February 2022 Wrap Up | the best reading month I’ve had in a long time

I don’t think I have ever been this excited to write a wrap up, but after almost a year of a reading slump and not feeling like I loved reading as much as I used to, I’m finally back in a reading mood and it’s all thanks to a little challenge where I tried to read 100 pages every day for a week. After that challenge, I read so much and I loved most of the books immensely.

So, despite the fact that this blog post is late and my posting schedule went out of the window this week because work was wild and I had so much to do, I’m still really happy to share my thoughts on the 17 books I read in February!

Under One Roof by Ali Hazelwood (5 stars): This was such a fun and quick read. It 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. Also, as a bonus, this is really steamy.

Payback’s a Witch by Lana Harper (5 stars): 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. (Full review)

Count Your Lucky Stars by Alexandria Bellefleur (3.5 stars): I really liked the characters and their chemistry but the lack of communication got really annoying and the conflict was boring. (Full review)

Bending the Rules by Christina C. Jones (3.5 stars): This was a quick, entertaining read with lots of steam. It’s a good friends-to-lovers story, but the one big issue is that there’s quite a bit of miscommunication.

Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers (3 stars): Relatable main character, great friendships, and an interesting exploration of mental illness, but the writing wasn’t for me and the romance felt forced and awkward. (Full review)

Comfort Me With Apples by Catherynne M. Valente (5 stars): This was so unexpectedly good! I thought it was gonna be a completely different story, but it’s so smart and quietly disturbing. (Full review)

Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas (5 stars): This was a very slow, atmospheric book, it was strange and captivating. I was intrigued the entire time while reading and the ending had me at the edge of my seat. (Full review)

Clean Sweep by Ilona Andrews (4 stars): Ilona Andrews did it again, once I started reading this I didn’t want to stop. Their books are always compulsively readble and fun. They also come up with the most interesting concept, this is a mix of fantasy and sci-fi full of vampires, werewolves, different types of aliens, magical inns, advanced technology and so much more. The main characters are easy to root for and captivating, and the little hints of the romance were enough to make me want more.

Sweep in Peace by Ilona Andrews (3.5 stars): While this was interesting, I was having trouble being fully invested in the story for the first 60% because the main character had no real personal stakes in the plot, so I felt a little detached. I also missed the love interest who doesn’t show up for most of the book. Nonetheless, the last part of the book was SO GOOD, the way everything came together and the main character acting like a badass were things I really enjoyed.

One Fell Sweep by Ilona Andrews (4 stars): I really enjoyed this, it was action-packed and so fun to read. The main characters were great as always, it had an amazing cast of side characters (both old and new), the plot was really interesting and I enjoyed the twist that happened at the end. While I really like the main couple and we got some intense, emotional moments between them, I wish there were a few more quiet, nice moments of them connecting and falling in love outside of life-threatening situations. Also, while I liked the side couple, I think the build-up was missing, it’s almost like they went from 0 to 100.

Angel of Khan el-Khalili and The Haunting of Tram Car 015 by P. Djelí Clark (3.5 stars): Just like the first novella in the Dead Djinn Universe, both this short story and this novella showed glimpses of a fascinating and unique world and magic system and they had interesting characters. Nonetheless, the short format is simply not working for me with this series, still, I’m looking forward to reading the full-length novel.

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir (4 stars): this had an interesting concept, great main characters, good humor, a surprising change in direction, but it dragged so much at certain points. (Full review)

A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers (4 stars): Didn’t love the main character and found the beginning a bit boring but I liked the concept, the casual queerness, and the message about not tying your value to your job and productivity. (Full review)

Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto (4.5 stars): This is over the top, melodramatic and so fun. It’s not exactly a murder mystery, it’s more a story of how to get away with murder where things keep going wrong but in a really funny way. This has incredible main characters, the relationship between Meddy and the aunts is heartwarming but their bickering and rivalries are really funny at points too. There’s a second chance romance that’s a big part of the story, and while it was good, I think Nathan forgave Meddy way too easily and she should have groveled more.

I’m Still Here by Austin Channing Brown (4 star): This was a really good collection of essays, it was an interesting, quick read. There weren’t many new ideas in it, but what made it special was the way the author addressed race and religion and the reluctance of some Christians to recognize their racism and put in the work to change. I’m not a religious person but I still found what Brown had to say really captivating and thought-provoking.

The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw (4 stars): This short story collection is captivating, messy, and realistic. It talks mainly about queerness, womanhood, complicated mother/daughter relationships, and the intersections of these things with religion and faith. The writing is fantastic and, with the exception of one, I enjoyed every single story in this collection which almost never happens. My favorite stories were Eula, Peach Cobbler, Snowfall and How to Make Love to a Physics Professor.

What is your favorite and least favorite book of February? Was February a good reading month for you?

