5 amazing authors I’ve discovered in 2022

Hi everyone! Today I’m going to talk about some amazing authors that I discovered in 2022. I read books by these authors for the first time this year, I loved their work and I will keep track them on my radar. I decided to write this post after realizing that most of my favorite books of 2022 so far are written by authors that I hadn’t read before this year, and that reminded me why giving new-to-me authors a chance is always a good idea.

Without further ado, these are some authors that you should check out:

Elle Cosimano

I read Finlay Donovan is Killing it, in January of 2022 and I loved it, so as soon as the sequel came out, I read it and really enjoyed it too. Cosimano’s mysteries are over-the-top and they force you to suspend your disbelief, but they also have charming characters, they are full of humor and they are so entertaining. While the books she had published before this series don’t particularly appeal to me, I can’t wait to read the next book in the Finlay Donovan series and any other mystery books that Cosimano writes.

Mia P. Manansala

I read Mia’s debut novel, Arsenic and Adobo, at the beginning of the year and I really enjoyed it, so I read the sequel as soon as it came out. Manasala has a talent for writing fun and entertaining cozy mysteries, with over-the-top plots, captivating characters, complex relationships, small-town drama and gossip, and Filipino culture and food. The third book in this series is coming out later this year and I can’t wait to read it.

Elisabeth Thomas

As I have mentioned before, Catherine House is my favorite book that I have read in 2022 so far and I can’t believe it’s Elisabeth Thomas’s debut novel. I’m in awe of her ability to write such a captivating, unique and intriguing book. The weird plot, the complex characters and the ending of the book, all left me wanting to pick up Thomas’ next book.

Lana Harper

I enjoyed Payback’s a Witch so much that I’m tempted to read the books that Lana Harper has written under another pen name (Lana Popovic) even if there are YA, which I don’t really read anymore. I actually had one of her YA books, Blood Countess, on my most anticipated books list a few years ago, and while I never read it, it goes to show that her premises appeal to me. Payback’s a Witch has such an entertaining premise and it completely delivers on it, so I can’t wait to read the sequel.

Catherynne M. Valente

I have heard a lot about Catherynne M. Valente’s books throughout the years but I have never read one of her books, despite having Space Opera on my tbr for years. But after reading Comfort Me with Apples, I know I need to read more of her work because while I knew she had cool concepts, reading that novella proved to me that she can also execute them really well.

Have you read books by any of these authors? Do you have books by any of them on your tbr?

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2022 in Movies #3: The Handmaiden, Morbius and more

Hi everyone! I hope you all have been doing great lately. I decided that I’m going to stop apologizing for not posting consistently, feeling bad about it, and saying I’ll start doing it to then not actually do it. Instead I’ll post when I have the time, energy, and motivation to do it. With that in mind, I finally have my next 2022 in movies post ready, so let’s talk about the movies I watched recently.

Morbius (3 stars): I heard so many bad things about this movie that I went in with really low expectations and I don’t know if it’s because of that, but I didn’t think this was terrible. It was not a great movie by any stretch of the imagination but it was entertaining and the two lead performances by Jared Leto and Matt Smith were actually decent. My main complaints are that it felt like the female lead was nothing more than a love interest and that the ending was really abrupt, there wasn’t that much tension in the final confrontation and it was over rather quickly and easily.

Little Forest (3.5 stars): This was a character-driven story where not a lot happens, nonetheless, it managed to keep me engaged the entire time. It’s a contemplative movie that shows the main character going back home, leaving behind the things she thought she wanted (a job, relationship, and urban life), and finding the things that actually bring her peace and joy (old friends, hobbies, and rural living). Farming, harvesting, and cooking played an important role in the main character’s journey and are depicted with love and care. The performances of the entire cast, but particularly the protagonist Kim Tae-ri, were remarkable.

FILM CLUB PICKS

As I mentioned in my last post of 2022 in movies, I started a film club with my friends from college and it has become my favorite part of the week. We decided that we would have different cycles of 4 movies each and now we are in cycle 2 which is movies made in Asian countries by Asian filmmakers. So far, we watched a Korean film and a Thai film. Here are my thoughts on them:

The Handmaiden (5 stars): This is a masterpiece. I was absolutely captivated while watching it, the acting is impeccable, the plot riveting, and visually is a beautiful film. This is erotic, clever, disturbing, hopeful and so much more. The twists and turns of the story kept me engaging and at the edge of my seat, but I love that there are enough clues to figure out that something else is going on behind the deception that, as watchers, we are in on. And the reveals at the end are brilliant and satisfying. Also, the sapphic love story at the center of this film is one of the most wonderful and complex relationships I have seen depicted on screen.

