2019 Reading Challenges

I love starting reading challenges but I never finish them, except for those that run for just a few months in a year. Hoping for better accountability next year, so I’m putting them in a permanent post, whether it’s a blog or Litsy challenge. Here goes!

The Reading Women podcast #readingwomenchallenge (get the pdf here)

Mystery/Thriller by WOC
Woman w mental illness
Author fr Nigeria or NZ
About or set in Appalachia
Children’s book
Multi-gen family saga
Featuring a woman in science
Myth retelling
Woman athlete
YA Books by WOC
Lambda Literary Award winner
Translated book pub before 1945
A play
Written by South Asian author
By indigenous woman
From 2018 Reading Women Award shortlist
Romance or love story
About nature
Historical fiction
Book bought/borrowed in 2019
Book you got because of cover
Any book from a series
Book featuring a religion other than your own
Book by Jesmyn Ward
Book by Jhumpa Lahiri

#Booked2019 – a Litsy reading challenge

Female detective
Fairy tale retelling
Reminds you of your happy place
Related to a podcast
Set in Ireland or Irish author
new to you author
night-oriented title
Indigenous author
features a musician
social media focus
food or beverage on cover
Muslim author or MC
book to movie
book gifted to you
diverse middle grade
book about addiction
soldiers story
new in 2019
poc MC paranormal
public domain
political intrigue

The monthly motif reading challenge hosted by Girlxoxo

JANUARY – New to You Author

Read a book by an author whose writing you’ve never read before.

FEBRUARY – Cover Love

Yes. We’re giving you permission to judge a book by its cover and read a book with a cover that really caught your eye.

MARCH – Royalty, Kingdoms, Empires, Governments

Read a book in which the character is involved in a ruling or governing body in some way.

APRIL – Crack the Case

Read a mystery, detective story, true crime, cozy mystery, or book involving a puzzle to solve.

MAY – One Sitting Reads

Read something that is short enough you could get through it in one sitting- try a graphic novel, comic book, short story, essay, or short collection of poetry.

JUNE – Diversify Your Reading

Read a book with a character (or written by an author) of a race, religion, or sexual orientation other than your own or read about a culture you want to learn more about.

JULY – Through The Years

Read a book involving time travel, a book with a ‘time’ setting such as The Great Gatsby (20s), read a historical fiction/nonfiction, or choose a book published in your birth year.

AUGUST – Mode of Transportation

Read a book where the mode of transportation plays a role in the story (ex. Murder on the Orient Express or The Boys in the Boat)

SEPTEMBER – Animal, Number, Color, Name

One of those things needs to be in the title of the book you choose (ex. Water for Elephants, Red Queen, Fahrenheit 451, Rebecca, Harry Potter)

OCTOBER – Tricks and Trades

Read a book set in a theater, an amusement park, a circus, or a book involving magic, illusions, or characters with special powers.

NOVEMBER – Seasons, Elements, and Weather

Embrace a winter wonderland setting, pick a beach read, or read about a natural disaster. As long as a season, element, or the weather plays a key role in the story or is part of the title, it counts. (ex. Little Fires Everywhere, The Snow Child, On The Island)

DECEMBER – Last Chance

Finally read that one book that you’ve been meaning to get to all year long.

Back to the Classics hosted by Books and Chocolate

All books must have been written at least 50 years ago to qualify; therefore, books must have been published no later than 1969 for this challenge.

1. 19th Century Classic. Any classic book originally published between 1800 and 1899.
2. 20th Century Classic. Any classic book originally published between 1900 and 1969.
3. Classic by a Female Author.
4. Classic in Translation. 
5. Classic Comedy. 
6. Classic Tragedy.
7. Very Long Classic. 
8. Classic Novella. 
9. Classic From the Americas (includes the Caribbean).
10. Classic From Africa, Asia, or Oceania (includes Australia).
11. Classic From a Place You’ve Lived. 
12. Classic Play. 

#AMonthofFaves – Routines and Habits

A Month of Faves is hosted by GirlxoxoTraveling with T and Estella’s Revenge

WED. | Dec 12 – #AMonthofFaves Routines, Habits and Changes. What Worked this Year and/or What Didn’t. What habits, routines or rituals worked for you this year – either something you kept doing – or something new that you started. What did you try that didn’t work … or what did you used to do that no longer works for you.

Something new that I started this year – going to the gym.

