January was such a good reading month for me! I took full advantage of my full month of vacation and dedicated myself completely to reading, blogging, and watching movies. I’ve gotta say — it’s not a bad life at all!!!
This month, I managed to take part in two reading challenges, sign up for a year-round challenge, read 13 books (!!!), post consistently three times a week, and watch 17 movies. Aren’t you proud of me for being such a potato?
books I read
January was so good to me in terms of reading, I’m actually super surprised. This might actually be the month when I read the most amount of books — probably since I was in middle school!
(click the covers of the books to open them on Goodreads)
The White Moth by Camilla Calhoun 🌼 I picked up this nonfiction memoir at the beginning of the year and loved it so much. Camilla tells the story of her mother-in-law’s life (and her own) as an Italian woman who lived through Fascist Italy and World War Two. The way Calhoun writes is so tender and loving, it made my heart feel very warm.
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ // review
The War Blog by Glen Sobey 🌼 Right after picking Calhoun’s memoir up, I was extremely disappointed by Sobey’s young-adult novel. To say I found this whole novel to be very problematic would be an understatement. It follows a girl from a small town called Crystal as she tries to change the minds of the people around her about women’s bodies and rights. Which is a great premise — but such terrible execution…
Rating: ⭐️⭐️ // review
Chicken with Plums by Marjane Satrapi 🌼 I’m a huge lover of Satrapi’s work, so when I saw that my library had this book in stock, I sat down and read it in one sitting. While it’s not nearly as good as her Persepolis novels, it was still enjoyable. This one is a semi-fictional, semi-biographical episode from Satrapi’s life: the death of her great-uncle. It was totally worth the read.
Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Trans (but were afraid to ask) by Brynn Tannehill 🌼 I want to shout from the top of the hills that this amazing nonfiction book was my favorite read of January — and I’m sure it’ll make it to my favorite list of 2019! In it, Tannehill discusses what being a transgender is like in America today — through statistics, data, and some third-person accounts. It’s such a phenomenal read. Definitely pick it up if you want to learn more about trans experiences!!!
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ // review
The Far Field by Madhuri Vijay 🌼 Another awesome book I got to read this month was The Far Field. Set in India in the early- and then mid-2000s, this novel tells the story of a privileged woman named Shalini from Bangalore who travels to Kashmir, a troubled region in northern India. It explores belonging to a place, discrimination, ingenuity, privilege, childish innocence, and so much more. I highly recommend it!
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ // review
A Quick & Easy Guide to Queer and Trans Identities by Mady G. and J.R. Zuckerberg 🌼 Because I was in the mood to read a graphic novel, I picked up this review copy that explains in very simple terms what trans and queer identities boil down to. I loved the approach of simplifying these often daunting concepts but thought that, in the end, the writing failed to engage a clear target audience… But it was still a very entertaining (and important!) read nonetheless.
What the Wind Knows by Amy Harmon 🌼 This awesome historical fiction novel hasn’t come out yet but I can tell you that you should totally be looking out for it! Harmon’s novel is set in present-day and in 1920s Ireland at the cusp of a revolution. When her grandfather dies, Anne travels to Ireland to scatter his ashes. But what she doesn’t know is that she is in for a time-traveling adventure… I love historical fiction and I love Irish history, so it’s no surprise I adored this novel.
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ // review on Goodreads
Soviet Daughter by Julia Alekseyeva 🌼 Next, I picked up a library graphic novel simply because it had the word “Soviet” on the title. I’m unashamedly super interested in anything Russian, so I was thrilled to see this on the shelf! As it is a memoir, it tells the story of not only the author’s life, but also of her grandmother — the most important woman in Julia’s life. This old lady lived through so much (WWI, WWII, Ukranian genocide, you name it!). It’s such an endearing family tale.
Breakfast with Einstein by Chad Orzel 🌼 Since I had received a review copy, I decided to dive deep into this popular science book. If you’re interested in quantum physics, definitely pick it up when you can. In it, the author guides you through the world of the quanta to explain common phenomenon such as “how does my alarm clock know what time it is” and “why do the metal filaments in my toaster shine when they’re hot?” While it was a little too dense for me, I still would recommend it to science lovers.
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ // review
The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani 🌼 I went out on a whim and decided to pick up this middle-grade historical fiction novel, even though that’s a genre I don’t read much about. And I am so happy that I did! I loved every page of it. The story of Nisha is so heartbreaking and tender and sweet and innocent. When India splits into two countries, Nisha and her brother (half-Muslim, half-Hindu) are forced to leave their home behind and travel to the “new India.” You definitely have to read this one!
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (review to come)
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee 🌼 I buddy-read this with my friend Ayunda @ Ayunda Bhuana and I adored it so much! This novel is set in 20th century Korea and Japan (literally set throughout the whole century) and follows the story of the several members of this one family. I love novels like this, so of course, I also loved this one. We got to meet so many characters and setting and the writing was right up my alley. This is a great pick for any book club, really. Ayunda and I had a blast reading it together (even though I was naughty and jumped ahead — sorry!) and at the end of the book there are several questions you can use as prompts to start a discussion going at your book club!
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs 🌼 This was a book I’ve been meaning to read since 2014 and I finally got around to reading it! I checked it out from my library and decided to read it for the #24in48 challenge (more on that later). It was so whimsical and intriguing and had a really cool premise (even though the logistics made me confused at times…) I’ll definitely carry on reading the series!