The Scent of Green Papaya (3.5 stars): Not a lot happens in this film and not a lot is said, and by that I mean, there’s so much silence throughout the film. I finished watching this and I was a little confused, I didn’t really understand what this film was trying to do or say. It was a warm, tranquil film, with beautiful cinematography, but beyond that, I didn’t get it and my friends in the film club felt the same way. But once we started discussing it and theorizing, we found the main character’s way of looking at everything around her, her attention to detail, how caring she was of everything, her positive outlook on life, her humility, and the fact she felt equal to everything and everyone, her unity of self and world, were the central part of the story. By the end, we arrived at the conclusion that it is a film about everyday spirituality from an Eastern perspective, which is why it felt so different and it was hard for us to understand at first.

What was the best movie you watched recently? Have you watched any of the movies I mentioned?

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April 2022 Wrap Up: a very meh reading month

In this post, I’m going to talk about the books I read in April, but before that, I wanted to talk about blogging. Because I thought April was going to be the month I came back to blogging consistently but I have had so much work, which makes me feel tired all the time and so uninspired to blog, so posting consistently didn’t happen. Nonetheless, I’m hopeful that May is going to be a great blogging month for me because we finally hired someone to fill a position that has been vacant on my team at work and I’m hoping that is going to reduce my workload a lot and I’ll have the energy and motivation to start blogging more.

With that out of the way, I’ll share my thoughts on the books I read in April:

An Offer From a Gentleman by Julia Quinn (3 stars): this was ok, it was entertaining enough and a quick read but not too memorable. I didn’t dislike the characters, but I know Sophie is a lot of people’s favorite heroine in this series and I thought she was just fine. And Benedict was a little self-centered and spoiled but he was nice and caring sometimes too. I think my main problem with this is that, since it was a cinderella retelling, the relationship starts with instant attraction and connection and I didn’t feel like there was enough relationship development beyond that. Also, I feel like the power dynamics weren’t handled well enough at some points. I did like the ending, Mrs. Bridgerton was a great character in this book, I loved seeing glimpses of the other Bridgertons and I appreciated the way the storyline with the stepmother and stepsisters was wrapped up.

Romancing Mister Bridgerton by Julia Quinn (3.5-4 stars): I was really looking forward to this book but I was nervous because I kept hearing really mixed things about it. I’m happy to say that I ended up enjoying this. Penelope is a great character, my favorite so far in the series, and I loved her development in this book as well as the relationship she developed with Lady Danbury. Colin was a good character even if I had some issues with his jealousy and attitude at the end of the book. This does a good job of establishing the relationship between Colin and Penelope at the beginning as close acquaintances and then the transition to being friends. Their conversations and dynamics were amazing and seeing Colin realize how fantastic Penelope is was wonderful. My main issue is that the last part of the book dragged because it felt like the romance plotline was concluded but they still needed to reveal who Lady Whistledown was so the book kept going. Also, that last part was focused on Colin’s insecurities and jealousy and I didn’t find that interesting.

Below Zero by Ali Hazelwood (4 stars): This was good, a solid novella, but I think it’s my least favorite of this series. It was entertaining, a quick read, and it had some pretty good steamy scenes. I really liked Ian, I think he was swoony, I liked their relationships and while I didn’t love Hannah as a character, she was alright. I think the reason this is my least favorite is that I wish there was a bit more to the storyline of their past together.

Baptism of Fire by Andrzej Sapkowski (4 stars): This was a lot better than the previous book mainly because we saw a lot more of Geralt. I wish that didn’t mean that we basically didn’t see Yennefer and saw very little of Ciri (even tho I didn’t like her storyline in this book so I didn’t want more of it). This book is heavy on the political intrigue which I enjoy so I didn’t have a problem with it and I actually found it very entertaining, but I can see why some people may find this book boring. There’s not a lot of plot beyond getting people to where they need to be and other people making alliances. I did like the new characters that were introduced and the unlikely group that Geralt ends up traveling with, who are part of the main storyline in this book. The one thing that bothered me is the absurd amount of sexual violence against women that was included in this book, while I know sexual violence during a war is common, it felt almost gratuitous at times.

The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami (4 stars): This was a whimsical and nonsensical short story that was very well-written, really captivating, and fast-paced, in the sense that things kept happing in quick succession and there wasn’t much time to dwell on them. It had the sinister tone of old fairytales and the images that are included contributed to the oddness of the book. The theme or the point of the book is not entirely clear and I think it may need more than one reading to see it, but the ending gives a solid clue about the deeper meaning behind the story.

