It’s hard to believe that we were walking along these side streets of Stockholm a week ago today. I really liked the holiday lights on these small streets, each depicting a different design. They’re by far the most elegant lights I’ve seen in cities around the world.
Last week we spent a long weekend in Stockholm, which was fabulous and much warmer than back in Chicago. One of my favorite things about traveling abroad is seeing architecture I don’t get at home. And Stockholm didn’t disappoint at all. From the our hotel balcony, which was such a treat, even in the winter:
And near our hotel at dusk, which happened around 3pm.
These were also near our hotel:
We hung out at this Espresso House after dinner one night.
This one was also near our hotel, on the way to the tram stop.
These are right along the tram terminus.
A building spotted on the tram route.
The central train station:
I didn’t see a lot of Art Deco architecture, but this came the closest.
As did this one:
These buildings were in Gamla Stan, or Old Town, across one of the many bridges from the part of Stockholm where we stayed:
Gamla Stan was mostly made up of small alleyways.
We spent a lot of time on yet another island of the Stockholm archipelago. The Nordiska Museet, or Nordic Museum, was phenomenal.
This house is across the street from the Nordiska Museet reminds me of a lighthouse.
The styles of architecture are as diverse as Stockholm’s vibrant population. It’s part fairytale and part utilitarian, and we enjoyed it all.
Over the last decade or so, I’ve found myself spending the new year reading books about Hong Kong published by Blacksmith Books. But this year I’ve been catching up on my towering to-be-read pile and have read a couple of Blacksmith Books before the new year.
While Blacksmith Books usually publishes non-fiction titles, once in a while it comes out with a novel. The Tiger Hunters of Tai O is their latest novel–written by John Saeki–and I’m glad I hadn’t put it off any longer. The story is set in the 1950s in a sleepy outpost on Hong Kong’s Lantau Island. Eurasian police detective Simon Lee was banished to the Tai O station after getting involved with the socialite daughter the Hong Kong Police Commissioner.
The story opens with an execution-style murder on the beaches of Tai O. Simon Lee is the last person to speak to the deceased, a Chui Chow immigrant who was said to be a Communist spy. Or was he? Lee and his Sikh partner try to solve the mystery of what happened to the man on the beach.
The structure doesn’t just follow Lee’s point of view, but shows what happens to the different characters in the book through their perspectives. I really liked that Saeki gives the reader clues here and there, all while keeping us wondering what really happened on that beach.
Saeki brings the reader back to old Hong Kong, when the end of World War II was only a decade old and the Communist revolution was still new. His story also shows the dwindling power of the British colonizers and the rise of the Americans as the Cold War went into full force. It’s hard to tell which colonial power is worse–the British or the Americans.
The Tiger Hunters of Tai O reminds me to William Marshall’s Yellowthread Street mysteries, set in a fictional part of Hong Kong that also features a Eurasian police detective. The series was humorous and at times absurd in a fun way, and Saeki’s characters enjoy those traits, too, especially the band of ragamuffins involved in Hong Kong’s underworld. But what I like about Saeki’s book that’s different from Marshall’s is that the former is set in a real part of Hong Kong, while Marshall’s fictional Hong Bay doesn’t resonate for people who know Hong Kong.
The Tiger Hunters of Tai O is out on Amazon on February 7, 2018 and available for pre-ordering now.
This year was not what many people expected or hoped for, but I have to say professionally and personally it was quite amazing. I wish I could share some exciting book news, but that will come in time. For now, here are some highlights from the year.
The year kicked off with a mention of Good Chinese Wife on the Writers’ Digest Guide to Literary Agents Blog with their first post of 2017: 81 Damn Good Reasons to Read the Guide to Literary Agents Blog in 2017. My book was 4th on the list behind Veronica Roth, Erin Morgenstern, and Sabaa Tahir!
February ushered in the Year of the Rooster! I always buy US postage stamps that commemorate the Lunar New Year animal for the new year.
I took my little ones to New York in early March to visit their big brother. We walked by Allen Street on the Lower East Side, which borders Chinatown. My paternal grandfather was born at 20 Allen Street, which is a new, nondescript building. So the intersection of that corner seemed much more picturesque. I would make additional trips back to New York in April, June, and September this year.
We traveled to Arizona at the end of March and early April. It was great driving around the state, from Phoenix to Sedona to the Grand Canyon to Tucson. I also met with author Tiffany Hawk, who became a great friend this year. We traveled to Hong Kong several months later. More on that in August…
I reviewed Karen Fang’s spell-binding book, Arresting Cinema, for the LARB’s China Blog this month. It turned out to be my last review for the China Blog before it turned into the China Channel (for which my first review will come out in early 2018).
In June, we traveled back to Paris as soon as school got out. The summer was a hot one around the world and Paris was no exception. So we stopped at many outdoor cafes for a cold Badoit and just gazed around at the scenery around us.
In July, we traveled to Washington, DC, and one of our favorite stops was Ford Theater and the Petersen House. This photo was taken in the Petersen House, where Lincoln died, and this tower is made from books all written about Lincoln. It was very impressive!
Hong Kong! Need I say more? Tiffany Hawk and I met up there with her friend Kara, who I’m seeing this week in Chicago. We went for super secret book stuff and had a blast.
This month my memoir made the Spirited Woman Top Twelve Book Pick List for the Fall Equinox. It was such an honor to be named with these other amazing women writers.
Speaking of amazing women, I met Senator Tammy Duckworth in October and there couldn’t be a more inspirational politician in America today.
I got into bookbinding with my niece this year and took two classes, one this summer and one in November. This book uses coptic stitching and it was really fun to make.
In December my first articles were published in Cha: An Asian Literary Journal! It’s been a dream to write for them for a long time, and I was excited and so honored to have not one, but two film reviews in their “Writing Hong Kong” issue.
It’s been a travel-filled year and one I hope to replicate in 2018. I also hope to have more exciting writing news to share in the coming year.
A very happy and healthy new year to all!