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Reviewing Sci-Fi Books: Project Hail Mary + A Psalm for the Wild-Built

Hi everyone! I’ve been trying to catch up on some 2021 releases that I didn’t read last year and these two sci-fi books were at the top of my list. I’m happy to say that overall I enjoyed both of them even if I had some issues that prevented me from completely loving them. Here are my thoughts:

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

Ryland Grace is the sole survivor on a desperate, last-chance mission—and if he fails, humanity and the Earth itself will perish. Except that right now, he doesn’t know that. He can’t even remember his own name, let alone the nature of his assignment or how to complete it.

All he knows is that he’s been asleep for a very, very long time. And he’s just been awakened to find himself millions of miles from home, with nothing but two corpses for company. His crewmates dead, his memories fuzzily returning, he realizes that an impossible task now confronts him. Alone on this tiny ship that’s been cobbled together by every government and space agency on the planet and hurled into the depths of space, it’s up to him to conquer an extinction-level threat to our species. And thanks to an unexpected ally, he just might have a chance.

The humorous tone of the book captured my attention as soon as I started reading, and it worked really well to offset the tense and hopeless situation the book revolves around. The first part of this book was so strong because it was easy to feel the tension and how desperate the situation was for the entire population of earth. Andy Weir used the two timeliness perfectly to create intrigue and keep the reader engaged; having this middle school teacher wake up in a spaceship with no memory of how he got there and then seeing the past and slowly understanding the dire situation kept the book interesting. And then the story takes an unexpected turn that added a very compelling element to the story and the way the book explored the consequences of that change in direction was very engrossing at first.

Nonetheless, after a while, the plot basically stopped progressing and the new elements stopped being as interesting. The book started to drag because there are certain interactions and developments that were interesting at first but that became repetitive and monotonous, and that may have been the author’s intent since that’s a realistic portrait of those experiences but it did make the reading experience a little less fun. Also, sometimes it felt like the author got caught up in showing all the cool science and forgot about the story.

Still, the book picked up again once things started to progress and I was at the edge of my seat for most of the last 25% when everything kept going wrong and the characters had to come up with riskier plans to try to save the world. Nonetheless, while everything going wrong can add tension and excitement, there’s a fine line before it stops doing that and instead, it makes the reader go “when is this going to end?”, and this book was very close to crossing that line for me. But I feel like ultimately it didn’t cross it and I actually enjoyed the ending. It was bittersweet, unexpected and it fit the story well.

RATING: 4 STARS

A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers

Ryland Grace is the sole survivor on a desperate, last-chance mission—and if he fails, humanity and the Earth itself will perish. Except that right now, he doesn’t know that. He can’t even remember his own name, let alone the nature of his assignment or how to complete it.

All he knows is that he’s been asleep for a very, very long time. And he’s just been awakened to find himself millions of miles from home, with nothing but two corpses for company. His crewmates dead, his memories fuzzily returning, he realizes that an impossible task now confronts him. Alone on this tiny ship that’s been cobbled together by every government and space agency on the planet and hurled into the depths of space, it’s up to him to conquer an extinction-level threat to our species. And thanks to an unexpected ally, he just might have a chance.

My expectations for this book were really high because I loved the two Becky Chambers books I’ve read, and while this wasn’t everything I hoped for, it was still a good read. The concept of the book was really interesting, a world where robots suddenly became self-aware and decided to live apart from humans without contact with them, and humans are trying to fix the mistake of the past by looking after nature and respecting the decision of robots. Overall, the book had a very hopeful tone that started with this concept, the idea that humans can change and decide to work together, commit to saving the environment, and learn to respect other beings.

My main problem was that I found Sibling Dex to be a boring main character, and since almost half of the book is focused only on him, his job as a tea monk and his journey, I wasn’t that invested. Nonetheless, I really appreciated the casual queerness (Sibling Dex is nonbinary) and getting to see different parts of the world because of his job as a tea monk implied a lot of traveling. Furthermore, once Mosscap, a robot and the second main character, is introduced things become better (plot and character-wise). Mosscap is a really wholesome character and it adds so much warmth to the story. Also, it was interesting seeing Dex and Mosscap learning about each other’s cultures and ways of life. This book does a very good job of addressing difference and otherness, the way two cultures can see and understand the same thing in very different ways.

Lastly, this book is thought-provoking in more than one way, but what stuck with me the most is the powerful commentary on separating our value from what we do, what we contribute and our productivity, which is reflected in my favorite quote from the book: “You keep asking why your work is not enough, and I don’t know how to answer that, because it is enough to exist in the world and marvel at it. You don’t need to justify that, or earn it. You are allowed to just live.”

RATING: 4 STARS

Have you read these books? What Sci-Fi books have you read and loved recently?