A Cruelty Special to Our Species by Emily Jungmin Yoon (4 stars): This was incredibly powerful. Emily Jungmin Yoon focuses mainly on the experiences of “comfort women”, which were Korean women forced into sexual slavery during the Japanese occupation of Korea in World War II. The poems related to this topic were the highlight of the collection, they were raw, impactful, and really hard to read at times. Also, there were some other good poems about Emily’s experience as a Korean-American woman. While most of the collection was fantastic, there were a few poems that didn’t work quite so well and some that even felt out of place in the collection. Nonetheless, this is a collection that I would recommend to anyone that enjoys poetry.

Vulnerable AF by Tarriona Ball (3 stars): This was ok. I actually ended up enjoying the short prose pieces much more than the poetry. Besides a couple of standout poems, the rest were just fine.

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson (3 stars): I didn’t enjoy this nearly as much as I enjoyed the other two books that I have read by this author. I wasn’t that interested in the beginning of this book when she talked about her childhood but once she gets to her college/ adult life I started to enjoy it a lot more. The fact that every story revolved one way or another around animals (dead or alive) was something that I didn’t love about this wither. But I appreciated the way she talked about mental health, miscarriages, relationships, and motherhood in such a frank and witty way. Nonetheless, I had issues with some of her jokes (about sexual assault, eating disorders, race) which crossed lines at certain points.

What are the best and worst books you read in April? Was April a good reading month for you?

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May 2022 TBR: so many books by Asian authors

I may have been a little overly ambitious with this tbr, but I couldn’t narrow it down any more than this. May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, so I put together an incredible tbr with books written by Asian authors that I already owned or that my library had available and that I can’t wait to read.

Before the Coffee Gets cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi: I have heard so many fantastic things about this book, it’s been on my tbr for so long and it’s relatively short, so I’m really excited to finally get to it.

Earthlings by Sayaka Murata: I read another book by this author (Convenience Store Woman) a few years ago and I thought it was really unique, so I’ve been interested in reading more from her and the cover and synopsis of this book caught my attention.

Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 by Cho Nam-Joo: This sounds amazing and I have heard great things from so many people, so I can’t wait to read it. I have a feeling that it’s going to be a heavier book than what I usually read but I think I’ll like it nonetheless.

If I Had Your Face by Frances Cha: I started this in March and I was really enjoying it but I ran out of time and I had to give it back to the library, but I’m getting it back soon and I’m looking forward to finishing it.

White Tears/Brown Scars by Ruby Hamad: One of my goals this year is to read more nonfiction and I have heard some great things about this one, so I’m excited to get to it.

The Burning God by R.F. Kuang: I have been avoiding this book for a year since I read the second book in this series, I’m really nervous to read it and I think it’s going to break my heart, but it’s time I finally get to it.

Our Violent Ends by Chloe Gong: I read the first book at the beginning of 2021 and I really enjoyed it, so I want to finish this series before I forget everything that happened in the first book.

A Sweet Mess by Jayce Lee: I needed some romance in this tbr because I’m in a big romance reading mood right now. I have heard some mixed things about this book but it sounds like a cute, low-angst story and I think I’ll enjoy it,

Kamilla Knows Best by Farah Heron: This is an Emma-inspired book and it sounds incredible. I read Accidentally Engaged by Farah Heron last year and it ended up being one of my favorite romances of 2021, so I’m excited to read more from her.

Home Body by Rupi Kaur: I have really enjoyed Rupi Kaur poetry collections in the past and I needed some shorter reads for this tbr and I think this is the perfect pick.

What are you planning to read for Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month? What are some of your favorite books by Asian and Pacific islander authors?
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Ranking all the kdramas I watch in March 2022

Hi everyone! This post is SO late and my posting schedule is a mess right now but between work and a couple trips I went on, it has been really hard to find time to blog. Honestly, it’s mainly because of my job, I’m so tired all the time because I have so much work to do. But I’ll try to be a better blogger and start posting regularly again. For now, I’m excited to write this post and share my thoughts on the 8 kdramas I watched in March.

1. Ghost Doctor (4 stars): The main strength of this drama is that it makes you feel really invested in all the characters, not only the two main ones, and their relationships. The acting in this was phenomenal. While this has a humorous tone, there were so many emotional storylines that moved me and kept me captivated the entire time. The concept of the ghost of a doctor possessing another doctor to save lives was really interesting and it was executed well: there were risks involved, embarrassing moments, bickering, laughter, painful moments and fights. I loved how angsty the main romance was and the way it ended, and I also liked the glimpses we got of the secondary romance, while I understand why there wasn’t further development with that romance, I was left hopeful but a bit disappointed. Nonetheless, the ending fit the story well.

