📚Summary of Books I Read, DNF and Currently Reading 2023

20 December 2023

 summary of books that I read so far in 2023

Hello! This is my first proper annual book wrap-up as I've finally read just enough for a wrap-up. In this post, I will share with you the 11 documented books I read that made it to my finished pile, the ones that got kicked into my DNF list, the "meh", and the ones that I'm currently reading. As a blogger who is slowly rediscovering her love for reading, I always wanted to write honest reviews of the books I read.

Books that I LURVED 🥰

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson 
Ratings: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
I just devoured the first book of this epic series and I'm obsessed. I seriously can't stop thinking about the plot twists, the characters, the world-building. I had to order the next two books ASAP. I won't lie, it was a bit of a struggle to get into the story at first because I'm fairly new to this genre, though due to my small appetite for books that are different to my usual reading palate, I just thought "why not?" There's also so much going on and so many names to remember, but trust me, it pays off big time. Would I recommend this book to readers who just started into fantasy? Yessssnoooo. This is not a book for the faint of heart, but if you're looking for a high fantasy adventure that will take you to another world, this is THE book to try. 

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara 
Ratings: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
So, I picked up this book again after a year and I don't know what possessed me to do that. It's still awesome and I love the characters and their bond so much. This is one of those books that make you want to erase your brain and start over, just to feel the thrill of reading it for the first time.

Deadpool Classic Killogy
by Cullen Bunn 
Ratings: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
This is actually my husband's comic he bought from Bookxcess a while ago and I was bored and suddenly in the mood to read comics. I'm not that familiar with Marvel or its heroes and villains, but I knew a bit about Deadpool. This one... was over-the-top in a really good way and Deadpool was super unpredictable in his "mission" to eliminate all Marvel heroes and villains. It's an interesting and borderline "concerning" read, I'd recommend it.

Some notable mentions:
  • Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Britt-Marie was Here by Fredrik Backman ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Books that Got DNF (did not finish) 🤨

The Canterville Ghost the Happy Prince: And Other Stories by Oscar Wilde
I was a huge fan of The Picture of Dorian Gray (movie adaptation was great too) when I read it last year, so I was eager to check out more of Oscar Wilde's stuff. I snagged this a copy from Bookxcess, but sadly, after a couple of stories in, I was snoozing and bored out of my mind. Maybe I'll give it another shot when I'm in the mood for some classics literature, but for now, it's going to the shelf of shame.

The Assignment by Liza Wiemer
I also bought this book from Bookxcess on a whim when I was in the area (not that I was actively trying to go bankrupt or anything). The blurb on the hardcover edition caught my eye; it was about a class project that required students to find positive aspects of the Holocaust, which sparked a lot of controversy. I thought it would be an interesting and provocative read, but I was disappointed by the writing style which felt flat and unpolished, meanwhile the plot of the book was... I don't know enough because I dropped it anyway. It just didn't hold my attention and I doubt I'll ever finish it, which is a pity.

Books I Thought Were "Meh" 😒

The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang 
Ratings: ⭐⭐⭐
Okay listen, this book has a huge, dedicated fan base and extraordinary number of positive reviews on Goodreads, TikTok, etc. I was sold to the idea of this book the first time I heard about it on TikTok because people were just loving it so much and recommending others to buy and read it when they could. I fell for it because I thought why not since so many have rekindled their reading hobby from this, enough to pursue the rest of the series. I read the entire book, starting off strong, loved that the main female character was badass (go gurl) and she had powers, there was plenty of action, but I just couldn't connect with her on a personal level at all. I couldn't understand why she did the things she set out to do. I really tried to like it but failed, so I gave my copy away to someone else.

If We Were Villains by M. L. Rio 
Ratings: ⭐⭐⭐
I made a dedicated thread on Twitter about my thoughts on this book. I'll quote the summary of that here: "I think the book is a little overhyped, I did have high expectations for it. At the same time, I can see why some people love the book so much. You either love it or just think the story was okay, but could be better."

And I'm currently reading... 😁

  • Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson. I'm only 2 pages in and will definitely continue over the holidays once I'm back in full health. 

