Thursday 9 January 2014

13 in 2013

I'm a bad blogger. I've done the A to Z challenge twice where you have to blog every day for the month of April but then I go months in a row without posting anything. It's the beginning of a new year so it's time for a quick review. I'm still planning to write some blogs on travel we did this past autumn once I find the time...

Coincidentally, I read 13 books and visited 13 countries in this past year of 2013. So that's how my review is going to go this year. In chronological order (note that the Philippines has been our temporary residence and all trips came and went from here this year):

1. The Philippines (The Street Lawyer by John Grisham) - I live in the Philippines right now so it seems an injustice to try to summarize it but here goes: It's really hot and the people are really nice. Done. Grisham is classic and my husband said this book changed the course of his life when he was in school so there.

2. Indonesia (Sacré Bleu: A Comedy d'Art by Christopher Moore) - I was in Indonesia for less than a week for a conference and I was sick the whole time. Amazing food. Must go back. I quite enjoyed Sacre Blue. A bid weird but I like this fictional glimpse into the life of the artists.

3. Japan* (Hit Man by Lawrence Block) - Flew through Narita and Nagoya on my trip to the US. I bought green tea chocolates. Good times. Hit Man is a collection of short stories from the perspective of a somewhat reluctant assassin. He also collects stamps.

4. USA (Ghostman by Roger Hobbs) - Spent a week in Dallas for a workshop. Rode a horse, ate some BBQ, shopped at Target. I barely remember Ghostman now but I don't think I particularly liked it.

5. Hong Kong* (The Disciple of Las Vegas by Ian Hamilton) - Airport stop to and from Canada! Got some Hong Kong dollars for next time. As much as I enjoy the Ava Lee novels, the brand name dropping drives me nuts! 

6. Canada (Pebble in the Sky by Isaac Asimov) - Went back "home" for my husband's brother's wedding. Super intense time hanging with friends and family! Pebble was ok.

7. Malaysia (The Stars, Like Dust by Isaac Asimov) - Went to Malaysia for a work meeting. It was beautiful and the food was epic. Had our first teh tarik and roti canai. My life will never be the same. The Stars was absolute rubbish. (btw, Asimov is still one of my favourite authors ever.)

8. Thailand (Ready Player One by Ernest Cline) - Thailand was part of the same work trip to Malaysia. Again, beautiful country, amazing food, complex culture... I loved Ready Player One! Looking at the list, probably my favourite read of 2013. Just so much fun!

9. Laos** (Shibumi by "Trevanian" aka Dr. Rodney William Whitaker) - We took a boat to a Laos island. I bought a scarf. Shibumi is hilarious but you have to research the author to really get the joke.

10. Myanmar** (Trapped by Kevin Hearne) - Spent about 10 minutes in a border town. Took a few photos. Couldn't find postcards for sale. Trapped is part of the Iron Druid series. It was fun but a lot different from the original formula. Hope they get better again.

11. Singapore (The Wild Beasts of Wuhan by Ian Hamilton) - Meet up with the in-laws here. I've read enough distopia to recognize it happening in real life. Singapore is creepy. Great zoo, though. Another Ava Lee novel. This was a really good one.

12. Cambodia (The Coroner's Lunch by Colin Cotterill) - Siem Reap is amazing! Gorgeous and fantastic food... The temples are awesome. Coroner's Lunch was a fun mystery. Might read more in the series.

13. Vietnam (The Quiet American by Graham Greene) - Vietnam is epic. The food, the architecture, the culture... The Quiet American is set in the '50 during the French war in Vietnam... It's pretty heavy but help one gain a better understanding of the roots of this complicated culture.

* Airport only
** Part of the Golden Triangle tour from Thailand

Looking over these lists I find it interesting that quite a few of the novels I read were set in some of the countries that I visited. Shibumi takes place partially in Japan, both Ian Hamilton books have stop-overs in Hong Kong and Canada, The Coroner's Lunch is almost entirely in Laos and The Quiet American we read in preparation for the Vietnam trip as it is set there. Most of the rest are US or Europe. Or future space colonies in the case of the two Asimov ones.

As mentioned, I've fallen behind in my travel blogging so I'm going to try to go back and write up some stuff from the last year and hopefully posted over the next few weeks. Stay tuned!


  1. First of all, I want to be the person in the picture with the tigers because tigers are my favorite animal, but I've never been allowed to pet one (or keep one) since nobody wants me to be eaten.

    Secondly, did you happen to go the the Stalk Yards in Dallas? I know that area of Texas pretty well and that's what it looks like. If not, go next time you're in the area.

    1. Tigers are super awesome. There are a few places around the world where you can safely touch them. Just gotta do some research to make sure it's legit!

      I DID go to the stock yards! We have a co-worker from Texas that showed us foreigners around. That picture was taken at a ranch just South of Fort Worth.