2. Prison Playlist (4 stars): This drama tells the hard-hitting, powerful stories of different prison inmates while managing to have a hopeful tone, which doesn’t mean that every story ends well, there are a lot of bittersweet endings for different characters. But through it all, this drama shows people finding friendship, hope and human connections in a hard situation and with unexpected people. Also, there are actually a lot of funny scenes in this, the humor is really good. I honestly didn’t think that this would have me rooting so hard for people that have committed crimes and done bad things, but this makes you empathize without absolving the characters from their responsibility. The friendship between the two main characters, a prison guard and an inmate, was one of the highlights of this drama. There are so many fantastic side characters and the performance of the entire cast is amazing.

The main issue I had with this is the age difference between the main couple and the fact that the male lead knew the female lead since she was a little girl and he was a teenager. Also, I didn’t really like the way drug addiction was discussed and handled in this.

3. Tracer (4 stars): I didn’t think I was going to like this as much as I did, but I have discovered recently that I like unrealistic stories where someone who is very clever is executing a revenge plan and keeps outsmarting very powerful people. I loved the main group of characters in this, they feel so defeated and they had given up before the main character started working with them and helped them get back their motivation and integrity, I enjoyed seeing them working together to defeat the bad guys and it’s so satisfying even if it’s unrealistic to see them outmaneuver everyone. Also, a lot of the characters have complicated and sad backstories and that leads to some emotional storylines that add depth to this drama.

4. Lovestruck in the City (4 stars): Until the last episode, I couldn’t understand why so many people had issues with this series, but that ending wasn’t it. While it wasn’t terrible, the truth is that part of it was random and the other part didn’t fit the story. But for 90% of this, I actually really enjoyed it, I really like angsty second chance romances filled with mutual paining and this gave me everything I wanted. I think the story of the main couple was great and I liked how it evolved and how it was resolved. The storyline of the secondary romance ended abruptly and I know they were giving hints of that ending but I don’t think it was executed well, and the other (kind of) romance between the other two main characters was like an afterthought, there were only small glimpses of it and that ending was so unsatisfying. And then the final episode was about a random couple that wasn’t even really in the drama and their story didn’t go anywhere. Honestly, it was a really bad last episode.

5. My Name (4 stars): This was really good, the performance by the lead actress was fantastic and the performance of the villain was great too. This is a very good revenge story, it had twists that I didn’t see coming and excellent fight scenes. The evolution of the romances was a bit off, I wish they had shown us more scenes between the two characters alone because it felt like they just included the romance to have the ending they wanted. Nonetheless, I did like the scenes we got between the two characters and overall ended up enjoying the romance. The ending was devastating (even when I already knew what was going to happen) but it fit the story.

6. Lawless Lawyer (3.5 stars): The main characters have so much chemistry and their relationship was the highlight of this drama. Also, the performances of the lead actors as well as the rest of the cast were really good. This may be full of popular tropes and convenient things, but as I mentioned before when I talked about Tracer, I like unrealistic stories where someone who is very clever is executing a revenge plan and keeps outsmarting very powerful people and this drama delivered exactly that and it so entertaining will doing it.

7. The King: Eternal Monarch (3.5 stars): I watched this so quickly because I couldn’t stop watching, I was really intrigued by the story. Still, there were a couple episodes around the halfway point where it got slow, but it wasn’t too bad. I really liked the concept of parallel universes. The romance was ok, not a new favorite but there were some sweet moments. Overall, I liked the female lead, she was strong and capable, but there was a point where she was basically crying every episode and it got to be too much. I enjoyed the side characters, the actors did a great job with their roles and, in particular, there was an actor that played two characters and he played those two characters pretending to be each other, and he did such a good job, I was really surprised.

One of my main issues with this drama is that it was edited in a way that got confusing because it left scenes unfinished and then the resolution of the scene was shown later, sometimes not even on the same episode. That would have worked if it was just a few scenes but mid-way through it became very frequent. I didn’t hate the ending but I didn’t love it either, it was a bittersweet ending so maybe my middle road feelings fit with it.

8. Thirty-Nine (3.5 stars): This drama started so strong, the episodes were emotional and impactful, and the relationship between the three main characters was beautiful, funny and so captivating. Nonetheless, after the first few episodes, this lost its way, there were too many subplots (some of them not that interesting or not important to the overall story), also this was supposed to be a drama about three best friends, but as it went on the three main characters had fewer scenes together, one of the three friends was basically left out for most of the season and the romance took more relevance. I actually ended up enjoying all three romances (as controversial as that may be) but I was expecting this to focus on the friendship and the main storyline about one of the friends being sick. Nonetheless, the performances of everyone in this but especially the three main leads were outstanding and the last two episodes were incredible. I literally cried from the very first scene to the last one during the final episode.

What kdramas have you watched lately? Have you watched any of the ones I mentioned in this post?

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My favorite books of the first quarter of 2022

Hi everyone! I have seen so many people talking on different platforms about their favorite books so far this year and they made me 1) add a bunch of books to my tbr and 2) want to write a post and talk about my favorite books as well.