From The River to the Sea, I Stand with Palestine

5 November 2023

Illustration credits @pixifies on X

This is a blog post where I want to talk about a very important and urgent problem that affects me and many people around the world: the ongoing violence in Palestine. I have been using social media to spread what I know, but I also want to create a space where I can explain more fully the situation and my position on this crucial issue.

My purpose here is to help people understand better the continuous atrocities inflicted on innocent Palestinian civilians and to raise awareness about the huge difficulties that they face. My position is clear: I stand with the Palestinians. I strongly believe that we have to keep on informing others about what is happening in Palestine, pressure our governments and organisations to stop the war and restore the land rights and dignity of the people. Challenge the false narratives and the outrageous systematic killings by the Zionist Israeli occupation forces.

On my Twitter account, I will keep on sharing information and updates from trustworthy sources, news agencies, and individuals who are there. These sources include reporters, human rights groups, and experts who work hard to document and report on the situation. I urge you to follow these sources too to keep up with the changing situation.

✅Learn about the current situation in Palestine.

✅Documentaries on Palestine's history leading to the genocide happening in the present.

✅Books, movies, documentaries about Palestine & Supporting Them.

✅The Devastating Reality of Palestine Right Now

 #CeasefireForGaza #Genocide_in_Gaza #FreePalaestine #IsraelTerrorism

Embracing the Way I Look and Loving It

4 August 2023

I came across this cool blog post by Joanna Goddard where she invited her readers to share what they love about their looks. I think it's such a great way to make people feel good about themselves, especially when we're so busy focusing on other things that we can sometimes overlook to appreciate ourselves a little. 

I have always struggled with my body image and in my late teens in the 2010s, it was hard to pick at what I liked seeing about myself. Of course, within that struggle, there were qualities I thought “Okay, I actually look good good.” I liked how those years of taekwondo weekend trainings and swimming classes got me abs (surprise, surprise but now I don’t have them anymore). I had muscles in my arms and thick shoulders like a bodybuilder. I adored the braces that I wore for two years, coming to school in different rubber band colours covering my crooked rabbit-like front teeth as I fondly called them.

Then in my early twenties, I started to appreciate my deep gentle voice and my accent when I speak with people and in giving presentations. I discovered the wonders of eyeliner and experimented with different styles until I finally found one that suited me best. My girls always hyped me up when I nailed a fierce cat-eye or long winged liner looks. Even years later, the eyeliner is still my signature thing and I never leave the house without it. 

Now in my late twenties, I'm learning to value the aspects of myself that I used to loathe when I was younger, like being soft and girly. I would wear earth-tone skirts or wide jeans and my favourite white blouses with the puffed sleeves on a date with my husband. I like that even now, I can still test different eyeshadow looks each time we go out and he’d always notice them and comment “Damn, girl slay.” 

So what about you, what make you feel awesome about the way you look? 💃🏻

I'm Taking a Break from Twitter, I'm Reading More Books Too...

13 July 2023


Hey, I'm back. Sorry for the long radio silence, but I've been busy with other stuff online. You know, tweeting, aggressively and maybe a bit too obsessed with posting pictures of my new cat Nana, watching TikTok, you name it. I just felt like I had nothing new to say here, so I didn't bother. 

Okay, so maybe I should give myself a bit more credit than that. I had ideas on like: 

  • Discussing why Karens are the way they are from a linguistic standpoint. Random but I was curious.
  • Reviewing the books I read. I'm super proud of my finished books this year.
  • My weekend routine. I was curious to know if it's any different to before, when I was single.
  • Even a gratitude list, which honestly, I don't feel like doing unless it's about me adopting my cat and getting books at a good bargain.
  • My PhD journey. Update: I'm not sure what to comment on this. 
Reading books was awesome for getting me back into blogging. I love how good writers can make words come alive, and how I have to adjust to their style. It inspired me to try something like that, even if it's just a random blog post that I've been putting off for too long.