I’ve lived in this city for about 8 years now and I’m disappointed to say that for such a long time my exercise has been about walking in parks or around our estate. Joining a gym has been something I’ve been looking at for a while, as I’ve been wanting to take up swimming again. The kids have been going for swim class but I wanted a place where they could go and swim just for fun, especially in summer. My city doesn’t have a proper public pool – it does have a small waterpark, but that’s open only in summer.

So we joined a gym that has a family membership, that is, the kids can take classes, use the swimming pool and there are also kids’ rooms (one for those below 6 and one for older kids) where I can drop them off if I want to take a class or use the gym. My 5yo goes to kindergarten in the afternoon so he usually goes to the kids’ room in the mornings on weekdays. Luckily one of his good friends from school goes too so he’s always bugging me to go, even last week when I was sick with a bad cough! He’s good motivation to go for my exercise classes! I take 2-3 Zumba classes a week. I’m also thinking of trying out a kickboxing class. And on the weekends, the whole family plays tennis.

So that’s probably the biggest change in routine for myself this year.

How about you? 

Library Loot December 12 to 18

badge-4Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Sharlene from Real Life Reading that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

Hello! And welcome to Library Loot!

As Claire mentioned last week, I’m the new co-host for Library Loot. If you’re new to my blog, hi there! Thanks for coming by! Hope you’ll have a look around.

A little bit about myself, I’ve been blogging for quite a while now, and I’ve been a fan of the library since I was a little girl. I’ve had library memberships in 3 different countries so far – Singapore (where I was born and grew up), the UK (where I did graduate school), and now in the US where I live. I have two boys, aged 5 and 7, and they love going to the library too!

Here’s my library loot this week:

I love cookbooks but I don’t love lugging them around when I already have two big tote bags full of kids’ books. So while I don’t really love e-cookbooks, sometimes they’re all I can manage. I’ve been wanting to check out Chrissy Teigen’s cookbook, and also, I am a big fan of Smitten Kitchen! I own her first cookbook and wanted to see what was in this one.

My hold for this book came in. This book won the Kirkus Prize for fiction and while I am not a fan of the cover, I am intrigued by the synopsis.

An offbeat office novel turns apocalyptic satire as a young woman transforms from orphan to worker bee to survivor

Candace Chen, a millennial drone self-sequestered in a Manhattan office tower, is devoted to routine. With the recent passing of her Chinese immigrant parents, she’s had her fill of uncertainty. She’s content just to carry on: She goes to work, troubleshoots the teen-targeted Gemstone Bible, watches movies in a Greenpoint basement with her boyfriend.

So Candace barely notices when a plague of biblical proportions sweeps New York. Then Shen Fever spreads. Families flee. Companies halt operations. The subways squeak to a halt. Her bosses enlist her as part of a dwindling skeleton crew with a big end-date payoff. Soon entirely alone, still unfevered, she photographs the eerie, abandoned city as the anonymous blogger NY Ghost.

Candace won’t be able to make it on her own forever, though. Enter a group of survivors, led by the power-hungry IT tech Bob. They’re traveling to a place called the Facility, where, Bob promises, they will have everything they need to start society anew. But Candace is carrying a secret she knows Bob will exploit. Should she escape from her rescuers?

A send-up and takedown of the rituals, routines, and missed opportunities of contemporary life, Ling Ma’s Severance is a moving family story, a quirky coming-of-adulthood tale, and a hilarious, deadpan satire. Most important, it’s a heartfelt tribute to the connections that drive us to do more than survive.  

Kids’ loot:

What did you get from your library this week?

Aquicorn Cove by Katie O’Neill #bookreview

Happy sigh. I adore the work of Katie O’Neill – she of the lovely Tea Dragon Society!

In this book, a young girl and her dad visit her aunt who lives on a small island that’s been hit by a storm. Lana discovers a baby aquicorn, a kind of seahorse-like creature and she nurses it back to health. It is a tale of loss and grief – Lana is learning to cope with the death of her mother. And also one of the environment – the underwater creatures’ homes are being destroyed by overfishing and pollution. And all accompanied by O’Neill’s gorgeous vibrant illustrations

It’s Monday

We had a busy weekend and I wrote a post about it earlier today. Meanwhile here is a photo to tempt you to go visit that post, if you haven’t already.




West Wing

Great British Bake Off Christmas edition!



That chocolate chip twist pastry thing above


Nespresso with milk.


