My 2013 Reading Challenge: The Results!

Hip hip hooray! I did it! This was my second year taking on a reading challenge, and after the success I had with my first one, I decided to go at it again in 2013, and will probably continue to do so year after year. My goal has been consistent at 12 books a year, or roughly one book a month. Some books take longer than others. I am also a bit of a completionist, so once I start a book that is part of a series, I have a tendency to churn through to read everything else related to it.

Last year, I really enjoyed reading The Hunger Games trilogy, which helped me realize that I really enjoy reading books that (a) target young adult audiences, so long as they aren’t filled with teenage angst, (b) enjoy sci-fi and fantasy novels, but particularly (c) really enjoy the dystopia genre. I pretty much stuck to it last year, and still have several books on my Want To Read list for this year that fall into these categories.

This year, I also ended up adding some books to my Never Finished list. It turns out there were some books that I just could not get into, or did not find enough motivation to finish.



  1. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell ★★★★★
  2. Bloodsucking Fiends (A Love Story #1) by Christopher Moore ★★
  3. Warm Bodies (Warm Bodies #1) by Isaac Marion ★★★
  4. The New Hunger (Warm Bodies #0.5) by Isaac Marion ★★★
  5. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline ★★★★
  6. Battle Royale by Koushun Takami ★★★★★
  7. Microserfs by Douglas Coupland ★★
  8. Ender’s Game (Ender Series #1) by Orson Scott Card ★★★★★
  9. Speaker for the Dead (Ender Series #2) by Orson Scott Card ★★★★★
  10. Xenocide (Ender Series #3) by Orson Scott Card ★★★
  11. Children of the Mind (Ender Series #4) by Orson Scott Card ★★★
  12. Allegiant (Divergent #3) by Veronica Roth ★★★
  13. Ender’s Shadow (Shadow Series #1) ★★★★★
  14. William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily, a New Hope by Ian Doescher ★★★★
  15. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens ★★★★

As you can see from Battle Royale and Allegiant, I just couldn’t fill the hole in my heart left by the end of The Hunger Games. (Speaking of which… I was so ecstatic that the Catching Fire movie was released in November — which was AMAZING by the way! It was like watching the novel come to life! Beautifully done! And Peeta! Oh, Peeta! ♡ ♡ ♡ ♡ ♡)

I pretty much immersed myself in the Enderverse this year. A friend recommended it to me, and was surprised I never read it in high school as most other kids did. I really enjoyed Ender’s Game. Like, a lot. Obsessively. I couldn’t put it down. I couldn’t get enough of Ender, and his artificially sentient friend Jane (who I pictured to look and sound a lot like Mass Effect’s EDI). And Bean! Oh, I loved Bean! But as I progressed through the Ender series, and through the Shadow series, the books became less sci-fi, and more religious, political, and philosophical. I could sense the characters changing, almost in ways that didn’t feel true to their original selves. I just couldn’t continue on.

Started, but Never Finished in 2013:

  • You Suck (A Love Story #2) by Christopher Moore

The first book was okay, and the completionist in me wanted to continue on, but honestly this book wasn’t even mildly entertaining. I set it down almost immediately after I started it.

  • The Girl Who Was on Fire: Your Favorite Authors on Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games Trilogy by Leah Wilson

I actually started reading this in 2012, but didn’t get very far. I loved The Hunger Games, but I just couldn’t love a collection of analytic essays about The Hunger Games. Not my cup of tea, I guess.

  • Early Retirement Extreme: A Philosophical and Practical Guide to Financial Independence by Jacob Lund Fisker

This is actually a good book. It’s a bit too extreme for my tastes, but I knew that coming in to it. I got just about halfway through it, and it definitely helped give me a new perspective on money and finance. I didn’t feel the urge to push through to the end just yet, but perhaps in the future, I’ll pick it back up again.

  • Paris, My Sweet: A Year in the City of Light by Amy Thomas

This book was not what I expected. Maybe I’m just not a fan of non-fiction. This book was described to be “part love letter to New York, part love letter to Paris, and total devotion to all things sweet,” but it definitely was… not. I read a couple of pages, flipped through to the middle, and then jumped right to the end. There is a listing of shops and confectionaries in the back which may be of use if/when I visit Paris, but otherwise, this book came off as… blah.

Here’s hoping 2014 is a better year for reading! It’s not even February and I’m already on my third book! in Review: The 2013 Annual Report





Happy New Year from MMM-FRUIT!

This has not been my best year of blogging, and I suppose if I make any New Year’s Resolutions this year, it will be to push on, do my best, and ガンバレ to get more photos and posts up here. It’s been a crazy year, and I am happy to say GOOD RIDDANCE & ADIEU 2013! It was definitely not my best, and probably one of the reasons I avoided sharing so much on my blog. To quickly summarize my bad string of luck, to just put it out there and be done with it, I’ll just emphasize some key words, including but not limited to: unemployment, car crash, bad health, the flu. But in the end, things have started to turn around. I have a full time job now, which accounts for my lack of free time to catch up on blogging, and *knock on wood* I haven’t gotten sick since earlier this year. I’m hoping it’s all a sign of things to come in 2014.

Crunch numbers

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 32,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 12 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

In 2013, there were 45 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 295 posts.

The busiest day of the year was June 6th with 474 views. The most popular post that day was Brobee Beanie Hat Pattern.


Most Popular Posts in 2012

  1. Pastillas de Leche: A No-Cook Recipe!
  2. Brobee Beanie Hat Pattern
  3. Kyary Pamyu Pamyu at J-POP SUMMIT Festival 2013
  4. ¡Hola, Las Chillonas!
  5. Nyanda Cafe

My Lovely Readers! (Hello, You!)