I'm also currently on a Twitter detox again because that place feels like a hot mess right now. Maybe it's just me, but I'm definitely noticing the insane amount of tea and drama on that app, arguments over somebody's tweets, very depressing animal abuse news (I can't handle that too well), etc. I was part of that audience watching these unfold until I noticed that it was messing with my mood and even conversations I share with others. I knew that it was too much when things like what was happening to somebody else and had nothing to do with me, was affecting me emotionally. I realised I needed another break, at least until whatever all "this" dies down. 

Question, has anyone tried Threads lately? The new app from Metaverse? I've been trying it since the second day after the app was launched and I have to say, it feels less suffocating. For now, my Feed is mostly of book recommendations, cats cartoons and memes, and Genshin stuff. 

What have you been up to since I last posted? Any news or fun stories to share? I'd love to hear from you in the comments. Let's chat! 😃

🚗Travelling Around Ipoh and the Places We Visited

19 March 2023

At this point, in the couple of months that I’ve been married, my husband and I have gone on a couple of trips together. Sometimes, it’s just a half-day trip to an anime or cat convention, the nearest beach to our home, or a walk at the park (mostly I’m dragged to join these). If not for those brief trips, we’d spend our weekends indoors, winding down while doing house chores, playing games and watching TV. Standard introvert-friendly things, I suppose.

But there are the occasional lengthy ones too, like our recent family vacation last weekend in Ipoh, Perak. 

Given that everyone's schedules were free and we hadn't yet taken a family vacation together, it was the perfect opportunity to travel and see the vibrant city for two days.

Also note: Two days to explore Ipoh IS NOT ENOUGH. The town may be a lot smaller than most, but it just bamboozled me that whichever corner or new street we took, there was always something to explore. If you know, you know. 

Here are just a few of the places we visited that I have photos of:

🌄 Taman Rekreasi Gunung Lang

I truly think this was the location we spent the most time exploring, other than THAT bookshop you'll read about later. First things first, I would say that parking was rather straightforward; there was plenty of space available, with the exception that it was an open rooftop parking place. Our car felt very much like an oven after we returned.

The view of the surrounding mountains and contrasting blue sky felt surreal, nothing at all like the ones we see in Kuala Lumpur in the forms of skyscrapers and high-rise condos. I must have snapped dozens of pictures of this view, almost blinding myself from the late morning sun in the process. 

Before I go on if you’re planning to come here, try to arrive as soon as it opens at 8:30 AM because the weather can be blazing hot. Plenty of trees and other vegetation around sure, but some of the spaces are open to the mercy of the sun. So, get that sunscreen on (because I sure as heck forgot mine and thus, explains my sunburn), hat and water bottle at the ready. 

Entry tickets were only RM3 per adult for the boat ride that would take us across the lake, the actual space we could explore. One boat ride later, we came across this:

A series of winding paths leading from the lake to gazebos, replicas of traditional Perak houses (at the time we were there, there were all except for one under maintenance, too bad), a watch tower, children’s playground and a spot to rent bicycles to cycle around too. The weather may have been almost unbearable, but the view and places to take pictures made it all worth it.

🚶🏽‍♀️Concubine Lane

My first impression: “Wow, this place looked a lot bigger in the pictures.” and I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who thought the same. 

True to its name, it really is just a lane except that it’s so beautiful with lanterns and street art, teeming with shops, cafes and stalls of food and souvenirs. This place was certainly vibrant with rich history and culture. Unfortunately, I don’t have many pictures whilst exploring here because it was very crowded, people were squeezing past each other in two compressed lines. To fully appreciate Concubine Lane and explore its surroundings, visit it on the weekdays or even weekends when it’s not the school holidays.

I bought a souvenir for myself and my family: cute cat bookmarks for just RM2 each from a stall. I become weak with anything cat printed on it. We also purchased a variety of cinnamon rolls: classic, soft-baked apple and biscoff from a local-owned stall while we waited for the evening rain to subside (they tasted so good!). 

🛍️BookXcess Kong Heng Ipoh

Definitely one of my favourite stops so far on this trip. Unlike other Bookxcess stores that I’ve been to, this one is completely unique as it is built or integrated inside an actual historical bank. Books are laid out on shelves in preserved bank vaults and authentic deposit boxes. There were plenty of benches to sit and read, cosy spots for pictures and cheeky neon lights decorating the walls and staircases. I could have been left there for hours exploring each room and corner of this bookstore. If the books weren’t mostly wrapped, I would have stayed longer. It’s just one of the things I’m always not entirely happy about with Bookxcess.