The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang 🌼 To finish off the month, I picked up this adult fantasy novel inspired by the Sino-Japanese wars. I was delighted to see so much of the actual history being integrated into this novel, as well as an interesting magic system. I definitely think that I should not have read this book in a day (so many trigger warnings!) but it cured my craving for adult fiction for a while.
I am so excited to announce that I’m joining the Year of the Asian Reading Challenge! I’m always looking to diversify my readings, so this is a great opportunity to highlight Asian narratives.
This challenge is going on during the entirety of 2019 and it is hosted by the lovely Shealea @ Shut Up Shealea, CW @ The Quiet Pond, Vicky @ Vicky Who Reads, and Lily @ Sprinkles of Dreams. The goal is to read as many books by Asian authors as you can, and you can choose a badge to represent your self-appointed goal!
This year, I’m going to try and become the beautiful Malay tapir! To do so, I will have to read between 21 and 30 books. I hope I can do it!!! So far, I think I’m not doing bad at all, since I have read 5 books by Asian authors since the year has started.
Please root for me! But honestly, there are so many awesome books already out AND coming out written by Asian authors that I’m not really worried…
State of the ARC
This is the first time I’m doing this meme and I think that from now on I’ll always include it in my monthly recap posts. It’s such a good way to keep me on track to actually read and review all the titles I have pending on time. Yay for organization and holding yourself accountable!
Avalinah’s Books came up with this monthly meme to help bloggers stay on track of their advanced reader’s copies (ARCs). And so, at the end of each month, you count just how many ARCs you have that still need to be handled. They could be on time, already read but not have a review yet, or not even read at all!
Here is where I get my books from… As you can see, I mostly get them from NetGalley, as I have a better success rate over there.
ARCs from NetGalley: 15
ARCs from Edelweiss: 2
But how am I doing in terms of keeping up with them? To make things clear, I split this into three categories: 1) not due yet (this book doesn’t need to be read/reviewed in the next 15 days); 2) read but not reviewed; 3) overdue (I should have read/reviewed this book already, but haven’t — shame on me!)
Not due yet: 14
Read but not reviewed: 1
All things, considered, this is not bad at all! I did really well this month at catching up with ARCs (I read 8 in total!) but still my profile rating is still at 72%… But I can say that I am super excited to read all the review copies I have lined up.
All the ARCs on my “overdue” and “not due yet” shelves…
movies I watched
I know I watched a lot of movies — but in my defense, watching a movie under the covers with a warm drink is one of the best things in the world. By no means am I going to make this something regular, mainly because university has already started again for me…
(To see the movies on IMDB, just click the title of the movie; all reviews are out of 10)
Django Unchained (2012) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Great story, awesome acting, and a nice twist on the cowboy genre (7/10)
Quarantine (2008) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Interesting concept, definitely gross and scary, but a sort of really bad movie to the point where it’s enjoyable (5/10)
Children of the Corn (1984) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Such bad acting, weird soundtrack, and weird concept — but the concept is a classic and it wasn’t painful to watch (5/10)
Upgrade (2018) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Stunning camera work, innovative feel to a story that has been worked a lot before, and packed with action and emotion (10/10)
Coco (2017) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ So, so sweet and magical! Beautiful art, perfect soundtrack, and a great main character! (9/10)
Searching (2018) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ The way this is shot is so great and really keeps you at the edge of your seat. I loved the father-daughter relationship (10/10)
Downsizing (2017) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ The tiny world was so cute, but I kept expecting something very bad to happen… Still, I went into it with no expectations and liked it (7/10)
Spiderman: Homecoming (2017) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ I love Spiderman, especially played by Tom Holland. This was a blast (7/10)
Ant-Man (2015) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ I had never heard of this hero, but I love Marvel movies and this one didn’t disappoint (7/10)
The Godfather (1972) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ This one was a ride. I thought it was good, but not as good as everyone seems to be telling me it is… (8/10)
Captain America: Civil War (2016) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Yet another Marvel movie that was enjoyable and full of action. It’s good! (7/10)
Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ This was such a letdown from the first movie. So many new concepts were introduced with very sketchy explanations… (6/10)
12 Angry Men (1957) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ What a satisfying movie! I love how they played doubt and prejudice in the jury room — highly recommend this one! (9/10)
Boy Erased (2018) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Such an emotional movie. It was very slow and even painful to watch, but it has such a timely and important message (8/10)
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Mildred is such an awesome character and the movie was amazing, what else could I ask for? (9/10)
Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ This movie is the biggest superhero mess ever, so it was nice seeing where all the future Marvel events came from (the Sakovia accords, Vision…) (7/10)
A Star Is Born (2018) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Not going to lie, I thought this was a biographical movie, and so I ended up being a little disappointed. I think the beginning and end were very good, but the middle kind of weak (7/10)
Bohemian Rhapsody (2018) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ I have a soft spot for biographical pictures, so I was in for a treat with this one. I loved the music, the acting, and the storytelling (10/10)
Whiplash (2016) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ I rewatched one of my all-time favorites and I wasn’t disappointed. The character growth, the music, the relationships between characters — it all comes together to make the perfect Damien Chazelle movie (10/10)
National Treasure (2002) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ I had never watched this and I love-hate Nicholas Cage, okay??? I love that it all centers around American history, but oh my god the leaps of logic! (6/10)
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (2016) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ After having read the book, I really wanted to watch the movie — and so I did! This is such a mess and so much worse than the movies, ugh (5/10)
Scooby-Doo (2002) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ I know!!!! I did it for the meme, in all honesty… (7/10)