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. 

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

Library Loot December 5 to 11

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.

I’m so thrilled to let you all know that I’m the new co-host for Library Loot! The lovely Claire from The Captive Reader has been helming it for a while now and I’m really excited to be t. I’ll be hosting next week, so please see her post for the details!

Also, hello! Hello to you new readers and subscribers, thanks for popping over here to check out my blog. A little bit about me – I love libraries and visit our local library with my two boys (ages 5 and 7) every week. We borrow lots of books – chapter books for the 7yo, beginning readers and picture books for the 5yo. As a result, my tote bags are full of kids books and my shoulders are aching. So pretty much all the library books I get for myself these days are ebooks via the Libby app!

Meanwhile, here’s what I got from the library this week.

The Cloud Roads – Martha Wells

I’ve heard of Wells’ Murderbot series and that’s on my tbr list but when I saw the cover of this one, I just wanted to start with this.

Moon has spent his life hiding what he is — a shape-shifter able to transform himself into a winged creature of flight. An orphan with only vague memories of his own kind, Moon tries to fit in among the tribes of his river valley, with mixed success. Just as Moon is once again cast out by his adopted tribe, he discovers a shape-shifter like himself… someone who seems to know exactly what he is, who promises that Moon will be welcomed into his community. What this stranger doesn’t tell Moon is that his presence will tip the balance of power… that his extraordinary lineage is crucial to the colony’s survival… and that his people face extinction at the hands of the dreaded Fell! Now Moon must overcome a lifetime of conditioning in order to save himself… and his newfound kin.

A Princess in Theory  – Alyssa Cole

Reading romance novels is quite a new thing for me. I had long turned my nose up at them, but I’ve since found some really smart writing, great characters, and fun reads. I enjoyed Cole’s An Extraordinary Union and was curious about this one.

Between grad school and multiple jobs, Naledi Smith doesn’t have time for fairy tales…or patience for the constant e-mails claiming she’s betrothed to an African prince. Sure. Right. Delete! As a former foster kid, she’s learned that the only things she can depend on are herself and the scientific method, and a silly e-mail won’t convince her otherwise.

Prince Thabiso is the sole heir to the throne of Thesolo, shouldering the hopes of his parents and his people. At the top of their list? His marriage. Ever dutiful, he tracks down his missing betrothed. When Naledi mistakes the prince for a pauper, Thabiso can’t resist the chance to experience life—and love—without the burden of his crown.

The chemistry between them is instant and irresistible, and flirty friendship quickly evolves into passionate nights. But when the truth is revealed, can a princess in theory become a princess ever after?



Some holds came in for me just this morning!

Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows – Balli Kaur Jaswal

I’ve enjoyed Jaswal’s other stories like Sugarbread and Inheritance, both which are set in Singapore. So I’ve been looking forward to reading her latest.

Nikki lives in cosmopolitan West London, where she tends bar at the local pub. The daughter of Indian immigrants, she’s spent most of her twenty-odd years distancing herself from the traditional Sikh community of her childhood, preferring a more independent (that is, Western) life. When her father’s death leaves the family financially strapped, Nikki, a law school dropout, impulsively takes a job teaching a “creative writing” course at the community center in the beating heart of London’s close-knit Punjabi community.

Because of a miscommunication, the proper Sikh widows who show up are expecting to learn basic English literacy, not the art of short-story writing. When one of the widows finds a book of sexy stories in English and shares it with the class, Nikki realizes that beneath their white dupattas, her students have a wealth of fantasies and memories. Eager to liberate these modest women, she teaches them how to express their untold stories, unleashing creativity of the most unexpected—and exciting—kind.

As more women are drawn to the class, Nikki warns her students to keep their work secret from the Brotherhood, a group of highly conservative young men who have appointed themselves the community’s “moral police.” But when the widows’ gossip offers shocking insights into the death of a young wife—a modern woman like Nikki—and some of the class erotica is shared among friends, it sparks a scandal that threatens them all.