On a brighter note, I couldn’t help myself and went to buy a book. So much for going through my current TBR first.

🥟Canning Dim Sum

We knew this place is something of a viral go-to eatery in Ipoh so we made it our priority to have breakfast there first thing in the morning. The earlier, the better since by the time we all made it to the entrance, it was swamped with customers. We reserved one table and while we waited for it to be available, we took a couple of pictures outside where there were props set up. Also, a great opportunity to drink up that sweet Vitamin D I so heavily lack.

Once seated, we had a very friendly and helpful waitress taking our drinks. We ordered two pots of tea: jasmine and chrysanthemum, and a couple of personalised dishes. Then a tray of many different dim sums, both of steamed and fried variety were presented to us and we could choose right there and then what we wanted. Fair warning, they didn't specify how much each of those dim sums were or how much we were to pay in sum (of course, the menu sheet would help if it was still on our table). They simply recommended a few dim sum options, we pointed to what we liked, the waitress placed ticks on our order sheet that was on the table and boom, later on at the cashier, the receipt was enough to make me stutter (it wasn’t all that bad). Then again, everything did look so tempting and interesting to try, and we did go a little above budget after finishing everything. It was so good, my favourite being the Sweet & Sour Beancurd Roll. Would we drop by again if we were at Ipoh? Definitely.

Other places we visited: Miker Food, Pasar Karat Ipoh, Restoran M. Salim

Things That Happened in February

23 February 2023

Hey peeps! The weekends are just around the corner again (how is time flowing so fast, explain??) and I thought this is the perfect time to do a quick wrap-up of how my February is going, and maybe just a little peek into January too... Since you know, I've been MIA for a bit and a lot has happened.

Thankfully, I actually remembered to take pictures during these events too, so more good stuff to share! 😌

🍳Made more home-cooked foods

The month of February has seen me cook way more frequently than I've ever done since the MCO. I'm not much of a cook because I get pretty lost without a handy recipe to follow. I trust Che Nom with my life when it comes to trying out new recipes, or else things would turn out very differently. 

What I've made so far:
  • Black pepper beef fried rice
  • Chicken curry
  • Apple salads
  • Kuah kurma
Do y'all have any easy-to-make recipes you'd like to recommend? I'm dying to try something new to add to my list!

🐱Adopted Nana and had vet visits

It's almost been a month since we adopted Nana into our lives and she is simply a wonderful teeny companion to have around the home. She's adapted pretty fast to her current surroundings and from my POV, I'm getting used to seeing her zooming like a squirrel around the house. I just have to be a bit more mindful of my food whenever she's around indoors, or else the next thing I know, she's dug her little nose into my lunch!

You can read the full story of Nana here, but she's currently on medication, specifically for deworming and a few other things. Other than that, she's a great eater and loves to tire herself out by playing. The only problem I have right now is my phone storage is getting really close to being full and I take pictures and videos of her almost every day. I'm getting too obsessed over this zooming furball! 

📚Bought more books! Any tips on finding preloved copies?

Just this month alone, I've had the wonderful chance of visiting bookstores a bit more regularly. From POPULAR to Eslie Bookstore in Bukit Bintang, and even Gerakbudaya in Penang. However, by some miracle, I managed to refrain myself from hoarding all the books on my wishlist other than a few:
  • My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell
  • The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon (Currently reading)
Books are pricey. Period. So I'm hoping that I have enough patience in me to wait for sales promotions or just buy secondhand copies.

🏖️Visited Penang for the first time!

That's right. Other than that one time when my one-year-old self was in Penang many, many years ago, I don't have any other recollection of visiting the island. I was there for a few days with my husband for our honeymoon and we had put on our "Dora the Explorer" hat while in Georgetown. The weather was hot and sunny, and we were dressed up looking very much like the tourists we wanted to be–me with the big sunhat and dress, while my husband was in his favourite floral buttoned-up shirt.

