Hello there, friends! In the blink of an eye, January is over and we are already diving into the second month of the year (or am I the only one who feels like the passage of time has been extraordinarily quick?).
Either way, a new month means new memories, new opportunities, and ultimately, a new chance to halfheartedly convince ourselves that this is the month we will finally conquer our TBR piles and exterminate the enormous shameful monster that is our review backlog*.
* Yep, I see you.
But of course, a new month also means having to say goodbye its predecessor. Before we officially leave January behind and fully embrace what February has in store for us, let’s quickly run through some of the highlights and lowlights (we are making this made-up word ✨ A Thing ✨ in 2019, okay) of January — with scattered pieces of thoughts and self-reflection in between. Or something of the sort.
MY MONTH IN BOOKS
ON WHAT I READ
For the month of January, I was able to read a total of six (6) books, which is only two books short of what I intended to finish by the end of the month. Nonetheless, I am still right on schedule in terms of my yearly reading goal of 69 books! Yay for small victories!
Plus, I am extremely happy to note that all I’ve read for January are diverse books (that is, books that either feature marginalized characters or are written by authors with marginalized identities), and even more so, all six books count towards my progress in Year of the Asian Reading Challenge 2019.
📚 The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco // By this point, y’all
better know that Rin Chupeco is my one true queen (because this book of hers is what ignited my interest in Asian-inspired fantasy and in Asian books as a whole). With its influences drawn from multiple Asian cultures and its phenomenal world-building, reading The Bone Witch for the second time was definitely the perfect way to start my year! It was great to revisit Tea’s roots and to go over a lot of the details I missed during my first read.
📚 The Heart Forger by Rin Chupeco // Second Book Syndrome? I don’t know her. Because The Heart Forger is undoubtedly literary perfection! This really takes Tea’s story to the next level and expertly builds the momentum for the final installment of the trilogy. Plus, this sequel has the most adorable romance I’ve ever encountered in YA fantasy(!!!).
📚 The Shadow Glass by Rin Chupeco // This is the epitome of addictive. I finished The Heart Forger some time in the morning and devoured the entirety of The Shadow Glass within the same day. Damn, what a ride! What a conclusion to the best YA fantasy I’ve ever read. Y’all, no exaggerations here, this book broke me. If I had a heartsglass, it would currently be shattered. Into perpetually bleeding shards. And stained with my tears.
📚 The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi // This was my first foray into the writing of Roshani Chokshi, and now, I can’t help but feel annoyingly stupid for taking so long — because The Gilded Wolves is all sorts of amazing and socially relevant. From the wonderfully lush prose to the endearing cast of diverse characters, this really blew me away and has me feeling so many things. // Read my full review.
📚 Here and Now and Then by Mike Chen // Certainly my least favorite read of the month largely because I struggled to invest in the story and in the characters. Here and Now and Then is an adult science fiction novel about time travel and families. It’s very character-driven with only glimpses of action and thrilling adventure.
📚 The Weight of Our Sky by Hanna Alkaf // I finished the remaining chapters of this YA historical fiction novel an hour before my hosting gig, and it had me literally weeping inside an empty auditorium. The Weight of Our Sky is dark but hopeful, terrifying but thoughtful, and sensitive but remarkably nuanced. It’s so good. // Read my full review.
ON WHAT I WILL READ
As a lot of you may know, I am really not the type to post monthly TBRs largely because I am the biggest mood reader ever. However, for this year, I thought it would be interesting to investigate how frequently I deviate from my planned reading. In keeping track of this, I’ve made a Twitter thread you can easily follow (in the unlikely chance that you are curious, too).
For January, I did not pick up a book that wasn’t in my TBR, but I did temporarily put down Descendant of the Crane (which I will continue in February) and I also gave up on The Antidote (learn why). Not bad for the first month, I guess. But I digress. Here is a modest lineup of books I’m hoping to read in February!
MY MONTH IN BLOGGING
ON WHAT I WROTE
📝 I channeled my inner extra into introducing my new blog, which reveals some of my plots and schemes for the rest of the year and is sprinkled with numerous Taylor Swift references (courtesy of her Reputation tour).
📝 January also marks the start of the first ever Year of the Asian Reading Challenge, which is hosted and organized by yours truly, CW @ The Quiet Pond, Lily @ Sprinkles of Dreams, and Vicky @ Vicky Who Reads. We currently have more than 150 participating readers, and if you aren’t one of them, then I highly encourage you to sign up!
📒 YARC 2019: Share and link up the Asian books you’ve read in February!
📝 The universe smiled down upon me and gave me the highest honor of revealing the book cover of The Dragon Warrior by Katie Zhao, which is set to be released this coming October! The cover reveal comes with bonus goodies you should definiely check out!
📝 I also introduced my first organized blog tour of the year (courtesy of Caffeine Book Tours), which will feature an amazing New Adult science fiction debut novel from POC author, Ja-Mel Vinson.
📝 I shared a pretty extensive list of upcoming books from Asian authors that may have bypassed your radar.
📝 Although I read six books, I was only able to post two book reviews for January. I am in love with my new review format (which now comes with diversity tags to help you find specific representation!!!), so it’s all good.
