Posts by Sharlene

Reader. Book blogger. Parent. Eater of foods aplenty. Tea drinker. Crocheter

Library Loot (April 7 to 13)

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.

Happy Library Loot day!

Claire has the link-up this week.


If you may recall, I take part in these Instagram reading challenges (look up #readtheworld21) and this month’s region is Australia and New Zealand. So here is a book from an Australian woman writer. She’s based in the US but grew up in Sydney.

The Inland Sea – Madeleine Watts

A young Australian woman unable to find her footing in the world begins to break down when the emergencies she hears working as a 911 operator and the troubles within her own life gradually blur together, forcing her to grapple with how the past has shaped her present.

Drifting after her final year in college, a young writer begins working part-time as an emergency dispatch operator in Sydney. Over the course of an eight-hour shift, she is dropped into hundreds of crises, hearing only pieces of each. Callers report car accidents and violent spouses and homes caught up in flame.

The work becomes monotonous: answer, transfer, repeat. And yet the stress of listening to far-off disasters seeps into her personal life, and she begins walking home with keys in hand, ready to fight off men disappointed by what they find in neighboring bars. During her free time, she gets black-out drunk, hooks up with strangers, and navigates an affair with an ex-lover whose girlfriend is in their circle of friends.

Two centuries earlier, her great-great-great-great-grandfather—the British explorer John Oxley—traversed the wilderness of Australia in search of water. Oxley never found the inland sea, but the myth was taken up by other men, and over the years, search parties walked out into the desert, dying as they tried to find it.

Interweaving a woman’s self-destructive unraveling with the gradual worsening of the climate crisis, The Inland Sea is charged with unflinching insight into our age of anxiety. At a time when wildfires have swept an entire continent, this novel asks what refuge and comfort looks like in a constant state of emergency.

Not typically the kind of book I read, but I dunno, somehow my finger clicked the “borrow” button on Libby! Let’s see how this goes!

The Guest List – Lucy Foley

The bride ‧ The plus one ‧ The best man ‧ The wedding planner ‧ The bridesmaid ‧ The body

On an island off the coast of Ireland, guests gather to celebrate two people joining their lives together as one. The groom: handsome and charming, a rising television star. The bride: smart and ambitious, a magazine publisher. It’s a wedding for a magazine, or for a celebrity: the designer dress, the remote location, the luxe party favors, the boutique whiskey. The cell phone service may be spotty and the waves may be rough, but every detail has been expertly planned and will be expertly executed.

But perfection is for plans, and people are all too human. As the champagne is popped and the festivities begin, resentments and petty jealousies begin to mingle with the reminiscences and well wishes. The groomsmen begin the drinking game from their school days. The bridesmaid not-so-accidentally ruins her dress. The bride’s oldest (male) friend gives an uncomfortably caring toast.

And then someone turns up dead. Who didn’t wish the happy couple well? And perhaps more important, why?

It’s Monday (April 5, 2021)


Last week my older son turned 10! That seems so very old…




He loves burgers so I made him one!


Some bookish gifts for the 10yo




I always think that birthday cakes should be at least three layers 🙂

Also, the kids are on spring break this week so I have to figure out what to do with them….




The Absolute Book – Elizabeth Knox




Still on Shuggie Bain! Hopefully by next Monday I can say that I’m done…!

Eating and drinking:

Toast and tea for breakfast


Since the kids are on break, I’m going to try to get them to do some cooking with me. Not sure what to do yet but since they love to eat pasta, I’m sure they’d want to learn how to cook some kind of pasta.


Last week:

I read:


Banned Book Club – Kim Hyun Sook and Ko Hyung-Ju

Sour Heart – Jenny Zhang

Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome

I posted:

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

Library Loot (March 31 to April 6)

Places In Books I Wouldn’t Want to Live In #TopTenTuesday

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

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston


What is a funfetti cake? Pretty much a vanilla cake with sprinkles in it (in this case, I used candy quins which are disc-like sprinkles). What is a cupcake? Pretty much just a small cake with a mound of frosting on the top. 

And what is this book? Adorable. With a side of snarkiness and a hint of politics. Just that fun read that brightens up your day, just like these funfetti cupcakes I made for the 9yo’s (almost 10!) mini early birthday celebration with some friends. 

And just like a funfetti cupcake, it leaves you with a sugar high from how fun and cute a read this is. 

Just like a sweet treat, it’s not something you have all the time but in times like these, it’s the best remedy for a not so good, not so terrible day, or sometimes just random meh days in between. 

Library Loot (March 31 to April 6)


Library 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.

Happy Wednesday!