🦷Took a trip to the dentist *helppp*

Well, I don't have much to say about this one, but if you haven't been to the dentist in a while, I strongly suggest that you do. Like, very soon. My teeth were pretty okay but maintaining them would have been less of a hassle or pricey if I had followed the "every 6 months visit" thing.

🛍️Furniture shopping

We upgraded or added a few things to our home, specifically a new skincare trolley, full-length mirror, toothbrush organiser, laundry bag, bathroom shelf, and a whole lot of other things too.

🎈I went to a cosplay event 

This has to be our third anime/cosplay event so far since last year and this one was pretty epic despite its modest size. There were cosplayers and cute booths set up. I don't mean to brag but I managed to escape free from buying anything. I was this close to bringing a cute keychain or Genshin sticker home. 🥹

🧹Cleaned up my Google Drive storage 

Since earlier this year, I had Google sending me notifications saying that my storage was getting full. Not surprisingly, it was mostly taken up by videos and pictures of my own cats. My selfies where??? Anyway, I dismissed it for two good months before it had gotten to the point that it had reached 98% full storage capacity and I became paranoid if the newer pictures/videos I had taken were saved or not. 

I did consider buying more storage but... I was and still am broke. I'm already paying for other monthly commitments too, the latest being my cat. In the end, I rolled up my sleeves and got into the gritty work of filtering my files, pictures and videos. 

I'm now back to 8GB. 😵

We had a great family dinner over CNY!

I had my birthday celebration with both my family and in-laws. It was wonderful. I had so much cake and good food I'm pretty sure (and have confirmed) I've gained weight. We rarely have gatherings now that everybody has gotten busier but we had a great one on the weekends, especially during the CNY holidays. My sister makes amazing fruit cocktails and well, pretty much anything. 

💸Girly outings with "Broke Beruks" squad

My friends and I made a rule some time ago that no matter what, we'd agree to meet up every few months and have a great girl outing sessh. For now, boys aren't allowed in any of our meetups but the rule may change in the future (who knows). Anyway, during our last outing, we had brunch at this restaurant I've never been to called "Fish & Co" and the food (if you just "tutup sebelah mata" the price for a bit) tastes so good??? I'm very, very sceptical of fish and chips dishes from restaurants because based on my experience, they were almost always disappointing with the fish made of low-quality ingredients, and frozen chips and I'd go home feeling hungry like I haven't just had a meal a while ago. 

But their "The Best Fish & Chips"??? Their fish was freshly made and came in a large portion (couldn't finish mine), and so were their chunky savoury fries. They tasted good even without being dipped into the sauce (I forgot what it was).

We Adopted a New Kitty!

17 February 2023

I didn't think that my first ever post in the past few months and in 2023 would be about a cat (although she's not just any cat, of course) but if you've followed my blog for a while, you'd know that's nothing new. I don't make my obsession with cats, specifically my own a secret. And because this is about my cat, I'm more than happy to blog about her and share with you how I first adopted her and how she's fitting in with us.

But perhaps we should take a step back for a minute, and let me add more context and get you up to date with what's going on. I recently got married (yay!) and have moved out with my husband. If you've read about my other two cats who are both living with my family (Being Mom to Leo & It's Time You Meet Leo) right now, you'd know that I've had cats in my life for a long while. I think roughly almost 10 years and I honestly cannot imagine a life without a zooming blurred furball running around the house and demanding cuddles. 

Even before I got married, I knew, wanted. no needed a furball friend in my life, especially to accompany me at home and just have a special subject for me to fill my phone gallery with. 

About Nana

Unlike Dessi and Leo who were rescued, my cat Nana was adopted from a Facebook group I'm part of. I had joined a couple of pet adoption groups and scoured posts about cats for roughly two very desperate weeks, trying to find a cat or kitten that I could have chemistry with. I didn't have any specific preference over the breed, gender, colour, etc. What was important was that he/she would be alright with living indoors and outdoors, friendly and litter trained. 