Normal People – Sally Rooney

Silly me, I had started this book a few months ago, then somehow my library ebook was due and I didn’t realize that, and of course it disappeared from my Libby app! I know you can do that Airplane Mode thing, but well, I just forgot. Surprisingly there was quite a bit of a wait on this book so I only just got my grubby hands back on it this week.


Connell and Marianne both grow up in the same town in rural Ireland. The similarities end there; they are from very different worlds. But they both get places to study at university in Dublin, and a connection that has grown between them despite the social tangle of school lasts long into the following years.

Sally Rooney’s second novel is a deeply political novel, just as it’s also a novel about love. It’s about how difficult it is to speak to what you feel and how difficult it is to change. It’s wry and seductive; perceptive and bold. It will make you cry and you will know yourself through it.

Books from previous weeks


I’m still listening – and enjoying – this audiobook

And I’m also working on Stay With Me

What did you get from your library this week?

#AMonthOfFaves – Books worth the hype (and not)



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

WED. | Dec. 5 – #AMonthofFaves Popular Books Worth the Hype (and/or Not Worth the Hype)

I’m not exactly one who reads bestsellers and hyped books, at least I don’t think so. I am never quite sure what ‘hype’ means with books. Does it mean those lists of “most anticipated releases” that get published every so often? Or does it mean that I see it appear on the blogs and Instagrammers that I follow?

I was looking at my Goodreads ‘read’ list for the year and started noticing the number of ratings that each book had. There were the rare ones, like Wonder, that numbered in the 500,000s. And we don’t need to talk about the Harry Potter books which are in the sky high 5 million plus! But anything in the six figures were definitely popular books like Turtles All The Way Down by John Green and Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer. In contrast, an excellent book like Mishell Baker’s The Impostor Syndrome only has 445! (Note to self, always put a rating in Goodreads, especially for books like this)

But if I were only to count those in the six figures, I wouldn’t have read many. So instead I decided to go for those books with more than 25,000 ratings. There were some that I read, not that many, but some that surprised me as I had expected more ratings for them, as, to me, they were ‘hyped’. For instance, it felt that I keep seeing the Jackaby series by William Ritter, but surprisingly, just 18,663 ratings, so that means I can’t quite call it ‘hyped’, can I?

Ok, grumblings aside, here are….

Books read in 2018 that were worth the hype!

The Last Black Unicorn – Tiffany Haddish (26,535 ratings)

I listened to the audiobook and it was a lot of fun.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman (254,854 ratings)

Eleanor is such an awkward but endearing character, you can’t help but root for her.

Born A Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood – Trevor Noah (161,674 ratings)

I don’t watch late night TV but I was interested in Noah’s story of growing up in South Africa and it definitely was a fascinating read. His mother was quite a force to be reckoned with! Unfortunately my library didn’t have an audiobook version but I’m sure it would make for a great listen.

Pachinko – Min Jin Lee (80,172 ratings)

Loved this intergenerational saga that begins in Korea and ends in Japan. Such details and lovely writing!

Agnes Grey – Anne Brontë (43,705 ratings)

For a classic, that’s not a huge number of ratings actually. But I really was surprised to find myself liking this short (251 pages) story based on Brontë’s own experience as a governess.

I’ll Be Gone In the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer – Michelle McNamara (56,806 ratings)

Oh man this book, just thinking about it gives me the chills. An absolutely terrifying, well-written true crime book.



Books read in 2018 that weren’t worth the hype

I don’t think there were really books that made me go “Ugh not worth it!”. So just a couple that made me think that maybe it’s more like, “eh, not for me”. Maybe these books are just more for someone else.

The Cuckoo’s Calling – JK Rowling (400,033 ratings)

A decent enough read, but I haven’t been hooked enough yet to start on the next book in the series…

The Immortalists – Chloe Benjamin (58,632 ratings)

It was an intriguing premise but for me, I kept wanting more of the stories of two of the siblings and wasn’t so interested in the others.


Books read in 2018 that I wish had far more hype

I know it’s not mentioned in the prompt but there are so many great books out there that don’t have enough hype.

