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Life update + books I read in September

Last month had been quite a crazy month. The hubby and I had actually taken leave, hoping that we could finally go on a just-the-two-of-us date while the kids were at childcare, and gallivant around the Melbourne city.

Alas, the virus had other plans for us. Alistair fell sick and had three febrile fits in 24 hours – never before! I was quite traumatised because in two out of the three convulsions, he stopped breathing for a while and turned purple! That incident resulted in two calls for the ambulance, and three nights at the hospital. But thank God, he is well now.

Then the sickness passed to the hubby, and he was really sick for a week too. So bye bye dating plans. Although we did manage to have a quick brunch at the Rickett’s Point Beachside Cafe (with Alistair in tow) and enjoy the lovely eggs benedict as well as scones.

Soon after that, the virus took hold of my father-in-law and then Amy… it was a crazy time I tell you.

One thing that kept me kinda sane was the books I read! I managed to read quite a number of books the last two months, so I’m going to break it down a bit.

Here’s the list of books I went through in September:

A Hero Born, by Jin Yong, translated by Anna Holmwood – DNF

Like many Malaysian Chinese born in the 1980s, I grew up watching Hong Kong’s TVB drama with my family, and Jin Yong’s The Legend of the Condor Heroes as well as The Return of the Condor Heroes are among the legendary stories dearest to my heart. My elder sister had Jin Yong’s entire book collection, and I had often wished I could read Mandarin so that I could read those books. So imagine my joy when I found that there is an officially licensed English version of the Legend of the Condor Heroes now!

I bought it immediately and when I held it in my hands, I literally felt so much awe for it. Unfortunately, when I started reading it, I was quite disappointed. The first thing that irked me was the way the names were translated. It’s odd because they kept some of the characters’ names as they were in Chinese: Guo Jing, Yang Kang, etc. But they used literal translation for the others: Huang Rong became Lotus Huang, Guo Siao Tien became Skyfury Guo, etc. For those of us who grew up knowing the characters’ names by heart, this version was a huge distraction.

Secondly, I felt that the translation didn’t read well. It was as though I was reading a Wikipedia entry that was just doing its job of translating the story into English. After reading more than 100 pages, I finally decided to stop because this just wasn’t bringing me joy. In fact, the more I read, the more upset I became. Sigh. My sister told me to just re-watch the drama series, I’ll be happier. I think she’s right.

Storm and Fury, by Jennifer L. Armentrout

This was another fast-paced YA fantasy that I enjoyed overall, although some of the dialogues did make me want to cringe a bit. I love that the heroine, Trinity, is a strong character who does not let her disability stop her, and she is more than capable to take care of herself (and in fact, take care of others too). She is impulsive and arrogant at times, but those traits do make her more human and relatable.

The bickering and growing relationship between her and Zayne was cute, and I am very interested in seeing how they progress. I admit, however, that when I started this book, I had no idea that it was the first of a new series. Honestly I am not a fan of series and I prefer stand-alones, mostly because I do not like to be left hanging and prefer to be able to finish a story nicely with one book. But that’s just me.

The Secret Keeper, by Kate Morton

Oh, Kate Morton. Ever since reading the Clockmaker’s Daughter, I knew I love Kate Morton’s style of writing, and I knew I would love this book. Although I confess that I was a bit scared of starting it because I also knew that it would a heavy read and I’d need to give my 101% attention to it to fully absorb the story. Oh but I loved it so much. As usual, Kate Morton had the reader (me) dangling from the start, constantly wondering what happened, what was happening, and what will happen next.

And the twist! Towards the end I was practically flying through the pages and giving everyone else in my real life the cold shoulder because I really wanted to know how it would all pan out. This book gave me all the feels, and if you have not yet read Kate Morton’s books, you should really give it a try.

The Flatshare, by Beth O’Leary

Sometimes I succumb to the pressure of bookstagram, and I buy a book that keeps appearing on my feed. Well, I was also looking for a light rom-com, and the back blurb sounded interesting enough. Now that I’ve read it, I will tell you that I am so glad I bought it because I enjoyed it so much more than I expected to.

The romance was slowburn (a new term I learned!) and believable, and the characters were absolutely loveable. I liked reading Leon’s point of view a lot, and in a way, he somehow reminded me of Eleanor Oliphant. This book also had some funny moments, and overall just very endearing.

The Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan

I’ve been meaning to try Amy Tan for a while, and finally, after some recommendations from a friend, I decided to pick up The Joy Luck Club. I began this book with tears in my eyes, and ended it with tears in my eyes. In between, my heart soared, dropped, warmed, and ached. I connected with the characters in many levels – as a Malaysian Chinese who scoffed at some of the “old fashioned” Chinese traditions; as a migrant in Australia who’s suddenly afraid of losing my roots; as a daughter who wished I had the chance to know my mother’s stories before she had passed away; as a mother raising children in Australia who knows they will soon have minds of their own, that may not always be in line with mine; as a parent who suddenly years for the kids to be more in touch with the “old fashioned” Chinese traditions that sort of made us who we are…

There were a few times I was tempted to DNF this book, because sometimes it was a bit tough to read. But I am so glad I continued on, because this truly is a treasure that will stay with me for a long time.

Evvie Drake Starts Over, by Linda Holmes

This was another book that I bought because it appeared all over bookstagram. Actually, now that I think of it, a lot of the books I buy these days are due to bookstagram influence. I can’t help it lol.

Unfortunately, this is one of the few that I felt did not work for me. The story in itself was interesting – exploring grief (but not in the way you think), guilt over not being something you think you should be, and the inability to continue on in one’s passion. I felt though that the pace was a bit too slow for me, and I wasn’t able to connect with the characters.

 

So that’s all for September! I’ll try to share my list for October soon, if I can lol.

Have you read any of the books listed above? Do share your thoughts! Also, if you’re interested in following my *ahem* booktography and book thoughts, please join me at Instagram @hercreativeescape. 🙂

 

 

Love,

Natalie

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