I saw a post on Nana (her previous name was Jula) by chance, maybe published within just 20 minutes, and saw a couple of her pictures looking ABSOLUTELY ADORABLE, that the pickup location was literally 5-10 minutes away from where I lived, she's friendly and manja. My heart was sold. I quickly contacted her owner on Messenger and it was decided that very afternoon, I could have her. And throughout this whole process, I had my husband's full support to get whichever cat I wanted. He's not a cat or animal person per se, but seeing me happy over cats made him happy. 

How We Adopted Nana

At the time that I was messaging Nana's previous owner and inquiring about what she was like and her specific needs, she and her other furball family were staying at a cat hotel also close to my home. If I remember correctly, it was on a Saturday or Sunday when I borrowed Leo's carrier and was driven to the hotel to pick her up. When I first saw her, she was in her full manja purring "pat me now!" mode. She wasn't shy with strangers, as long as they looked friendly enough to offer her pats and attention. My husband and I bought claw clippers on our way out of the cat hotel.

At home, we had a reasonably large cat cage at the ready, a food bowl full and a couple of toys to help her settle down. She seemed unfazed by the changes in scenery and the fact that she's been adopted. All that mattered to her was an unlimited supply of attention and pats from her new hoomans.

Brainstorming Her Name

Her original name was Jula because she was born on a Friday (Jumaat) along with her brother, Juli. She takes after her mother a lot, a medium-sized poofy grey cat and who was also at the cat hotel where we picked her up. In a way, the name does suit her because it's such a lovely name for the likeable temperament she has. But I thought a different name would be fine too. Like a fresh start or a new beginning for her. Me and my family brainstormed for the right name that would just click with her.

We came up with Nana, Nala, Nugget (lmao) and a few others that my friends suggested. In the end, Nana just seemed to fit her best and it sounds manja when we call her out. Where did Nana Tuna come from though? It's because she loveeeed the canned tuna treats I gave her during her first week with us. It's to the point that she sometimes smelled of tuna and she purposely picked at her kibbles for just the tuna bits.

Getting Used to a New Home

I'd be honest, although Nana was doing extremely well at adapting to her new home, she did show signs of missing her family. She's a very social kitten who was used to living together with other cats. At home, my two other indoor cats (well, my family's cats to be specific) aren't the friendliest bunch. Leo, in particular, despises cats regardless of how friendly they are or their gender, while Dessi is overall not friendly with anyone other than two-legged humans. 

Luckily for Nana, we did have a friendly ginger cat roughly around her size and age usually hanging outside our home. We call him Rocky (I forgot what's the origin story behind this) and he took a liking to her immediately. He stayed by her cage the entire time, keeping her company and playfully pawing at her through the metal cage. At some point, when he takes a short stroll in another part of the garden and away from her line of sight, she'd meow and call him back.

Now in my own home, I bring Nana indoors to chill and stretch her legs for a couple of hours. She cherishes these moments specifically to 1) get the full pat session, 2) do zoomies around the house and accidentally slam against random sliding windows and doors, and 3) stalk her owners (me) wherever in the house. 

Meds Time (Burrito Mode)

I knew what I was signing up for even before I thought of adopting a cat in my life. But it still caught me by surprise at how much investment pet owners need to be ready with for their furbabies, especially for new ones in the family. Nana needs a lot of my attention because she's such a clingy cat by nature, and when she's doing her zoomies, I have to let her do what she needs to do. It's funny to watch but at the same time, I sometimes worry that she'd get injured (she's doing fine!). 

Recently, she had ear mites problems (now already cleared) and we had to give her meds on the daily. The treatment isn't exactly cheap but it's something very common to happen to cats, whether they live indoors or not. For us, it would happen sooner or later. When it came to medication time, my husband would wrap her up inside a towel while wearing bright red boxing gloves for protection, and all the while Nana looking like a tasty cat-burrito that she is, before I pinched a couple of drops of the meds into her ears. I wish I took more pictures of her looking like a puffed up burrito, but she's usually too hyper for me to get a couple of good shots. She almost always looks like a blurred gargoyle in these pictures.

🐱More on Nana Tuna Soon!

So what do you think of Nana? I'll definitely write more about her soon, the moment I have enough good pictures of her that I can salvage. And since I haven't been on this platform in a while, share what's been going on with you guys!