite books from 2021

I decided for this year, I won’t be borrowing any books from the library or buying any books until I finish reading the books from my bookshelf. I bought these books because they caught my eye or because I added it to my order to qualify for free shipping. I also was on a waitlist for books from the library. When it arrived, I kept extending the hold because I already had other books I was reading. Based on the books on my shelf and on my waitlist, I think I already have my to-read pile for 2022. Not borrowing anything new or buying any books will be a challenge. Since last year I read 31 books, my new goal for this year would be to read 34 books making it about a 10% increase from last year.

Continue reading January #whatsonyourbookshelfchallenge and my favorite books from 2021

This will be the year we get a Christmas tree!

Update on the San Diego home hunt

Actually, make that Orange County. My SIL and her son are moving in with her boyfriend. MIL is moving there too. BIL #2 is moving in to our house which means he’s sharing a room with BIL #1. It is what it is. We live in a 3-bedroom, 2 bath house. My husband and I bought the house back in 2015. In this market we have no plans to buy a home with more rooms.

Also, we’re still sticking with having one modest-sized TV which is in the living room. We have no plans to buy a larger TV. And we are sticking with our modest-sized refrigerator. When BIL #1 first moved in a year ago, he had the nerve to ask me to buy a bigger fridge. I told him when we remodel the kitchen, then we’ll buy a new fridge. We’ll remodel the kitchen, but it will be a while.

Continue reading This will be the year we get a Christmas tree!

July and August 2021 #whatsonyourbookshelfchallenge (plus why I read for fun)

I’m participating in the #whatsonyourbookshelfchallenge, hosted by SueDonnaJo and Debbie.

Up until this year I have not read much but I think that’s because I tried to treat it like the way I would watch Netflix — binging it. As of this year, I started doing Gretchen Rubin’s read 21 minute in 2021 to help me read more. I found doing this practice manageable and sustainable because reading 21 minutes a day is achievable. Now I can’t imagine a day where I am not reading 21 minutes.

I’ve been reading more for the mental health benefits and how to process difficult emotions especially as I go through life as being a new mom. Also because of the pandemic as there are significantly fewer events and people are less inclined to go anywhere, reading has provided an escape where I can still have this sense of human connection and empathy. Reading is one of the simple pleasures that has centered me because there have been many moments when I have felt overwhelmed especially on some weeks when my husband is out doing army training.

Continue reading July and August 2021 #whatsonyourbookshelfchallenge (plus why I read for fun)

Covered in paint from head to toe

If you come to my house for coffee, you’ll probably find me all covered in paint from head to toe but that’s because I’ve been painting my kid’s room. I know I paid someone to paint Lana’s room a couple of weeks ago, but there’s this one wall in Lana’s room that was not painted and it’s a plywood wall that scream the 1950s. This house was all built in 1953 after all. I was not sure if I wanted to keep the plywood wall or replace it with drywall. The painter said if I were to put drywall, he can come back another time to paint that wall for free. But after much thought, I decided to keep it but I’m going to paint it myself. Over the past week, I’ve cleaned, repaired some of the panels, spackled, filled gaps, and sanded. Today is the day for priming and painting. Working on the plywood wall is more work than painting the drywall. I can’t imagine how much more the painter would have charged me.

Continue reading Covered in paint from head to toe

Let’s have vaccine clinics in the lobby!

Happy Friday everyone! This week flew by — thank goodness! A lot has developed over the past week especially at work. Visitors seeing patients staying at the in-patient floors must have COVID vaccine or COVID negative test in the last 72 hours. The lines to the information desk are getting long. I think maybe while we are at it, we should have a vaccine clinic at all our lobby areas so if they get turned away, they can get vaccinated and not leave feeling empty-handed.

Also at work, all employees (including volunteers and contractors) at my work must have the COVID vaccine by September 30th. If they don’t get vaccinated, they can’t go to work. I’m not sure what the ultimate decision will be for those who won’t vaccinate. Is this an experiment to get more employees vaccinated? In the meantime, unions are negotiating for those who continue to not vaccinate to do weekly COVID tests in order for them to continue working but my employer will remain rigid with their decision. There is an exemption but that applies if the person is reported to get an anaphylactic shock from the vaccine. Honestly I don’t mind that my work won’t budge. As someone working for a public employer, is it financially responsible for tax payer dollars to continue to pay for employee COVID tests? Have my coworkers seen how much COVID tests cost? Also, I’m tired of holding the secondary title of contact tracer at work — it eats up a lot of time from my regular duties.

Continue reading Let’s have vaccine clinics in the lobby!

Keep it simple

If you live in the United States — Happy 4th of July weekend! Here’s to a nice three-day weekend. I came into Friday saying “finally!” This past weekend was a little tough because it was my husband’s drill weekend leaving me to watch Lana all weekend. At eight months old she is getting incredibly mobile and I’m exhausted. This month, my husband has his annual three-week trainings so I told him on the weekends that he’s here, I’m going to use that time to go to in-person gym. During the week, I do the digital in-person classes from home but I like to use my weekends to go to in-person exercise classes as a treat. Also I miss seeing my gym friends. But also, I like to use up my class packages. I would hate for them to go to waste.