The very excellent library-related news is that the library is open! Right now only the main branch of the library is open, but hey, that’s the one that’s closest to me anyway.

So it was with excitement (and a bit of anxiety, as I always feel a bit anxious when heading indoors these days), that I went to the library on a Wednesday morning, just when they opened. The husband works from home and the kids were in remote learning – I usually have to keep an eye on them but I figured, a quick half hour or so would be ok, all for the love of books!

They’ve changed things, adding someone to man the front entrance to answer questions and probably make sure everyone is masked up etc. They’ve spaced out the machines, the holds section, pushed out some children’s books shelves so that the space isn’t so tight. There’s still no-contact pick-up for those who don’t want to venture inside.

But it was a lovely 15 minutes spent inside picking up my holds, talking to a librarian because I couldn’t find one of my holds (looks like it’s still in quarantine), then grabbing a few books for the kids off the new children’s books section.

Ok, so here’s what I got this week:


The Absolute Book – Elizabeth Knox

Taryn Cornick believes that the past–her sister’s violent death, and her own ill-conceived revenge–is behind her, and she can get on with her life. She has written a successful book about the things that threaten libraries: insects, damp, light, fire, carelessness and uncaring . . . but not all of the attention it brings her is good.

A policeman, Jacob Berger, questions her about a cold case. Then there are questions about a fire in the library at her grandparents’ house and an ancient scroll box known as the Firestarter, as well as threatening phone calls and a mysterious illness. Finally a shadowy young man named Shift appears, forcing Taryn and Jacob toward a reckoning felt in more than one world.

The Absolute Book is epic, action-packed fantasy in which hidden treasures are recovered, wicked things resurface, birds can talk, and dead sisters are a living force. It is a book of journeys and returns, from contemporary England to Auckland, New Zealand; from a magical fairyland to Purgatory. Above all, it is a declaration of love for stories and the ways in which they shape our worlds and create gods out of morals.

Banned Book Club – Kim Hyun Sook and Ko Hyung-Ju 

When Kim Hyun Sook started college in 1983 she was ready for her world to open up. After acing her exams and sort-of convincing her traditional mother that it was a good idea for a woman to go to college, she looked forward to soaking up the ideas of Western Literature far from the drudgery she was promised at her family’s restaurant. But literature class would prove to be just the start of a massive turning point, still focused on reading but with life-or-death stakes she never could have imagined.

This was during South Korea’s Fifth Republic, a military regime that entrenched its power through censorship, torture, and the murder of protestors. In this charged political climate, with Molotov cocktails flying and fellow students disappearing for hours and returning with bruises, Hyun Sook sought refuge in the comfort of books. When the handsome young editor of the school newspaper invited her to his reading group, she expected to pop into the cafeteria to talk about Moby Dick, Hamlet, and The Scarlet Letter. Instead she found herself hiding in a basement as the youngest member of an underground banned book club. And as Hyun Sook soon discovered, in a totalitarian regime, the delights of discovering great works of illicit literature are quickly overshadowed by fear and violence as the walls close in.

In BANNED BOOK CLUB, Hyun Sook shares a dramatic true story of political division, fear-mongering, anti-intellectualism, the death of democratic institutions, and the relentless rebellion of reading. 

The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water – Zen Cho

Zen Cho returns with a found family wuxia fantasy that combines the vibrancy of old school martial arts movies with characters drawn from the margins of history.

A bandit walks into a coffeehouse, and it all goes downhill from there. Guet Imm, a young votary of the Order of the Pure Moon, joins up with an eclectic group of thieves (whether they like it or not) in order to protect a sacred object, and finds herself in a far more complicated situation than she could have ever imagined.

Anna K: A Love Story – Jenny Lee

Every happy teenage girl is the same, while every unhappy teenage girl is miserable in her own special way.

Meet Anna K. At seventeen, she is at the top of Manhattan and Greenwich society (even if she prefers the company of her horses and Newfoundland dogs); she has the perfect (if perfectly boring) boyfriend, Alexander W.; and she has always made her Korean-American father proud (even if he can be a little controlling). Meanwhile, Anna’s brother, Steven, and his girlfriend, Lolly, are trying to weather a sexting scandal; Lolly’s little sister, Kimmie, is struggling to recalibrate to normal life after an injury derails her ice dancing career; and Steven’s best friend, Dustin, is madly (and one-sidedly) in love with Kimmie.

