WWW Wednesday

I’m late, but it’s still Wednesday in the Americas.

What are you currently reading:

Sour Sweet by Jenny Zhang

This is for review. I love the stories but they are very hard to read, for a variety of reasons. Stay tuned for the review.

Northern Girls: Life Goes On by Sheng Keyi

I started reading this because the heroine is a Chinese girl with big breasts and there’s a description in the first page about how her ‘assets’ make people feel uncomfortable. Being bosomy myself (and Chinese) I could relate. I’ve continued reading because the book offers a view of Chinese society that is quite new to me. Will try to write a review when I’m done.

What did you recently finish reading?

The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman, which I loved (you can read my review here) and Inspector Imanishi Investigates by Seicho Matsumoto, which I also loved. I want to read more by this author, but there aren’t many English translations. I’m hoping to write a review of Imanishi, but, in the meantime, you can read my review of another of his murder mysteries (A Quiet Place) here.

What do you think you’ll read next?

Good question as I have a long list of books (old and new) I want to read. Possible candidates:

Under a Pendulum Sun by Jeannette Ng

I’ve read good and bad reviews of this book, and both make me super curious about it. The idea of a Christian missionary spreading the ‘good news’ to the fae is intriguing and I am looking forward to the theological debates that one reviewer complained about. In any case, I think Pendulum Sun will definitely be unlike anything else I’ve read.

The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino

I’ve read iMalice by the same author and didn’t quite get it, but I am keen to give Higashino another try, especially as I think I’ve now got the hang of the slow, meditative pace of Japanese crime novels (thanks to the two by Seicho Matsumoto that I read recently).

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

I received a review copy from the distributor but I have not spoken to my editor about reviewing it. Heard Ng on the BBC yesterday and the discussion about the book didn’t really excite me. I didn’t like her first novel, Everything I Never Told You, found it somewhat flat and colourless. Well this one is about race, class and privilege, which are subjects I am interested in so I will give Little Fires Everywhere a chance.

I am excited that Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okorafor is out, but I want to re-read Akata Witch first.

I also want to re-read Pamela Dean’s Secret Country trilogy.

(Book I want to read most at this moment: Under a Pendulum Sun by Jeannette Ng)

I’m curious to see how much the book titles in my WWW Wednesday post will have changed next week.


Still Reading Austen

Most predictably, I’ve missed the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death. I had meant to write an article for the newspaper about why she is read and loved by Malaysians and what relevance the books have to our lives, but I was not as organised or awake as I hoped to be.

I mean to re-read Austen’s six novels this year. I finished Emma a  month ago and am currently re-reading Mansfield Park. Sense and Sensibility next. I may write a review of all six books in one post, but no promises. My energy levels and ability to focus are not predictable these days. But this means that I’m reading more slowly and that’s a good thing. It may even be that, at a slower pace, I understand and appreciate Fanny Price more than I did when I was a teenager (which was when I first made her acquaintance and the last time I read the book). It may also be that I am less impatient now.

As for Emma, I liked her both more and less. And I was totally put off by Frank Churchill – oh how my tolerance for silly young men has diminished over the years. Haha.

Jane Austen (as drawn by Cassandra Austen) (16 December 1775 – 18 July 1817)



Top Ten Tuesday: Book Covers I Love

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday meme, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish is a freestyle one about book covers. I’m gonna be boring and post ten book covers I love. The Dracula one may not even be the a published book: I think it’s a competition entry, but I would surely buy an edition with that cover.

How Far West?

How did a telly series based on a Chinese classic end up not having a single Chinese actor?

Should we even be surprised at the casting decisions for Netflix’s The Legend of Monkey, which is based on the sixteenth century novel Journey to the West? Probably not, considering how Scarlett Johansen was given the role of Motoko Kusanagi in Ghost in the Shell and Tilda Swinton played the Ancient One in Dr Strange.

journey to the west
Sun Wukong and gang go West … to La La Land.

The book tells the story of Xuanzang, a Tang dynasty Buddhist monk who travels to the ‘West’, meaning Central Asia and India, in search of sacred texts. He is given three friends who function as helpers and body guards of sorts: Sun Wukong (the monkey king); Zhu Bajie (the Pig of Eight Prohibitions – a half-man, half-pig); and Sha Wujing (a hideous immortal).

emilieWhile you could argue that monsters and immortals could be any race, Xuanzang is definitely Chinese. However, there is no Buddhist monk in this version of the tale. Instead, there is a teenager called Sandy (this is confusing because Sha Wujing is called Friar Sandy or Sandy in English translations of the novel) and Emilie Cocquerel [left], the actor who plays her, is definitely white.

There is no further information about the series, like where it’s set and how the three companions of Xuanzang end up hanging out with a white girl instead – I don’t know if Sandy is even supposed to be white. I notice that she is shown bald and with a tan in the promo pic – perhaps in an attempt to give her a more ‘edgy’ appearance.

Anyway, the series is supposed to be release in 2018. I guess we’ll have to wait til then to see just how bad it is. Of course, it may be good in terms of script, direction, acting etc, but I feel it’s failed already due to its casting decisions.

The Comfort of Crime Fiction

IMG_1573I am currently reading Natural Causes the first book of James Oswald’s Inspector McClean series.

In my current state of depression and distress, I find the procedure and method involved in crime solving calming and comforting. The grisly descriptions of murders, victims and scenes are a welcome distraction, far removed from my reality and absorbing in their significance to the plot.

There are seven novels in the series. And after that there are the Inspector Chens I haven’t read; and the Gervase Fens I want to try.

Will I require that much distraction and for so long? I hope not, but it’s good to know that I have help on standby if and when I need it.