So here are the books I have given 5 stars to in the last 3 months, they are books that I read in 2022 but they didn’t necessarily come out this year. I started with my favorite and worked my way down:

Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas: I know this is a very polarizing book but I loved it and it’s the best book I have read this year. I love how atmospheric, unique and intriguing this book is. I was completely captivated while reading it. The fact that the plot is so mysterious and we don’t get all the answers worked perfectly for me and the complex and chaotic characters, as well as the found family element, were some of my favorite things about this. Also, the ending had me at the edge of my seat. (Review)

Payback’s a Witch by Lana Harper: This book has so many elements that I enjoy in stories and I also read it at the perfect time; it was exactly what I needed. I loved the witchy small town, the magic tournament, the humor, the captivating characters, the lovely sapphic romance, the banter between the two main characters, and the personal journey the main character went through. Overall, a fantastic fantasy romance book. (Review)

Comfort Me With Apples by Catherynne M. Valente: This is the kind of story you should go into knowing as little as possible so I won’t say too much, but this book was mindblowing. In such a small amount of pages, it packed so much. This was smart and quietly disturbing and it touches on some powerful themes and commentary revolving around religious ideas and feminist ideas, which is why it can be polarizing, but I found it really thought-proving. (Review)

Finlay Donovan is Killing It by Elle Cosimano: Right after finishing this book, I gave this book 4.5 stars but I bumped it up to 5 because I kept thinking about how much I enjoyed it. This is cozy mystery that’s fun, fast-paced, full of twists and turns, and absolutely absurd. It has a main character who is easy to root for and compelling side characters, as well as a plot that’s ridiculous but also really entertaining. (Review)

Under One Roof by Ali Hazelwood: This was such a fun and quick read, also it helped me get out of my months-long reading slump which makes this special to me. This is a romance novella that has forced proximity and “enemies” who are attracted to each other, slowly become friends, and then become so much more. This book makes the evolution of their relationship so believable and it manages to actually show them becoming more and more important to each other, which was my favorite thing about it. Also, as a bonus, this is really steamy.

What are the best books you have read so far in 2022? Have you read any of my favorite books?

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2022 in Movies #2: CODA, Lady Bird, The Batman, Spencer, The Farewell and more

Hi everyone! After a month of not watching any movies in February, I’m really excited to talk about some recent developments (aka I joined a film club) and about the 10 movies, I have watched recently: 9 in March and 1 in April, which I included because I wanted to have all the movies that we watched for the first cycle of the film club in one post.

FILM CLUB PICKS

I started a film club with my friends from college and it has become my favorite part of the week. We decided that we would have cycles of 4 movies each and the first cycle is movies directed by women. We have watched movies directed by a French director, an American director, a Chinese-American director and a Peruvian director. Here are my thoughts on them:

The Farewell (5 stars): This movie was fantastic. It was emotional and hard-hitting while having a very particular brand of humor and some very comedic moments. The performances were outstanding and the cinematography was incredible too. I loved getting to see more of China and its culture, and I loved the discussion about the dichotomy between Western individualism and Eastern collectivism and how nuanced the exploration of that subject was. Also, the portrait of the immigrant experience, the way it marks people but also the experience of those who stay behind and how that marks them was really interesting.

Portrait of a Lady in Fire (4.5 stars): This was a very slow, character-driven story. The two main actresses have so much chemistry and the way they portrayed the tension and attraction between their characters was incredible. The cinematography was striking, every image looked like a painting. For most of the film, the only characters on the screen were women and it was easy to feel the difference from other movies. The solidarity, support and trust, the horizontality of the relationships between them were so wonderful to see.

The attention to detail of the director is impressive, even the smallest things in this film say so much. The way it parallels the myth of Orpheus and Euridice, the focus of the female gaze and the way abortion was shown. This movie was thought-provoking and there was a lot about it to discuss. While the ending wasn’t happy, I didn’t find it to be tragic either. It was very profound and powerful. 

The Milk of Sorrow (4 stars): This movie was really powerful and hard to watch. The entire movie was filled with metaphors, that were a bit on the nose but also incredibly effective and impactful. The performances were outstanding and the cinematography too. This explored generational trauma and the ways it expresses itself, especially the impacts of rape on women and how there’s a fear that gets passed down intentionally from those experiences as a way to protect other women in their families. This showed a main character that has to learn to let go of that inherited trauma (at least partially) to be able to live. This also had indigenous Peruvian main characters, it showed their culture and their language and the way they use singing to process their traumas, and that added so much beauty and depth to the story. 

