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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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 5 Star Reads: Catherine House + Comfort Me With Apples

As I have mentioned before, I’m trying to catch up with the 2021 releases that I didn’t get to read last year and reviewing some of them. Today, I’m reviewing two “kind of” horror books that I LOVED.

Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas

Catherine House is a school of higher learning like no other. Hidden deep in the woods of rural Pennsylvania, this crucible of reformist liberal arts study with its experimental curriculum, wildly selective admissions policy, and formidable endowment, has produced some of the world’s best minds: prize-winning authors, artists, inventors, Supreme Court justices, presidents. For those lucky few selected, tuition, room, and board are free. But acceptance comes with a price. Students are required to give the House three years—summers included—completely removed from the outside world. Family, friends, television, music, even their clothing must be left behind. In return, the school promises its graduates a future of sublime power and prestige, and that they can become anything or anyone they desire.

Among this year’s incoming class is Ines, who expects to trade blurry nights of parties, pills, cruel friends, and dangerous men for rigorous intellectual discipline—only to discover an environment of sanctioned revelry. The school’s enigmatic director, Viktória, encourages the students to explore, to expand their minds, to find themselves and their place within the formidable black iron gates of Catherine.

For Ines, Catherine is the closest thing to a home she’s ever had, and her serious, timid roommate, Baby, soon becomes an unlikely friend. Yet the House’s strange protocols make this refuge, with its worn velvet and weathered leather, feel increasingly like a gilded prison. And when Baby’s obsessive desire for acceptance ends in tragedy, Ines begins to suspect that the school—in all its shabby splendor, hallowed history, advanced theories, and controlled decadence—might be hiding a dangerous agenda that is connected to a secretive, tightly knit group of students selected to study its most promising and mysterious curriculum.

Recently, I have realized that I love gothic stories, especially gothic horror, because they tend to be slow, atmospheric reads that are suspenseful and tense rather than scary, and that it’s the perfect way of describing this book. Thomas does a fantastic job of writing a very atmospheric story and building this dreamlike sensation that makes the story strange and captivating. I was intrigued the entire time while reading and I couldn’t put this book down.

This is definitely not the kind of book you understand and while some things are revealed about the mysterious activities taking place in Catherine House, that’s not really the point of the book. You don’t get to the end and suddenly get all the answers or find out the truth. This is just the story of the three years that Ines and her friends spent at Catherine House; it’s a story of academic pressure, weird experiments, open secrets, making friends and feeling connected to a place that may not be good for you.

While the characters are not particularly likable, they were complex, chaotic and intriguing. Everyone had a secret past and a reason to be at Catherine House, and while most of these secrets are not revealed, they created this mysterious veil around the characters that kept me engrossed. One of my favorite parts of this book is the friendships/found family that Ines is part of, all these characters that were looking for a connection and found it among each other.

The last part of the book had me at the edge of my seat because I was so invested and I just wanted to know how it was going to end. While the ending did feel really abrupt and I was left reeling for a while after I finished this book, but I’ve come to realize that it fits the story.

RATING: 5 STARS

Comfort Me with Apples by Catherynne M. Valente

Sophia was made for him. Her perfect husband. She can feel it in her bones. He is perfect. Their home together in Arcadia Gardens is perfect. Everything is perfect.

It’s just that he’s away so much. So often. He works so hard. She misses him. And he misses her. He says he does, so it must be true. He is the perfect husband and everything is perfect.

But sometimes Sophia wonders about things. Strange things. Dark things. The look on her husband’s face when he comes back from a long business trip. The questions he will not answer. The locked basement she is never allowed to enter. And whenever she asks the neighbors, they can’t quite meet her gaze…But everything is perfect. Isn’t it?

This is a very hard book to review because it’s the kind of story you should go into knowing as little as possible. The synopsis while accurate only represents one part of the story and it doesn’t even hint at the themes and powerful commentary this story ended up touching on. It’s commentary that can end up being very polarizing, so I can understand why some people may not like this.

This book was bizarre and eerie, there was an awkward tension that was conveyed very well, and a sense of being watched and manipulated that was very distressing. Everyone and everything in this book was suspicious and secretive, no one and nothing could be trusted, which made this the kind of book where you can come up with a hundred different theories for what’s going on. I didn’t see the twist coming, it was so unexpected but so good. It was smart and quietly disturbing and I loved it. The last part of this book was mindblowing and once the book ends you realize how thought-provoking what the author was trying to say is.

RATING: 5 STARS

Have you read these books? What are your favorite horror books?

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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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