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I tried to read 100 pages every day for a week

I feel like I mention this in all of my posts for one reason or another, but I was in a reading slump for most of 2021, and because of that I fell out of the habit of reading every day. I have been trying to get back to it but it’s been hard, so I decided to try to read 100 pages every day for a week to see if it helped. Spoiler alert: I actually failed the challenge, but it still had very positive results even if I didn’t manage to read 100 pages every day.

In this post, I tell you about my experience doing this reading challenge with updates of how much and what did I read every day of the week. I also decided to include a peek into what I did every day of the week besides reading. I’m someone who really enjoys reading updates about the life of people I follow, so I thought it would be fun to share a little a bit about my life.

Now that all that is out of the way, here’s how the reading challenge went:

February 7

Page count: 110 pages

The first day of this challenge, I read the last 40 pages of The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw, which was on my tbr for Black History Month. I really liked all the stories except for one which is really difficult to accomplish for a short story collection. The way it addressed queerness, womanhood, complicated mother/daughter relationships, and the intersections of these things with religion and faith was really interesting.

I also read 70 pages of The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson, which I enjoyed but it wasn’t what I was in the mood for so I’ve put it down for now.

Now, here’s a little peek into the other things I did that day:

Low-stakes series set in small towns really work for me when I’m anxious, so I had a lot of fun watching season 2 of Sweet Magnolias. I also watched an episode of Blackpink House, as a new-ish Blackpink fan I’m having fun getting caught up with all the content. Lastly, the blog post I finished this day was Ranking all the kdramas I watched in January 2022 .

February 8

Page count: 51 pages

On day 2, I started Bending the Rules by Christina C. Jones and read 51 pages. I got hooked right away, but unfortunately, I didn’t hit the 100 pages mark because I started reading at like 11:00 pm. In this book, the main characters used to be best friends but got into a fight 7 years prior and haven’t talked since, but once they reunite and clear up the misunderstanding, sparks begin to fly. Christina C Jones really knows how to write great chemistry between her main characters.

A little peek into the other things I did that day:

I started a new kdrama and it wasn’t the best decision for my reading. I started watching kdramas last year and they are the main reason I have been reading so much less the last few months. Still, I’m having a lot of fun watching dramas, so I don’t think this is gonna change anytime soon.

February 9

Page count: 35 pages

Things went even worst on day 3, since I only read 35 pages of Bending the Rules this day. While I was enjoying the book, I was too invested in the kdrama I was watching and didn’t make that much time to read. Nonetheless, if it wasn’t for this challenge, I wouldn’t have read anything this day or the day before. I’ll take that as a small win.

A little peek into the other things I did that day:

I finished my kdrama, which was Just Between Lovers (aka Rain or Shine) and I really enjoyed it. It was really angsty and it had a really slow-burn romance, but it was also touching and sweet and it had some really complex and interesting side characters. I became so engrossed in this that I needed to finish it and that’s why I ended up reading so little this day.

February 10

Page count: 312 pages

On day 4, I made up for not reading that much during days 2 and 3. I read the final 133 pages of Bending the Rules and while I ended up liking the book, there was a lot of miscommunication which frustrated me a bit. I also read the last 159 pages of Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers and I enjoyed the final part of the book more than the rest because it was more focused on the main character healing and learning to take care of her mental health. The writing and the romance in this didn’t work for me (full review to come!). Lastly, I read 20 pages of The Haunting of Tram Car 015 by P. Djelí Clark and these first pages were ok, but I wasn’t too invested in the beginning.

A little peek into what other things I did that day:

I have been enjoying blog hopping a lot lately, I’m participating in the 2022 Support Book Bloggers challenge this year and I’m trying to visit other blogs and take the time to comment as a way to show people that I value their content.

February 11

Page count: 180 pages

<Another good day for reading. I read the last 93 pages of The Haunting of Tram Car 015 by P. Djelí Clark, which is steampunk fantasy with a mystery element. While it showed glimpses of a complex and unique world with so many different kinds of supernatural creatures, the short format didn’t completely work for me, still I’m looking forward to reading the full-length novel. I also read the last 87 pages of A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers, which was good, but I was expecting a little more. My main issue is that I didn’t love the main character, I found them boring, but I did like the casual queerness, the concept of a world, the hopeful tone of the story, the wholesome second main character and the interesting commentary on productivity.

A little peek into the other things I did that day:

My anxiety has been really bad lately which means I have a hard time doing the same activity for more than 20 minutes. This was a particularly bad day in terms of anxiety, so that’s why I did so many things throughout the day. I was constantly jumping from one activity to another.

February 12

Page Count: 0 pages

I completely forgot to read this day, I unexpectedly had to work on a Saturday and I was so anxious the whole day, so it was not fun. Nonetheless, I had a friend’s birthday party that night and seeing my friends helped me feel better and I ended up having a great time.