As her friends struggle with the pitfalls of ordinary teenage life, Anna always seems to be able to sail gracefully above it all. That is…until the night she meets Alexia “Count” Vronsky at Grand Central. A notorious playboy who has bounced around boarding schools and who lives for his own pleasure, Alexia is everything Anna is not. But he has never been in love until he meets Anna, and maybe she hasn’t, either. As Alexia and Anna are pulled irresistibly together, she has to decide how much of her life she is willing to let go for the chance to be with him. And when a shocking revelation threatens to shatter their relationship, she is forced to question if she has ever known herself at all.

Dazzlingly opulent and emotionally riveting, Anna K.: A Love Storyis a brilliant reimagining of Leo Tolstoy’s timeless love story, Anna Karenina―but above all, it is a novel about the dizzying, glorious, heart-stopping experience of first love and first heartbreak.

The kids’ loot:

What did you get from your library this week?

Places In Books I Wouldn’t Want to Live In #TopTenTuesday

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is:

Places In Books I’d Love to Live

I wasn’t really feeling this topic (I imagine I would give answers that everyone else would have. Rivendell? New Zealand? Narnia?). So I decided to turn it upside down and go with….

Places In Books I Wouldn’t Want to Live In

Panem (The Hunger Games). Being made to watch death matches aren’t my thing, no thanks.

Mordor (Lord of the Rings). Orcs and giant spiders and that creepy eye always staring at you. I’ll pass.

The alternate timeline world of 1984 (1984). Big Brother is always watching.

The world of Fahrenheit 451. No books!! Sadness…

The America of Vox by Christina Dalcher. Women get an electric shock once they exceed 100 words a day! Also, once again, no books.

Similarly, the America of The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.  Whether as a handmaid, aunt, or a wife. It all sounds horrible.

Hill House (The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson). Ugh, creepy.

The California of Gold Fame Citrus by Claire Watkins. I feel like we’re already heading there, since we have once again had a very dry winter. So I definitely hope this isn’t out real future.

The society in Blindness by Jose Saramago. It was published in 1995 and it looks like I read it in 2007.

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018.

It’s Monday (March 29, 2021)

Happy Monday!


How was your weekend?

We did quite a few things last weekend. Played tennis, the kids went biking with friends while the husband and I walked.


It was hot though!


A friend gave us some avocados so we’ve been having a lots of avocados. I cooked some cold soba and also these tempura prawns are from the freezer section at Costco.


I made funfetti cupcakes for a small birthday celebration for the almost 10-year-old with some friends.


We also had his favourite takeout – burgers! This one is mine. Full of spinach, alfalfa sprouts, spring mix, roasted red peppers. There’s also beef in there somewhere 😛


And we tried a new eatery. We had (from top right) beef rolls (it’s rolled in a green onion pancake), green onion pancake, stirfried green beans, spicy beef soup (I hadn’t poured in the spicy soup yet, and ooh it was Spicy!), zhajiangmian, xiaolongbao.



Love is for Losers – Wibke Brueggemann


Haven’t quite settled on something new to watch yet!


Still listening to Shuggie Bain. It’s really good, though it’s taking me a while to get through it! I especially appreciate all the accents the narrator uses.

Eating and drinking:

I had toast with peanut butter for breakfast. Also my usual tea with milk.


I’ll probably make something (or maybe we will buy something?) for the birthday boy’s actual day this week.

Other things to cook…maybe some hamachi kama or grilled yellowtail cheeks. I’ll serve it with rice and some vegetables. Or maybe vegetable soup.

Last week:

I read:


To Have and to Hoax – Martha Waters

Chlorine Sky – Mahogany L. Browne

The Resisters – Gish Jen

Red, White & Royal Blue – Casey McQuiston

I posted:

Library Loot (March 24 to 30)

Funny Book Titles #TopTenTuesday

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

Library Loot (March 24 to 30)

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.

Happy Wednesday! How’s your week been? A mix of random books for me this week. And all with such great covers!

Claire has the link-up this week.


Not sure why I picked this one up, but that’s a fun cover!

Love is for Losers – Wibke Brueggemann

In this wry and hilarious queer romantic comedy, fifteen-year-old Phoebe realizes that falling in love is maybe not just for losers.

Did you know you can marry yourself? How strange / brilliant is that?

Fifteen-year-old Phoebe thinks falling in love is vile and degrading, and vows never to do it. Then, due to circumstances not entirely in her control, she finds herself volunteering at a local thrift shop. There she meets Emma . . . who might unwittingly upend her whole theory on life.

This is a laugh-out-loud exploration of sexuality, family, female friendship, grief, and community. With the heart and hilarity of Netflix’s critically-acclaimed Sex Education, Wibke Brueggemann’s sex positive debut is required reading for Generation Z teens. Think of this as Bridget Jones’ Diary, if it were written by Bridget’s daughter.