The main character is, justifiably so, mistrustful and a bit paranoid around men and it conveys that feeling so well that it’s impossible to feel at ease when a man is on screen. But also it depicts the way white women take advantage of vulnerable indigenous women and the biggest mistreatment of the main character in this movie ended up being at the hands of a white woman. Overall, there’s so much to say when it comes to this movie because it’s so profound and thought-provoking.

Lady Bird (4 stars): This is a good coming-of-age movie that addresses themes that may be common in this type of movie but it does it in a more nuanced way. These themes go from the complicated relationship between a judgemental and harsh mother and an impulse and self-centered teenage daughter (both characters are much more complex than that), to preoccupations around social class and money, and the exploration of sexuality. This movie feels like an authentic portrayal of teenage years, especially the cringy and awkward moments. 

The performances are outstanding, the way the movie is edited to move quickly from one scene and moment to the next is well-executed and the characters are complex and captivating. Still, the main character is so frustrating at times (which I believe is intentional) that it affected my overall enjoyment of the movie.

OTHER MOVIES

Beyond the movies I watched for the film club, I also watched a few Korean movies, a couple Oscar nominees and The Batman.

CODA (4.5 stars): This is a wholesome and heartfelt movie, that may be have been a little too predictable if it wasn’t because it portrays an experience that’s not often front and center in media. I loved the complicated but loving family dynamics, the way it shows the struggles of all of the family members, and how different deaf characters chose to engage and establish relationships with hearing people. The performances were great and the way this balances drama and comedy was well-achieved.

Tune in for Love (4.5 stars): This movie was adorable. Even if it has lots of emotional and angsty moments because of the main characters’ pasts, their missed encounters, and missed opportunities, Still, it’s just a sweet romance that expands a decade from 1994 to 2005. A really cool thing about this movie is the way they used technology to show what year it was and the passage of time. I couldn’t help but think about the way the evolution of technology has changed the way we establish relationships with others.

Space Sweepers (4 stars): This was fun and entertaining. The found family in this was so endearing, the characters were compelling, complex and also easy to root for, and the plot revolving around this group of dysfunctional people taking care of this little girl was sweet and engaging. While the ending felt a little like they cheated, it fits the tone of the movie well.

Spencer (4 stars): While psychological thrillers about paranoid characters are not usually my type of movie, I have to admit this is a good movie with an outstanding performance by Kristen Stewart. The way it explores the effect on Diana of being at the mercy of other people’s interests and expectations without one moment of privacy or solitude is fantastic. A feeling of dread and paranoia is palpable throughout the film and it’s reinforced by the editing, cinematography, music, and performances.

The Batman (3.5 star): This was way longer than it needed to be and that’s my main complaint. This would have been a lot better if it was shorter because it felt slow and it dragged at certain points. Also, I didn’t love the way Bruce Wayne was depicted like this reclused, uncharismatic guy. I would have liked it if there were more differences between Batman and Bruce. Nonetheless, I really liked that it didn’t feel like a superhero movie, it felt more like a crime film full of mobsters and corruption. And overall, I liked the plot progression and the way the movie ended.

Love and Leashes (3 stars): This was funny, unique and strangely educational about BDSM. I wish we got to see the characters connect a little more outside of their time as dom and sub, but overall, I enjoyed watching their relationship as dom and sub develop. I didn’t love the way it ended, it felt like a cliche ending for a movie that was not, and the big speech at the end by the male lead was a bit cringy. But it was still a fun, interesting movie to watch.

What was the best movie you watched in March? Have you watched any of the movies I mentioned?

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March 2022 Wrap Up | A month for romances and cozy mysteries

Hi everyone! I’m sorry that I haven’t been posting that much lately, but I have been feeling a little uninspired, I come up with ideas for posts but none of them make me excited so I have been struggling to make myself write posts, but I feel like I’m finally getting over that feeling.

In March, I read a lot less than last month but I’m ok with it because while I read 17 books in February, I didn’t watch any movies and I finished only 3 kdramas. This month I read a lot less, only 9 books, but I watched 9 movies and I finished 8 kdramas. So I feel like I’m striking a balance between all of my interests. My wrap-ups for movies and kdramas are coming soon.

But for now, here are my thoughts on the books I read in March:

The Soulmate Equation by Christina Lauren (4.5 stars): It’s been a while since I read a Christina Lauren book, but I’m so glad I decided to read this one. I read the whole thing in one sitting and loved it. This book not only has an interesting premise, but it also has great main and secondary characters, and the couple has really good chemistry, I enjoyed their conversations and seeing them slowly get to know each other. The only reason this is not a 5 stars book is that the conflict at the end felt a bit rushed and it didn’t quite work for me.