Everything Here is Beautiful – Mira T Lee (6,634 ratings)

Lee has written an absolutely gorgeous book about two Chinese-American sisters, of mental illness, of immigrants. Read it! Read it!

The Arcadia Project series – Mishell Baker

This urban fantasy series begins with Borderline (3,322 ratings), goes onto Phantom Pains (1,082 ratings), and ends with Impostor Syndrome (447 ratings). Baker creates great settings and very memorable characters – her lead is a double amputee with Borderline Personality Disorder!

Forty Rooms – Olga Grushin (1,060 ratings)

Such a beautiful book – a kind of collection of short stories taking place in different rooms that a woman has lived in over her lifetime.

Death by Dumpling (A Noodle Shop Mystery #1) – Vivien Chien (just 582 ratings)

This was such a cute and fun foodie cozy mystery series set in an Asian mall in Cleveland. I really appreciate the way Chien draws her protagonist, not as your typical successful Asian but instead somehow who’s not done so well – bad breakup, quit her job, moved back in with her parents.

What books lived (or not) up to hype for you this year?

Check out what books I thought were worth the hype (or not) in 2017


#AMonthofFaves – 2018 Favourites

I’m glad that  GirlxoxoTraveling with T and Estella’s Revenge have brought back A Month of Faves! It’s a fun way to look back at the year

MON. | Dec. 3 – #AMonthofFaves [The 2018 Favorites Edition]– e.g. to eat, drink, wear, smell, see, do, enjoy, best purchases, most used gift received, most used purchases, favorite concert, outdoor activity, place visited, most squee worthy moment of the year.

Some of my favourite things this year (not in order of importance, just in order of whatever pops into my head!)

My younger boy started kindergarten – that means both boys are in the same school! Yay! But kindergarten is just 3 hours long so that means he’s still with me for most of the day.

I got an Apple Watch. It wasn’t something I was really interested in at first, to be honest. I’d been doing fine without a watch of any sort (haha!) for a while. But I really like the fitness features of the watch. It amazingly can detect the strokes when swimming and yes it is indeed waterproof and even has a function to “dry” the watch or expel the water when you’re done swimming.

Our yearly Singapore trip was a lot of fun. And this time the husband and I got to go away for a few days on our own! We are of course thankful for grandparents who helped with the kids and allowed us to disappear to Phuket, Thailand, for a bit! It was a nice few days away from the kids, in a beautiful hotel that was by the beach, although it was monsoon season and the day we arrived it was storming and the waves were always huge. If you’re thinking of heading to Phuket one day, I would definitely highly recommend the beautiful Sala Hotel. It’s a Thai brand of boutique hotels and the staff were so welcoming, the rooms were beautiful, and the food, oh man, the food there was amazing, from the bountiful breakfast buffet (included in our room rate), and the fantastic dinners, whether Thai-style or western-style. You can read more about my trip here

We also drove up to the Oregon coast and it was so pretty and peaceful. We stayed at a house in the little town of Gold Beach and it was on the beach but really windy and chilly. The kids still played on the beach though!

Crocheting was something I started teaching myself last summer, I’ve become more ambitious and this year started making bags and I just finished my first sweater!

Health-wise, we’ve been quite a good year except for me catching pneumonia somehow.

And earlier in the year, we joined a gym. This one is a family gym, that is, the kids are members too and they can use the pool and facilities (not the actual gym itself as they’re under 12) like the tennis courts, indoor basketball court. The boys have been taking swim lessons and tennis lessons there. They have a great kids club too. My 7yo loves the room for the older kids as they have an xbox. He went mostly in summer. The 5yo loves the younger kids room (it’s from babies until the age of 6), where the staff are very caring and fun, and one of his good friends from kindergarten goes on weekdays too. And for myself, I’ve been enjoying the various exercise classes I’ve been taking like Zumba!

I’ve also been experimenting a bit with baking and trying out new recipes like Condensed Milk Bread, fougasse, chocolate digestives, and pizza buns