February 13

Page count: 223 pages

The last day was also a very good day in terms of reading, I finished two books and I gave both of them 5 stars! I read 120 pages of Under One Roof by Ali Hazelwood and I LOVED this novella. This 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. Also, this is really steamy. Lastly, I read 103 pages of Comfort Me with Apples by Catherynne M. Valente and the story in this book was so unexpected but so good! It’s better to go into this knowing as little as possible. I thought it was gonna be a completely different story, but it’s so smart and quietly disturbing and I loved it.

A little peek into the other things I did that day:

Another day when I was really anxious which is why I did so many things. A new drama that I was highly anticipating started airing, I watched the first 2 episodes of Forecasting Love and Weather and I LOVED them. I’ve got a good feeling that this is going to be a new favorite kdrama. Also, the blog post I finished writing was 5 perfect book-song pairings.

I tried to be more active by taking a walk, going grocery shipping and decluttering my closet, to see if it would help with my anxiety and it actually did. So that was really good.

RESULTS

TOTAL OF PAGES READ: 911 pages

I feel like this challenge ended up having really positive outcomes, some that I expected and some that I didn’t:

This challenge helped me read even on days when I wasn’t particularly motivated to do it. Even if I didn’t read 100 pages every day, knowing that I was participating in this challenge made me try. Since I was in a reading slump for most of last year and I’m just coming out of it, this helped me get back to my habit of reading at least a little every day.

An unexpected outcome is that this challenge put me in a reading mood. While I was out of the reading slump for a while and I could read, I didn’t feel that passionate desire to read that I used to have, but thanks to this challenge, I got that feeling back. I want to read all the time and I feel so invested in all the books I have been reading, which is something that wasn’t feeling lately.

Overall, I’m really glad that I decided to do this challenge! now I know that if I’m ever feeling unmotivated when it comes to reading, this is something I can try.

Have you ever tried to read 100 pages every day? if you have, how did it go? What strategies do you use to get back the motivation to read when you feel like you’re losing it?

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2021 Releases I Want to Read This Year

Hi everyone! Today I want to talk about all the 2021 releases that I didn’t get to read last year mainly because I was in a terrible reading slump for half of the year. These books are mainly YA books, and while I don’t read that much YA anymore, these are all part of different series that I want to finish. Then I have a few adult romances and lastly a miscellaneous group of adult books.

Cazadora by Romina Garber: I absolutely loved Lobizona, it was one of my favorite books of 2020, and because of my slump I didn’t get to read the sequel when it came out last year, but I definitely want to visit this interesting magical world again.

Dragonblood Ring by Amparo Ortiz: again I loved Blazewrath Games, it was one of my favorite books of 2020, and because of my slump didn’t get to the sequel last year. I’m really excited about this book because this is a duology so I can’t wait to find out how the story ends.

The Bronzed Beasts by Roshani Chokshi: While I have some complaints about this series, the character have me in their grip so I can’t wait to know what will happen to them and how their relationships will evolve.

Our Violent Ends by Chloe Gong: another conclusion to a duology that I can’t wait to read, I loved These Violent Delights when I read it in 2021 and I want to continue with this sequel before I forget everything that happened in that book.

All Rhodes Lead Here by Mariana Zapata: I have read 3 Mariana Zapata books and I have loved all of them but I wasn’t interested in anything else from her backlist, but this new release not only sounds amazing, but it has also gotten great reviews.

First Love, Take Two by Sajni Patel: I loved the first book in this series of companion novels and I’m looking forward to reading this even if I’m a bit nervous because 2021 proved that second-chance romances are very hit or miss for me. Nonetheless, I’m hopeful based on how much I loved the first book.

Bombshell by Sarah MacLean: I have loved so many Sarah MacLean books so I obviously want to start her newest series. I have seen nothing but good reviews for this, so I’m excited!

The Duke Heist by Erica Ridley: it seems to me like everyone (in the historical romance community) has read this book and loved it, so I’m intrigued. The premise sounds really good and I’m looking forward to reading my first Erica Ridley.

Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto: I have been loving and craving cozy mysteries lately, so I’m excited to read another one, especially one that has a big romance component to it.

A Psalm for the Wild Built by Becky Chambers: I have read 2 Becky Chambers books before and they were both 5 stars, so I have high expectations for this one. I’m pretty I’ll love it.

Blood Heir by Ilona Andrews: I read the entire Kate Daniels series in 2 weeks in 2021 and I loved Julie and Derek as characters, so of course, I want to read their story. I’m a bit hesitant because book two doesn’t have a release date but I’m really curious.

Goddess of Filth by V. Castro: I got into horror in 2021 and I particularly enjoyed horror books by Latinx authors and I want to continue to read more of them, so this is just something I really want to get to.

Do you have any 2021 releases that you didn’t get to read last year but still want to? What 2021 releases are at the top of your tbr?

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