2013 Visitors

Thank you for a wonderful year of blogging! Please take a moment to like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter. :)

Not So Black After All?


Remember that avocado pit of mine that I’ve been trying to grow? Well, it hasn’t died yet! I guess my “black thumb” isn’t so black after all! This week, I nipped off its top few leaves (to encourage growth, supposedly) and transferred it into a 10-inch pot. I’m using Miracle-Gro soil because, well, I’m hoping it will work some kind of miracle.


Who knew our guacamole would actually grow into something more…? ;)

Things I Love: September Edition


I’m still getting used to my new day-to-day schedule, and trying to find time to continue doing the things I love, including writing in this blog. I’ve still got a backlog of posts and it embarrasses me that I still haven’t gotten around to sharing the rest of my Summer 2012 travel posts about Japan, but I promise, they are coming! Hopefully sooner, than later.

I just wanted to take a moment to say, “hello!” and let you readers know that I am still here. I also wanted to share a few things that I’ve been into lately:

  1. Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Saga. I’m on the third book in the series, Xenocide. I flew right through the pages of Ender’s Game — which I highly recommend, and was surprised I had not read sooner. I am excited for the film coming out later this year, and hope it won’t be a disappointing book-to-movie adaptation. Once I finish Xenocide, that will place me at having read 10 books towards my goal of 12 books in 2013. I’m making good progress this year with the 2013 Reading Challenge!
  2. Justin Timberlake. Always have and always will be a big fan of his, but I am especially loving his most recent live performances which include comedic skits with Jimmy Fallon and his amazing mini-concert performance prior to his acceptance of the Video Vanguard award at the 2013 MTV VMAs a couple weeks ago. The second part of his 20/20 Experience drops this month, and I cannot contain the teenage girl inside me who still swoons for him, especially as I’ve heard the second part will run about 74 minutes!
  3. Boccalone’s Brown Sugar Fennel Salame. Seriously — OH. MY. GOD. I’ve passed by Boccalone several times in San Francisco’s Ferry Building Marketplace, but I’ve never had a taste of their offerings until now. This makes for a delicious appetizer or mid-day snack when paired with fresh-baked Acme bread. Mmmm…! Now, if only the weather were warmer, so I could enjoy it with a glass of wine, as well! A taste of the city almost makes me miss working in San Francisco. (I say almost, because, frankly, I couldn’t stand such a long commute!)


And saving the best for last, I cannot put into words how excited I am for Lady Gaga‘s ARTPOP to be released. I’ve heard a sample from her performance at the 2013 iTunes Festival and now I am just salivating for more…! I’ve already dropped some not-so-subtle hints to my DH that her album (and unrelated, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire movie) are being released just days before my birthday… ;)

In other mundane news… weather has been strange in California. I can’t tell if it’s summer or not, or whether fall is just around the corner or still weeks away. I’m not quite ready to say goodbye to summer yet but I am looking forward to the family-filled holiday festivities, pumpkin spice lattes, and warm mulled wine.

What are you all looking forward to in the days to come?

My Little Green Thumb?


Yikes! It’s been a month since my last post. I’m… embarrassingly behind on blogging. I really, really, REALLY want to catch up on my “lost blog” posts and finish writing about my summer travels in Japan. But I’ve been crazy busy, and haven’t been on the computer or internet much. Part of the reason earlier this year was because I was always sick; but more recently it’s because of something more on the positive side. I have a few little tidbits of good news to share. First is that I’ve started a new job recently (yay!), which is why you haven’t seen much of me on my blog or on Twitter. This is mainly why I have so little free time now. And separately, unrelated to blogging, the second bit of news I wanted to share is that the black thumb I thought I had is turning out to be a little green, after all! I usually have terrible luck with plants; even easy-care-for ones like lucky bamboo. However, this avocado pit is looking promising! I started growing this avocado tree about two months ago, and it’s starting to take root and break out of the seed. I’m very excited to see what will become of it!

Kyary Pamyu Pamyu at J-POP SUMMIT Festival 2013

I’m a BIG fan of the J-POP SUMMIT Festival which is held annually in the summer at San Francisco’s Japan Town. I attended the 1st annual event back in August 2009, when the New People store also celebrated its grand opening launch. There were a few Japanese bands who performed back in 2009, including one of my favorite bands ever, TsuShiMaMiRe, and another band I was familiar with, Noodles.


Seeing as how real Japanese bands traveled to the U.S. to perform for this festival, I decided to keep my eye out for the future events in case other bands I liked would make an apperance. Of course then, as you know, I moved to Japan and missed the next couple of years’ festivals… This year, the 5th annual festival was held over the weekend (July 27-28) and I was super, crazy excited (!!!!!!!!!) to see the lineup of performances included THE Kyary Pamyu Pamyu!

Kyary Pamyu Pamyu

I LOVE HER. Ever since her video for PONPONPON came out, which I had to watch again, and again, and again… I was hooked.

SO OF COURSE despite my allergies, despite having a crazy busy week and weekend, and despite starting a new job and wanting to sleep in past 6:00 AM for the first time in two weeks, I KNEW I HAD TO GO TO SAN FRANCISCO AND SEE HER.

Kyary Pamyu Pamyu at the J-POP SUMMIT Festival 2013

She was amazing! I can’t believe I got to watch her live, so close, and for free! She opened with Pamyu Pamyu Revolution followed by PONPONPON, Invader Invader (her latest single), Fashion Monster, Kyary An-An, and Tsukematsukeru. SO GREAT.

She is so cute. Her backup dances are AMAZING and crazy energetic. I’m still so stoked that I was able to see her! I honestly thought I would never get to see her perform live.


I feel so lucky!

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