The Fourth of July weekend will be pretty simple. Instead of going out to watch fireworks this year, we’ll be watching it from our backyard. Fireworks happen so late in the day anyways it would be easiest to just watch them from home. Lana tends to get fussy when we are out too long and we have to deal with her crying the whole way home. At least from home, she’s comfortable. Also watching them from home is never a bad idea. We can see fireworks from everywhere in our yard. The thing I’ve learn about handling a baby is choose whatever makes you and your baby’s life easier. I tell myself Lana being little is only temporary. Don’t overcomplicate plans to appease everyone.

I am currently reading So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo. I borrowed it from the library, but I enjoy reading the book so much that I decided to buy it. There were so many moments where I stopped and paused to think about how I relate to her many passages. I’m not even halfway through, but it made me think about how I got to where I am. Even though people may credit my character for being a determined person, I have to admit there is a whole system that has helped me get to where I am today because I had certain privileges. I entertained the idea of a virtual book club to talk about this book but I don’t think I have the bandwidth to do so.

This month for “Eat Around the World” I’m doing ice cream. Other sweet cold treats are welcomed too! This one is going to be so much fun!

matcha beer ipa
This week try a cool matcha IPA

It’s my dogs’ birthday weekend!

It’s my dogs’ birthday weekend! Yay! Actually, tomorrow is Teddy’s birthday and last week was Koda’s birthday. Teddy will be six years old and Koda is five year’s old. I may be a mom to a six month old little human, but I continue to make every effort for them to enjoy life like they did before Lana was born. We continue to do dog walks (plus stroller) around the neighborhood and malls, hikes, and trips to the dog park. When it comes to dining out, I heavily favor the restaurant that has outdoor dining so Teddy and Koda can join too.

Teddy the Mini Schnauzer and Koda the Pomeranian

My first Mother’s Day was really nice. My family came over and we had a little potluck for lunch. But later on that day, one of the foods did not sit well with and my husband. I threw up and was sick well into the following day. My husband had the same symptoms a few hours later. We have identified the food that got us sick because it was the one thing we did not feed Lana. I wanted to bring it up with my family that we got sick from that one dish, but I’ll hold back. I don’t want anyone to take it personally. Maybe the next time we hold another potluck, I’ll challenge everyone to bring a new dish — something you did not bring last time.

We are still going through the Bout of Books marathon. I am surprised to say I am still going. I thought I was going to give up on Monday when I got sick. I mean missed the morning and afternoon reading sprint that day, but I made up all the sprints reading in the evening. So far I’ve enjoyed reading. I listen to an audiobook on the way to work and the way back. Before bedtime, I read some more until I fall asleep. I just finished Big White Ghetto: Dead Broke, Stone-Cold Stupid, and High on Rage in the Dank Woolly Wilds of the “Real America” by Kevin Williamson. I am currently reading Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning by Cathy Park Hong, China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan, and Girl, Woman, Other: A Novel (audiobook) by Bernardine Evaristo. I also read to Lana as well. This month it’s centered around Asian stories. I am currently reading to her Filipino Children’s Favorite Stories and Filipino Friends by Liana Romula and Vietnamese Children’s Favorite Stories by Phuoc Thi Minh Tran.

On Tuesday, the gardeners installed the plants for the front yard. It’s not quite complete since I am still so undecided to what plants to buy and where. Right now I bought a few to start plus a young pink tabebuia tree. I am so glad I did not go on a plant shopping spree because I’ve been spending every evening after work watering all the plants in the yard to establish rapid root growth. For the pink tabebuia, I’ve been filling the tree ring. Maybe when these current batch of plants are settled then I’ll consider buying new plants.

Cold brew coffee and chocolate hazelnut babka at Barclays Coffee and Tea in Northridge

February (and January) reads (spoiler free)


There was no particular theme. I needed to read something to get my 20 books in 2020 kicked off.

A Simple Favor

A Simple Favor by Darcey Bell

Is it strange that the whole time I was reading this book, it was constantly giving a sarcastic tone? It was almost slapstick funny. I found it refreshingly buoyant compared to say, Gone Girl or Girl on the Train.


February is Black History Month so I decided to read books written by African or African-American authors.

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

This book has been on my “to-read” list for a long time and I finally got a chance to read it. The main character, Celie, has gone through a lot. You follow her for decades and you wonder if things ever turn around for her. Spoiler alert: they do but it was a long, slow burn.

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

This book was a very difficult read. It was not until the end I realized this was not a historical fiction book, but rather magical realism. There was a lot of anachronism. If you kept thinking, “wait a minute…” stop it. It is not meant to be historical fiction. The time the book takes place is fairly ambiguous and it kept me questioning until the very end.

Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue

I enjoy this book a lot. I only read a few chapters a night because I do not want it to end. I also found it relatable since it took place during a very familiar time in my life, the 2008 recession.

The theme for my next reads in March is Women’s History month. Stay tuned for my spoiler-free reviews.

Any books you recommend? What are you currently reading? Comment below!