I borrowed this for the Back to the Classics challenge. My sister actually had this series but I somehow never read it!

Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome

The Walker children – also known as Captain John, Mate Susan, Able-Seaman Titty, and Ship’s Boy Roger – set sail on the Swallow and head for Wild Cat Island. There they camp under open skies, swim in clear water and go fishing for their dinner. But their days are disturbed by the Blackett sisters, the fierce Amazon pirates. The Swallows and Amazons decide to battle it out, and so begins a summer of unforgettable discoveries and incredible adventures.


While I love Indian food, I’ve never really cooked it. This one looks like a fun read. And I can’t remember offhand which reading challenge this is for, but one of them asked for a food memoir by a POC writer.

Indian-Ish – Priya Krishna

A witty and irresistible celebration of one very cool and boundary-breaking mom’s “Indian-ish” cooking—with accessible and innovative Indian-American recipes

Indian food is everyday food! This colorful, lively book is food writer Priya Krishna’s loving tribute to her mom’s “Indian-ish” cooking—a trove of one-of-a-kind Indian-American hybrids that are easy to make, clever, practical, and packed with flavor. Think Roti Pizza, Tomato Rice with Crispy Cheddar, Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Green Pea Chutney, and Malaysian Ramen.

Priya’s mom, Ritu, taught herself to cook after moving to the U.S. while also working as a software programmer—her unique creations merging the Indian flavors of her childhood with her global travels and inspiration from cooking shows as well as her kids’ requests for American favorites like spaghetti and PB&Js. The results are approachable and unfailingly delightful, like spiced, yogurt-filled sandwiches crusted with curry leaves, or “Indian Gatorade” (a thirst-quenching salty-sweet limeade)—including plenty of simple dinners you can whip up in minutes at the end of a long work day.

Throughout, Priya’s funny and relatable stories—punctuated with candid portraits and original illustrations by acclaimed Desi pop artist Maria Qamar (also known as Hatecopy)—will bring you up close and personal with the Krishna family and its many quirks.



Sour Heart – Jenny Zhang

A fresh new voice emerges with the arrival of Sour Heart, establishing Jenny Zhang as a frank and subversive interpreter of the immigrant experience in America. In this debut collection, she conjures the disturbing and often hilarious experience of adolescence through the eyes of Chinese American girls growing up in New York City. Her stories cut across generations and continents, moving from the fraught halls of a public school in Flushing, Queens, to the tumultuous streets of Shanghai, China, during the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s. In the absence of grown-ups, latchkey kids experiment on each other until one day the experiments turn violent; an overbearing mother abandons her artistic aspirations to come to America but relives her glory days through karaoke; and a shy loner struggles to master English so she can speak to God.

Narrated by the daughters of Chinese immigrants who fled imperiled lives as artists back home only to struggle to stay afloat — dumpster diving for food and scamming Atlantic City casino buses to make a buck — these seven stories showcase Zhang’s compassion and moral courage, and a perverse sense of humor reminiscent of Portnoy’s Complaint. A darkly funny and intimate rendering of girlhood, Sour Heart examines what it means to belong to a family, to find your home, leave it, reject it, and return again.



What did you get from your library this week?

Funny Book Titles #TopTenTuesday

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is:

Funny Book Titles

Oh boy, I wish I were making some of these up, but I really am not… Also I had to add in full screenshots of the book covers instead of a collage as some of them are…precious!

Screenshot 2021-03-16 at 9.10.35 AM

Manifold Destiny: The One! The Only! Guide to Cooking on Your Car Engine! – Chris Maynard & Bill Scheller

Screenshot 2021-03-16 at 9.11.27 AM

Toilet Paper Origami: Delight Your Guests with Fancy Folds and Simple Surface Embellishments – Linda Wright

Screenshot 2021-03-16 at 9.08.02 AM

How to Avoid Matrimony: The Layman’s Guide to The Laywoman – Herald Froy

Screenshot 2021-03-16 at 9.14.13 AM

What Not to Wear on a Horse  – Ginny Oakley and Stephanie Soskin

Screenshot 2021-03-16 at 9.12.35 AM

The Pop-Up Book of Phobias – Gary Greenberg

Screenshot 2021-03-16 at 10.45.48 AM

The Humanure Handbook: A Guide to Composting Human Manure – Joseph Jenkins

Screenshot 2021-03-16 at 9.34.15 AM

How to Live with an Idiot: Clueless Creatures and the People Who Love Them – John J. Hoover

(I feel sad for the family member who discovers this book stashed away)

Screenshot 2021-03-16 at 9.40.05 AM

Impeccable Birdfeeding: How to Discourage Scuffling, Hull-Dropping, Seed-Throwing, Unmentionable Nuisances and Vulgar Chatter at Your Birdfeeder – Bill Adler Jr.