📒 The Weight of Our Sky by Hanna Alkaf: A thoughtful take on Malaysia’s dark history that had me weeping
📝 Finally, I decided to come clean and confess all my ambitions for 2019 (please hold me accountable, friends!).
ON WHAT I FOUND INTERESTING ONLINE
📝 I am the worst at commenting on blog posts, be it replying to comments on my blog or remembering to leave a comment on other bloggers’ platforms. More often than not, I usually dedicate my limited free time (because there is very little breathing room in research) to reading books and creating new content. I am slowly trying to change this because I really do like interacting with fellow bloggers and readers. It is — or rather, I am — a work in progress for sure. In the meantime, here are a few posts that I think y’all should check out and shower with love and appreciation:
📒 Karlita shared a list of January 2019 releases and wrote a basic HTML tutorial that’s specifically for book bloggers.
📒 Lara explains why your blogging voice and style matters.
📒 I absolutely loved The Gilded Wolves so I just about screamed excitedly when I first saw the gorgeous phone wallpapers designed by Aentee!
📒 Using statistical tools and analyses, May discussed the lack of appreciation book bloggers receive.
📒 Nadia compiled a list of books from Muslim authors.
📒 Jennie shared other ways to read and to subscribe to blogs and why giving your audience a variety of options is important.
📒 Fantastic bullet journal spreads created by Annie, Zia, Kathryn, and Thya — I’m trying to bujo for the first time this year so I’m always interested in seeing spreads from friends.
📒 Kat and Tiffany did the cutest collaboration involving contemporary and fantasy book recommendations.
📒 Taasia prepared a helpful list of Asian book recommendations that’s sure to be useful for YARC participants.
📝 Aside from featuring great blog posts in my monthly synopses, I also want to direct the spotlight towards incredible book bloggers who deserve all the recognition and love in the world! This month’s featured blogger is Julianna from Paper Blots! We recently did a buddy read, and I thoroughly enjoyed talking to her. Go and check out her awesome content!
📒 Lists & discussions: Fairytales/Myths/Folklore that should be in more YA retellings | Things I want to see in the book community
EVERYTHING ELSE IN A NUTSHELL
ON LOOKING BACK
Personally, January was really quite ✨ An Experience ✨ — one that involved a lot more busyness than I anticipated (seriously, my bullet journal is still an embarrassing blank and I feel like a total failure right now) and definitely a lot more impulsiveness I usually don’t allow myself to pursue.
Ultimately, however, I’d like to believe that the good parts heavily outweighed the bad: I now have a wonderfully sunflowery blog I can genuinely be proud of, I have five blog tours lined up for the year (and I’m still awaiting confirmation for the rest — AHH!!! — so keep your fingers crossed), my relationships with most people* have improved, I now have more free time to spend with my friends, I’ve finally gotten my drive to create new content back, and for the first time in a long time, I am genuinely content.
* Exception: my
bitchy af grandmother
I am also incredibly thankful to have had so many incredible opportunities given to me, both in my so-called ✨ blogging career ✨ and in real life. In case y’all haven’t heard, I will be going to Malaysia* with Kate** to present my paper on communication and vaccine hesitancy in a research conference!
* If you’re a blogger based in Malaysia and you want to maybe meet up or something, you are more than welcome to hit me up here or on Twitter. I would love to meet you!
** True friendship goals is your friend offering to accompany you in a foreign country simply because you are a terrified little hoe who has never solo-traveled out of the country. Get yourself a Kate.
Additionally, one of my current research proposals has been tentatively approved(!!!) — and I am really ecstatic about this because this study involves a lot of traveling provincially and doing fieldwork, which, so far, I haven’t really had the chance to do in my degree program.
ON MOVING FORWARD
If I am being honest, February is shaping up to be quite a busy month as well. Nevertheless, I am still pretty (yet cautiously) optimistic about accomplishing some work and content that I’ve been dying to finish for my blog. In all seriousness, my contact page is still an alarming blank — and that needs to be addressed as soon as possible.
Aside from refining my blog, I am also hoping to publish content that I’ve been low-key, semi-secretly working on for a while. I am a little bit hesitant about sharing them openly now (because plagiarism and stealing ideas and blah blah), but I would also like to be held accountable. Plus, I would love to know your thoughts regarding these ideas — like if you’re looking forward to them or if you think they’d be helpful to you — out of curiosity and maybe who knows, your enthusiasm might just give me the motivation to write more quickly (cough, cough).
Here are a few posts that will hopefully be up on my blog before February ends:
1. How to build an extensive TBR of Asian books (ft. a free spreadsheet of [Redacted])
2. The [Redacted] Blogger’s Guide to Rebranding
3. [Redacted] Sapphic romances that’ll make your heart soft on Valentine’s Day
I’d love to hear from you!
🌻 How was your first month of 2019? (Psst, did you write a wrap-up post for January? Leave the link in the comment section below and I’ll check it out as soon as I can!)
🌻 Are any of the books I intend to read for February also on your TBR for the month?
🌻 What are your thoughts on the post ideas I shared? What type of content would you like to see on my blog? Is there anything specific you would like me to write about?