All Rhodes Lead Here by Mariana Zapata (4 stars): It’s been a while since I read a book by the queen of slow-burn romances, but this book absolutely reminded me why I love her books. By the time the main characters get together, you know why they like each other, you feel it’s right for them to be together, you witnessed them falling in love, there was no telling it was all showing and that makes you feel super invested in the relationship. This book has a heroine that it’s so nice and easy to root for, and the hero is grumpy but kind and considerate. Also, the hero has a son, and seeing him also establish his own relationship with the heroine was really special.

Weather Girl by Rachel Lynn Solomon (4 stars): This book feels very wholesome and lighthearted even when it deals with tough subjects like depression. It has two lovely, cinnamon roll main characters. Both of them are Jewish, Russell is a fat single dad and Ari has depression, and I feel like all of these parts of their identities are incorporated well into the story. They have a low angst relationship that naturally develops based on their incredible chemistry and the tension that builds between them. Also, this gets really steamy. The plot revolves around them trying to parent-trap their bosses, and while I enjoyed that storyline and the friendships that developed because of it, I’m glad that the author managed to balance it so it didn’t take over the story. Another interesting element was seeing Ari develop a relationship with Rusell’s daughter and I loved that they got along so well. The reason this is not a 5 stars read is that the conflict at the end felt cliche and it didn’t completely work for me.

Stuck with You by Ali Hazelwood (4 stars): Ali Hazelwood’s voice is so captivating and fun to read, her humor works for me, I always find her characters compelling and entertaining, and the steamy scenes are great. This story relies on a misunderstanding and lack of communication, but since there are two timelines and only one of them deals with these issues, for me, they didn’t drag and I didn’t mind those aspects of the story.I know one of the main criticisms of Ali Hazelwood’s stories is that the protagonist are pretty similar and I’m not gonna lie, they are. But since it’s characters and dynamics that work for me, I don’t have an issue with it.

Hook, Line and Sinker by Tessa Bailey (3.5 stars): I liked this book more than the first one, which I know it’s an unpopular opinion. I loved Hannah and I actually really liked Fox too, even if his insecurities made him behave in ways that were a bit irritating. But overall, I really liked both main characters and I loved their relationship. The text conversations at the beginning of the book really helped to quickly create an idea of their friendship. I loved their deep conversations and how supportive they were of each other. Nonetheless, I had two main issues with this book. The first one is the pacing of the book and also the pacing of their relationship development, there was something about it that felt off, it was very stop-start and it didn’t flow. The second issue is that the conflict at the end needed to happen either sooner or not happened at all because the resolution felt rushed at the end.

The Roughest Draft by Emily Wibberley & Austin Siegemund-Broka (3,5 stars): I have really complicated feelings about this book, there were things I liked and things I didn’t and I talk more about them in my full review

Finlay Donovan Knocks ‘Em Dead by Elle Cosimano (4 stars): This was as fun and entertaining as the first book in the series, the characters are easy to root for and the relationships between them are one of the best things about these books, especially the friendship between Finlay and Vero. Nonetheless, while the first book was 5 stars because of how fresh it felt, this one lost that fresh element and felt like more of the same, which is a good thing since it has the same great humor and characters, but I think that’s why it’s not 5 stars. Also, I had a harder time suspending my disbelief because at this point the fact that Finlay has been caught is pretty ridiculous.

Homicide and Halo-Halo by Mia P. Manansala (4 stars): This was a quick, captivating and entertaining read. It has a compelling and endearing cast of characters, and it’s interesting to see the way it includes the culture and food from the Philippines. The mystery was a bit predictable, but I liked how it addressed the trauma and ptsd of the main character after the events of the previous book. The one thing that really didn’t work for me in this was the romance, there was sort of a love triangle and while in the previous book there was more doubt of who the heroine liked more, it’s clear very early on in this book who she is leaning toward. The problem is that she has zero chemistry with that person, he came across as a sweet guy who is just a friend to her.

The Bitch by Pilar Quintana (3.5 stars): Pilar Quintana’s writing is great as always and she does some interesting things in this book. I liked the way she portrays the setting, this settlement on the Pacific coast of Colombia, while it’s very matter-of-fact and not overly descriptive, it’s successful in letting the reader see the complex realities of this territory and its inhabitants. I also enjoyed the complicated and almost visceral way it addresses motherhood. Nonetheless, there was something missing for me, I feel like I failed to grasp the meaning behind this.

What are the best and worst books you read in March? Was March a good reading month for you?

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Books I wish I could read again for the first time

While I don’t watch booktok content, I still spend a lot of time on tiktok and the other day I saw a video from a bookstore (I didn’t save the video so I don’t know who they are), where booksellers talked about books they wish they could read for the first time, and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about what books would I choose. So today I want to share the books I came up with:

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia: this book made me feel so many things so strongly when I read it and I don’t think it would be quite the same on re-read. Also, I think the creepy moments and the horror of the reveals hit harder on the first read.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel: this book has so many different elements (a pandemic, a cult, a theater group, some graphic novels) and different timelines, and the first time I read it it was hard to imagine how they all fit together. I would love to experience again the moment when everything made sense and I saw how every thread was tied together.

