The Woman Who Married a Bear by John Straley – Book #1 of Cecil Younger Investigation Set in Alaska

I don’t usually read detective or private investigation stories. My wife does. There are a couple of reasons why I picked this book up from the local library.

First, the title enticed me. Second, Alaska intrigues me (it seems so different from the rest of America). Third, I managed to borrow the entire 6-book series from the library. The downside is that I have to finish reading them within six weeks!

The Woman Who Married a Bear started with the main character Cecil Younger taken up a private investigation job on a closed murder case. While investigating this bizarre murder case, someone was trying to kill him.

Cecil is not a successful PI. He has a weakness of getting drunk most of the time. But he has a good network for information. He is fearless and would do all that he can to get to the truth.

The story is loosely based on one of the Tlingit myths. It goes much deeper than that. I had fun reading it and am looking forward to book #2!

The Ninth Hour by Alice McDermott – An Irish Catholic Story in the Early 20th Century America

The Ninth Hour tells the story of a man who committed suicide leaving behind his wife and his unborn daughter. The Catholic nuns took in the widow and her daughter was raised by the Catholic clan. The story is narrated by the children of the daughter.

What I really like about this book is the amount of detail that goes into the day-to-day work of a nun and the life of the main characters. It is so vivid as though I was living through the early 20th century of America. As a Catholic, I can immediately grasp the concept of sin and penance amongst other topics such as the political dynamic between priests, nuns, and the Church.

I found this book very enjoyable to read.

I Had So Much Fun in the Last Five Days

My job revolves around many weekends of work. Close to half of the weekends in 2019. During weekdays, there are numerous monthly forums and meetings that I have to attend. In short, it is rather hard to find a good day to go on leave. I am happy that both my wife and I were able to take Monday and Tuesday off. And the last five days – counting the Friday evening – have been amazing. Here is a list of random recollection.

It all started here.
  • Nov 1st (Friday) was a very significant date for the fans of Blizzard. It was Blizzcon 2019. Now, of course, due to time zone difference, it would only officially start my Nov 2nd at 2 a.m. in the morning. So let’s rewind a bit.
  • Nov 1st was All Saints Day. It has been a while since I have visited a Church. I was happy that my wife could join me for a lunchtime Mass at the Cathedral. Fun fact. I was trying to get my buddy Jeremy – also a fellow Catholic – to join us. The response was: which Cathedral? I was like … dude, there is only one [Catholic] Cathedral in Singapore (I didn’t feel the need to specify)! He responded, “St. Andrew”? I face-palmed. Ours is Cathedral of the Good Shepard. St. Andrew’s Cathedral is an Anglican Church. “Does it really matter?” asked Jeremy. Long story short, eucharistic intercommunion is not possible. So yes, you may. And no, the communion doesn’t count.
  • Hero’s is a bar in Singapore CBD that has a lovely live band. I have been there so many times that the band knows me. Miraculously, my wife has agreed to visit Hero’s on a Friday night with me. Her first at Hero’s.
  • The 10 p.m. party was amazing. Way better than the one we have attended earlier on. We stayed close to the very end (past 2 a.m.).
  • My wife and I watched the Blizzcon 2019 opening ceremony live via YouTube on my wireless phone while we were partying at Hero’s. It was our first time tuning into the event live. The announcements and the trailers were amazing. Diablo 4 – a game we care about a lot and will buy when it eventually releases. Overwatch 2 – a game we had fun with and since O2 will have PvE content, it is a sure buy. World of Warcraft new expansion Shadowland – love the trailer but for sure we will not play that game again.
  • I have finished reading The Ninth Hour by Alice McDermott. After returning the books at the library, I have borrowed not one but six books! All six books are from the same author called John Straley. Some Alaska bizarre private investigation. I have to finish all the books within six weeks. That means I should not spend more than a week to complete one book. Uh oh.
  • It was my wife and my first time trying out Mbar Mini KTV. It is a small Karaoke booth charged by 15-minute blocks. The booth comes with one TV (duh), two stools, two microphones, and two headsets. English song choice is so-so. Pretty decent recording and sound system. Clean environment. We sang for half-an-hour and we had fun.
  • Talking about being spontaneous, after Sunday’s dinner, I have suggested visiting a real KTV and my wife gamed for it. There was a promotion at Party World. Twenty-odd dollars per person for not one but FOUR hours of Karaoke. We sang from nine till one in the morning. Again, we had fun.
  • And we have finally mastered the art of not-over-ordering at a Korean restaurant. Celebrated our 19th wedding anniversary at Big Mama (in actual fact, we celebrated our anniversary throughout the entire long weekend). We had BBQ boneless beef short ribs and ginseng chicken soup. Yummy.

2019 has been a fun year. Some asked if we are doing something special for our anniversary. In our own way, we are trying to make every day special.

Severance by Ling Ma – One of the Best I have Read Of Late

I have picked up Severance randomly from a local library. Initially attracted to the concept of a story of an apocalypse at the backdrop of office life, the millennials, modern society, and Chinese immigrants, this book turns out to be something special. Something I really enjoy reading. I took my time and had to read the ending twice as I was not entirely sure if it is what it is.

Time does not flow linearly in this story. There are lots of flashbacks and side stories. Effortlessly though, the narration is smooth without causing any confusion. That is just art. One of the central themes is routine. How we day in and day out going through our routines in the office and at home (similar to the zombies or the “fevered” in the apocalypse world). Another theme is nostalgia and the Internet is a giant collection of our past (and how much time we spent with it).

That ending though still haunts me. It is so open-ended. The readers are the ones who are going to complete the journey. I won’t be surprised if we have different interpretations.

The First Girl Child by Amy Harmon

Amy Harmon is becoming one of my favorite authors in recent times. The First Girl is a story loosely based on Norse mythology. In the fictional kingdom called Saylok spins a story of salvation and love. It is a fresh take on a completely unique legend whereby the clans are the descendants of eagle, bear, wolf, horse, boar, and lion. Each clan takes turn to be the next King of Saylok. A curse has fallen onto the people of Saylok. No girl child shall be born. Yet one girl is born. Will she become the salvation of Saylok? Will Saylok survive the conflict within and beyond?

I would strongly recommend The First Girl Child. It is a magical journey, an easy read, and a page-turner.