Top Reads of 2019: Cuddle’s Favourite Books of 2019

Top Reads of the Year: Cuddle's Favourite Books of 2019. Illustration: Cuddle the otter, wearing a pajama hat, holding a stack of sparkling books with Party the stuffed otter in her arm.

Cuddle the otter, walking and holding tupperware in one arm and Party in the other.The mist wafting through the air surrounding the Pond was light and breezy on this cool winter’s evening. Cuddle clutched Party under one arm, and carried a few Blubberware containers full of homemade food in the other towards the Pond.

“I really hope everyone likes the food I’ve brought for the Pondluck dinner party tonight!” Cuddle worried, “maybe I didn’t put enough sauce in the mushrooms, or enough water in the rice.” Party seemed to squirm a little as Cuddle tightened her squeeze anxiously.

Setting the silverware out neatly and a long picnic blanket down by the edge of the water, Cuddle thought about the books she was going to talk about at the book club/Pondluck dinner party get together tonight. It was their year end gathering, and everyone is going to talk about their favorite books and eat good food that each of them made and brought. She smiled as she remembered some of the titles she’d read including a Pride and Prejudice retelling and a great book about a girl working at her grandma’s diner.

Cuddle the Otter, hugging Party the Otter Plushie against her cheek, with a content smile. The Pond’s inhabitants waddled, flew, and traipsed in, greeting and embracing one another after asking permission. As she looked at her Pond family: Gen with a festive “ringing in the new year” hat instead of his usual, Varian being their best naked frog, and Sprout looking cute and dapper as always, and more filing in, Cuddle thought about the warmth in her heart and gave Party a tight snuggle, feeling a small snuggle back.

How nice it was to have a welcoming and safe home, with accepting, loving, and caring Pond family members. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d felt this content, as she blinked back tears of joy at finding a place where she truly belonged.

To be totally honest, 2019 was not a great reading year for me in terms of quantity. Adjusting to having a baby in late 2019, along with managing her medical care for her diagnoses and my own postpartum mental health has been an arduous task, and reading unfortunately fell by the wayside. I didn’t log a lot of the books I did finish, and I don’t have any clue how many books I read but if I had to guess, it would probably be around 30-40. This is a far cry from the 120-150 I have been reading in the past few years.

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Book Recommendations: Spooky Reads for Halloween!

Book recommendations with varian: spooky halloween reads. illustration of varian wearing a unicorn costume.

Happy Halloween week, dear friends! Whether you celebrate Halloween or if it’s just another day for you, I think we can all agree that Halloween is the perfect excuse to recommend some spooky books! Now, if you ask Varian ‘trick or treat!’, they will definitely treat you to a book recommendation! Though it isn’t quite Halloween yet (or, Pond-o-ween here at the Pond), Varian thought they would recommend some books for you to read on the day to get you in the spooky spirit.

Varian is wearing their Halloween costume (a unicorn!) a little early, but that’s not why today’s book recommendation post is a little special. In today’s book recommendation post, Varian won’t be recommending books alone. Varian has recruited Sprout and Cuddle to recommend two books for you all to read during Halloween! Read More »

The Bride Test by Helen Hoang – I cried. I laughed. I will definitely re-read.

Text: The Bride Test, a novel, Helen Hoang. Image: An illustration of a woman holding a pencil, completing pencils.

One evening around dinner time at the Pond, Xiaolong smelled a rich, delectable aroma of something slightly tangy and warm.

“Mmm,” she mused, “I wonder what’s cooking. It sure smells great!”

Cuddle the otter, wearing a pajama cap, is holding a ladle with a pot of orange-coloured soup in front of her.She wandered in the direction of the scent to find Cuddle huddled over the fire with a ladle in her paw, stirring what looked to be an orange colored soup filled with noodles, sprouts, and various meats. The steam wafted up from the pot towards Cuddle’s face as Party sat peacefully on a log behind her, awaiting dinner.

“Oh, hi, Xiaolong, come over here! I looked up the recipe for an authentic Bún bò Huế. After I read THE BRIDE TEST, I couldn’t stop thinking about this soup. I had all this fish sauce saved up and reading that scene where Esme used it in her recipe made me want to try to make it myself. Taste it. I hope it’s good!” Cuddle shifted nervously from side to side.

“We just had fish snacks the other day, remember? I loved them!” said Xiaolong.

“No, Silly, fish sauce! Not fish snacks!” giggled Cuddle.

Party the stuffed otter, sitting up right with a bowl of soup in front of her.She scooped Bún bò Huế into three bowls: two big and one small, added lime slices, and carried them carefully over to a tree stump by the log where Party was perched.

“Speaking of THE BRIDE TEST, I loved it so much. Let me tell you more…”

Blurb:

Khai Diep has no feelings. Well, he feels irritation when people move his things or contentment when ledgers balance down to the penny, but not big, important emotions—like grief. And love. He thinks he’s defective. His family knows better—that his autism means he just processes emotions differently. When he steadfastly avoids relationships, his mother takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him the perfect bride.

As a mixed-race girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Esme Tran has always felt out of place. When the opportunity arises to come to America and meet a potential husband, she can’t turn it down, thinking this could be the break her family needs. Seducing Khai, however, doesn’t go as planned. Esme’s lessons in love seem to be working…but only on herself. She’s hopelessly smitten with a man who’s convinced he can never return her affection.

With Esme’s time in the United States dwindling, Khai is forced to understand he’s been wrong all along. And there’s more than one way to love.

Joce’s Review:

THE BRIDE TEST opens in Ho Chi Minh City, where Khai Diep’s mother, Cô Nga, takes Trấn Ngọc Mỹ, or Esme, by surprise, and propositions her with the opportunity to move to the Bay Area of California to date her son, in hopes of them one day marrying. Esme is not well off and lives in poverty, so with the hopes of securing a better life for herself and her daughter, she agrees and moves in with Khai, attempting to seduce him. Their story is romantic, exploratory, and well-rounded.

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