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern: when I read this, I felt like I was lost in a strange and beautiful world and I was so intrigued by the mystery of this library, and I would love to have that feeling again and I think it may no be as strong on a re-read

Jade City by Fonda Lee: Something happens in this book that broke my heart and I think that feeling can really only be experienced fully the first time around.Also, the not knowing what’s going to happen next and feeling like no one is safe is not the same once you know what happened.

Kate Daniels Series by Ilona Andrews: this series brought me so much joy, I read all 10 books in about 2 weeks and I fell in love with the characters and the world. I would love to experience again that moment when I realized that I had found something special.

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie: This book is full of suspense, secrets and lies, and I would love to read it again without knowing who is behind everything, if the accusations about the characters are true, and if anyone is going to survive. I remember trying to figure out the mystery being a really fun part of the reading experience because it felt like all the clues were there, I would love to have that again.

Only When It’s Us by Chloe Liese: beyond the fact that this book is excellent, I wish I could read it for the first time because it made me confront the things I assume about people when I meet them and it wouldn’t happen on a re-read because I’d go in knowing that the assumption is wrong.

Headliners by Lucy Parker: this book was a great romance and part of the reason why it’s the humor, I laughed out loud so many times because there were so many funny moments that came unexpectedly and I think they won’t be as funny a second time around, so I would love to be able to experience it for the first time again.

What books do you wish you could read for the first time?

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Book Review: The Roughest Draft by Emily Wibberley & Austin Siegemund-Broka

Title: The Roughest Draft

Authors: Emily Wibberley & Austin Siegemund-Broka

Publishing date:   January 25th 2022

Publisher:  Berkley

Genre: Romance

Pages: 336

Link: Goodreads

Three years ago, Katrina Freeling and Nathan Van Huysen were the brightest literary stars on the horizon, their cowritten books topping bestseller lists. But on the heels of their greatest success, they ended their partnership on bad terms, for reasons neither would divulge to the public. They haven’t spoken since, and never planned to, except they have one final book due on contract.

Facing crossroads in their personal and professional lives, they’re forced to reunite. The last thing they ever thought they’d do again is hole up in the tiny Florida town where they wrote their previous book, trying to finish a new manuscript quickly and painlessly. Working through the reasons they’ve hated each other for the past three years isn’t easy, especially not while writing a romantic novel.

While passion and prose push them closer together in the Florida heat, Katrina and Nathan will learn that relationships, like writing, sometimes take a few rough drafts before they get it right.

I have conflicting feelings about this book. On one hand, I read it quickly and was really interested and engaged while reading it. I found the premise of this intriguing, two authors who used to co-write books together, suddenly stopped and their relationship imploded after something unknown happened between them, but after 4 years they are reunited to write a new book. I liked the way this portraited the tension and animosity between the main characters, the way it showed that at the same time they missed each other and their relationship, and I also liked seeing their relationship become friendlier and then antagonistic and back again because it felt realistic after such a long time being mad at each other. Moreover, it was interesting to get insight into the process of co-writing a book, I really appreciated the way their creative process was shown.

On the other hand, I don’t think this had the most memorable characters, I wish there was a bit more romance, and also, while I didn’t completely dislike the reason behind their big fight because I feel that it explained why they needed time apart and why their friendship ended, I don’t think it entirely explained the anger they felt towards each other.

Also, the storyline in this book is messy, and, for the most part, I didn’t dislike the way this handled the messiness. This book deals with falling in love with a person while you are in a relationship with someone else, which is never an easy subject to address but it’s something that happens all the time. There was no physical cheating (at least from my perspective), but what bugged me is the insistence of both main characters that in the past timeline, before their fight, there wasn’t any cheating. They kept saying and believing “we didn’t cheat”, “there was no cheating”, but for a book that talked about infidelity, there was a lack of nuance in that way it addressed it, it was as if the only type of cheating is the physical kind, and that’s not true, in the past timeline there was definitely emotional cheating. And I actually didn’t dislike that there was emotional cheating or how it was portrayed but I was frustrated about the fact that it wasn’t recognized and discussed as such. The denial of it was what I had a problem with.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading this, I had fun reading experience and I don’t think this is a bad book. I’m actually looking forward to more adult romances written by this writing duo. My issues with this are not that significant, except for the last one about emotional cheating, which was really frustrating to me and it kept taking me out of the story.

RATING: 3,5 STARS

Have you read or are you planning to read this book? If you have read it, what did you think about the emotional cheating element in this book and the way it was handled?

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