Screenshot 2021-03-16 at 9.35.06 AM

Liberace: Your Personal Fashion Consultant – Michael & Karan Feder

Screenshot 2021-03-16 at 9.36.32 AM

Deodorizing the Skunk by Surgery – Ray Singleton (bwahahaha, that skunk caption!)

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018.

It’s Monday (March 22, 2021)

It’s Monday again! How was your weekend?

Here’s some things we did last week (I didn’t take many pictures!)…


I made mushroom sudubu jigae (Korean tofu stew) for the first time! It was pretty yummy! I used shiitake and baby bella mushrooms but next time I’ll try it with enoki and bunashimeiji.


I always look forward to the first leaves on my maple tree! It’s definitely spring. Although we did have some rain last week – always lovely to have rain here in this parched state.




A Pho Love Story – Loan Le


I finally watched season 3 of The Umbrella Academy and it was glorious! Then that twist at the end!!! I also binge-watched Full Bloom on HBO Max, it’s a reality tv competition for florists! This was the first group challenge they had, to recreate a painting with flowers. Isn’t that incredible? I’ve never been a person who’s into flowers. I always remember my home economics teacher in Singapore had to take over when we did a lesson flower arrangement and I had no idea what I was doing. And it was absolutely incredible seeing all these amazing flowers that I’d never heard of before. And I like that it was a heartwarming show, more along like GBBO vibes than typical American reality TV competition (cut-throat, “I’m going to take you all down!” kind of attitude).


Shuggie Bain

Eating and drinking:

For breakfast, tea with milk, homemade sourdough toast, and a scone.


Pasta? Baked pasta?

Last week:

I read:

They Both Die at the End – Adam Silvera

The Magic Order Vol 1 – Mark Miller

Untold Night and Day – Bae Suah

I posted:

A blueberry pie that almost didn’t make it #WeekendCooking

Library Loot (March 17 to 23)

Books On My Spring 2021 TBR #TopTenTuesday

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

A blueberry pie that almost didn’t make it #WeekendCooking


I’m not sure why I was determined to make a pie for Pi Day. We never did anything for Pi Day before, although they do talk about it in school. For whatever reason, I had it in my head that I would make a blueberry pie.

In Singapore, there was a little local bakery that my mom would take us. I have no idea its name, but it was near the library, or at least that’s how it is in my memory. And they had blueberry pie. Which is unusual, as it’s not exactly a dessert that was common in Singapore at that time. I’m sure blueberries were really expensive then – and they still might be? Singapore imports a lot of fruits and vegetables as there’s little space for farming.

But somehow I remember that pie.

And I wanted to make one.

I found this recipe on Food52 by Rose Levy Bernabaum. I am a fan of Bernabaum’s Bread Bible, and have loved everything I’ve made in that book, especially the scones, which are my go-to scone recipe. I always double that recipe so I have extra to store in the freezer.

The one thing I wasn’t so sure was the measurements. The recipe used cups which personally I detest. I feel like baking recipes should always provide weights which are far more accurate than cups. And usually, I would stay far away from a cups-only recipe. But this one sounded really good. The filling isn’t baked, just 1/4 of the berries are cooked, then the rest are mixed together with the syrupy cooked ones.

Well, unfortunately, somehow I got myself tripped up on the measurements and ended up using twice the amount of butter! I only realised it the next day when I put it into the oven to bake and the pastry started melting! Sigh…

I scraped it into the compost bin after it cooled and started over. But I didn’t have the time to work on the same dough so I just quickly went with this one by Smitten Kitchen. I let it rest for a while in the fridge, not as long as I wanted to, and then rolled it out and baked it. The dough shrank in some parts. Sadness.

It may be because of my glass pie dish. I have since ordered a metal dish so I’m hoping that will see some improvement?

The blueberries though were simple and delicious. A quarter of them are cooked in water, then some cornstarch solution and sugar are added. Then it’s mixed with the rest of the blueberries. Once the pie crust has cooled a few minutes, just pour in the blueberries. They need to set for at least two hours. I loved how the blueberries were mostly intact and they were juicy and plump. Although my dough didn’t look great, it was still tasty.

My 7yo, who’s probably my harshest critic who refused to eat the mixed berry muffins we made last week, declared it delicious and ate it again for breakfast the next day.

Weekend Cooking was started by Beth Fish Reads and is now hosted by The Intrepid Reader and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, beer, wine, photographs