Today, fish porridge for the 7yo who has a sore throat and is staying home from school


Still working on those hexagons for the piano cover. It’s coming together now.

Last week:

I read:

I posted:

#amonthoffaves – weekend things

#amonthoffaves – Blogger Love

Library Loot December 5 to 11

#AMonthOfFaves – Books worth the hype (and not)

#AMonthofFaves – 2018 Favourites


It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week. This meme started with J Kaye’s Blog   and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date

#amonthoffaves – weekend things

MON. Dec. 10 – A Day (or Weekend) in the Life. What did you do on Saturday, December 8th … or that weekend – December 8-9. Let’s take a peak into each others lives as as we chronicle what we all did on that day (or during the weekend).

Well now I seem to have forgotten to chronicle my weekend! So I’m scrambling to write up this post on Monday at 630am. So instead of what exactly I did during the weekend, here are some things that did happen.

Saturday morning swim class. The boys go for swim class every Saturday morning in an outdoor pool – don’t worry it’s heated. And it was such a beautiful day outdoors, especially compared to last week where it was drizzling and suddenly in the middle of class a heavy downpour began.

Saturday lunch at Jang Su Jang. My mom loves Korean food so that was her request for lunch. We had our favourites like seafood pancake, dumpling soup, bulgogi, acorn noodles, and clam soon tofu. Then a wander around the Paris Baguette, a bakery-cafe chain from Korea.

The husband and I went out for dinner without the kids! It was an early celebration of our tenth anniversary (which is later this month, when my mum’s leaving for Singapore). And he wanted to take me out to omakase, which I hadn’t had before. It was a tiny restaurant in Menlo Park called Kyosho. Very popular, very crowded, and the tables were a little bit small but the food was delicious, the service was nice and it was a great time out. Also I got to wear a new dress I had bought in Singapore!

Don’t laugh but after dinner we went to Target. I had forgotten about the 20% off coupon I had and it was expiring that night! So we bought some toiletries, some hand towels I wanted to replace our old ones, some Beyblades for the boys’ Christmas presents. I’m just glad Target closes late – all the stores in the Menlo Park downtown area were shut by 7! As someone from Asia, where shopping happens until late, that always surprises me.


Drove down to San Jose where the Mitsuwa supermarket is, it’s a big Japanese supermarket with a food court and a Kinokuniya (a bookstore chain from Japan). We ate at the Santouka ramen there, browsed at Kino, then bought some groceries from the supermarket. We were there specifically to buy the sliced beef for hotpot. The quality of the beef at the Japanese supermarket is quite a lot better than those at our local Chinese/Asian supermarkets and definitely worth the drive. Also decided to pick up a bottle of yuzu sake. I love yuzu so I wanted to try that.

The 7yo has been taking piano lessons for 2 years now and every so often the piano school holds a mini concert (plus a formal recital once a year), so this time it was the winter mini concert. And he did great!

However, in the evening, he started getting a sore throat, poor thing. Good thing that dinner was hot pot so it was nice and soupy and he managed to eat some.

And yes, hot pot! A simple easy way to have dinner, really. Just need to chop some vegetables (we used Napa cabbage), mushrooms, and make some stock. We have a two-side hotpot, so I made one vegetable stock with carrots, ginger and celery, and the other was a simple dashi commercially made, then a bit of miso for extra taste. And there was the sliced beef, fish balls and fish tofu from the Chinese supermarket, crabsticks, vegetables and mushrooms. And we ate it with rice.

How was your weekend?

#amonthoffaves – Blogger Love


A Month of Faves is hosted by  GirlxoxoTraveling with T and Estella’s Revenge

#AMonthofFaves [The Blogger Love Edition] – Recommend some bloggers and for us to check out and tell us what you like about each blog, e.g. bookish, food, fashion, travel, lifestyle, money, mom blogs, productivity etc. 

First of all, a shout out to the three hosts of A Month of Faves –  Tanya Patrice and Kim at GirlXOXO,  Tamara at Traveling with T and Andi at Estella’s Revenge for hosting this event!

Also some great blogs out there, in no particular order….

Reading the End 

The Captive Reader  (full disclosure: I’ve just started co-hosting Library Loot with her)

Buried in Print

746 Books

A Fantastical Librarian


Some food bloggers

Bake For Happy Kids

Cardamom and Tea

And also, I’ve started following some crochet bloggers

Attic 24

Look At What I Made 

Cherry Heart Blog

Repeat Crafter Me