You may be wondering what’s happened to me. Or you may have stumbled across an email alerting you to this post and thought, “Oh, it’s been a while since I last heard from Shealea.”
In any case, I haven’t written any blog posts since my monthly synopsis for January. And I’m about to explain why. With that, take a seat, get cozy, and let’s run through the highlights of February 2022 together, shall we?
MY MONTH IN BOOKS
To recap, I marveled over the bewildering fact that I read twenty books in January. Which isn’t a typical occurrence for me — what with being a sluggish, moody reader and all. So, you can imagine the shocked Pikachu meme expression on my face when it dawned on me that I read a whopping total of twenty-six (26!!!) books in February. 😭 (< Are these tears of joy or tears of incredulity? We will never know.)
Not to sound dramatic, but this is the most I’ve read in a month ever. And amidst all the excited shaking and throwing up (figuratively), I must admit that this milestone came at a very steep cost. It’s a classic case of quantity over quality. Or in simpler words: I read a lot of books that I ended up not liking at all.
In fact, if you follow me on social media (particularly on Twitter), then you may have seen a joke or two about my growing roster of 1-star reads. Which is sort of, kind of accurate. Overall, I rated 8 of my 26 reads (31%) with a measly star. Although it’s a small percentage in the larger picture of things, these books left a strong, distasteful impression that outshined the rest of my reads.
– ON WHAT I READ –
📚 Foul Lady Fortune by Chloe Gong // Easily the best read of my month! Set in 1930s Shanghai, this novel delivers an explosively compelling story with action-packed scenes, terrifying government conspiracies, and an irresistible romance between two spies. Plus, a fake marriage steeped in angst, secrets, and delicious tension. Orion is a lovable oaf, and he’s bound to capture everyone’s hearts. Highest of recommendations! // Read my review
📚 Take A Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert // I binged The Brown Sisters trilogy within the same week, and Dani Brown shined the brightest for me. Coworkers to friends-with-benefits to lovers with a generous helping of grumpy/sunshine dynamic. This book was equal parts hilarious and heartwarming. Highly recommended! // Read my review
📚 The Half God of Rainfall by Inua Ellams // Narrated by the author himself, the audiobook packed a powerful punch. Artfully weaving pantheons of gods into modern-day mortal life, this novel in verse follows a half-Nigerian, half-Grecian demigod whose abilities catapult him into basketball fame. However, at its heart, this is a story about women — their trauma, their resilience, and their magnificent wrath. Highly recommended! // Read my review
📚 Someone Who Will Love You In All Your Damaged Glory by Raphael Bob-Waksberg // As a huge fan of Bojack Horseman, I went into this collection of creative short stories with high hopes. Although some stories, unfortunately, missed their mark for me, I found myself highlighting countless passages that resonated with me. Humor and whimsy aside, this book is thought-provoking and wonderfully weird. Recommended for days when you need reminding that love comes in many forms. // Read my review
📚 Four Aunties and a Wedding by Jesse Q. Sutanto // As someone who owns multiple copies of Dial A for Aunties, no one is more disappointed in this sequel than me. Much more over-the-top chaotic and unbelievable than its predecessor, this book failed to deliver the same charm and magic. The humorous bits were too far and few in between. In fact, if anything, reading this was extremely stressful for me. Not recommended. // Read my review
📚 Honor Bound by Rachel Caine & Ann Aguirre // Another disappointing sequel. As of writing, I remain confused, baffled, and utterly flabbergasted by its twists and turns. With so many add-ons to the original threat, the plot became messy and convoluted. My reading experience felt like a fever dream. Not recommended. // Read my review
📚 Loveboat Reunion by Abigail Hing Wen // Xavier Yeh was my absolute favorite from Loveboat, Taipei. I was very thrilled that he got his own book! While he remained lovable and adorably misunderstood in this companion novel, I found everything and everyone else so insufferable in comparison. Especially Sophie Ha. This was too boring, contrived, and ‘girlboss gaslight gatekeep’-y for my taste. Not recommended. // Read my review
📚 A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas // I genuinely had no intention of ever picking up an SJM book in my life. But then I was offered monetary compensation. Long story short, I deeply hated this book. But at least I got a paid article out of it. 😜 (By the way, if you’d like for me to read the succeeding books, feel free to ask for my rates. 😂) // Read my review
📚 The Infinity Courts by Akemi Dawn Bowman // Despite its deliciously fascinating premise of a cyberpunk afterlife and a Siri-turned-rogue, the book’s execution left a lot to be desired. There was a lot of repetitiveness and horrendous pacing. Plus, I am absolutely not a fan of Nami Miyamato and her weird colonizer-colonized kumbaya nonsense. No plans of continuing the series. Not recommended. // Read my review
📚 Ice Planet Barbarians by Ruby Dixon // Let it be known that I did not dive into this book expecting Pulitzer-winning writing. Encouraged by my friends’ recommendations, I picked this up in search of mindless entertainment and vibes. But sadly, despite the supposedly sexy blue aliens with ridged dicks, I was bored out of my mind. I truly cannot trust anyone these days. (Just kidding, friends!) // Read my review
… AND THE OTHER BOOKS I’VE READ THIS MONTH.
Click on the book covers to read my reviews and final impressions! 🥰
– ON WHAT I DID NOT FINISH –
Believe it or not, my reading month could’ve been a lot worse if I chose to power through every single book that I picked up. Thankfully, I had enough sense to give up on these four titles. (And as an FYI, I rate unfinished books, provided that I read at least until the halfway mark.)
– ON WHAT I WILL READ –
I’m not sure if it’s wise to still post a TBR, considering that we’re more than halfway through the month of March. As of writing this post, I’ve already finished 16 books, and I’m currently going back-and-forth between six reads. Oof.
So far, I’ve noticed that my attention span has gotten really weird again. As such, I can’t seem to focus on a single book. Instead, I have to fumble my way through multiple, simultaneous books, depending on my mood, level of stress, and amount of free time. With that, below are my current reads — plus a few titles that I’ve been eyeing this month.
MY MONTH IN MEDIA
While my reading skyrocketed even more in February, my media consumption of films and series declined. In fact, I watched a staggering total of zero films. Oops. I just didn’t have the attention span for them. However, on a brighter note, I thoroughly enjoyed the few shows that I did make time for. 🥰
– ON WHAT I WATCHED –
🎬 Feel Good (2020-2021) // I’ve already mentioned this Netflix series because I finished the first season in January. And I’m ecstatic to report that the second and final season was amazing, too! Following our favorite pair of messy sapphics, the show became more introspective and more expansive, especially as supporting characters played larger roles in the story.
A humorous, albeit poignant and painful, commentary on human vulnerability and mental health. I can’t perfectly capture my thoughts about this series, but it’s definitely one that I’ll keep thinking about.
🎬 Arcane (2021-) // Encouraged by high praises from friends, I watched the first season with my little sister. On top of the spectacular animation and voiceover (kudos to the whole team!), the storylines and character arcs were very compelling. I couldn’t keep my eyes off the screen. Not even for a moment.
I am obsessed with the steampunk aesthetic of this fantasy world. I also really enjoyed the questions prompted by the series: What is the cost of innovation? Who truly benefit from progress — and who are left in the margins? What makes a hero, and perhaps more importantly, what makes a villain? Truly deserving of the hype and recognition!
🎬 One of Us Is Lying (2021-) // Despite not having read the book, I watched the whole first season with bookish friends (s/o to Kate, Ysa, and Klauds!). And I have to admit that I found a lot of entertainment in this series. Even though it was mostly at Bronwyn’s expense.
Listen. This adaptation was unfathomably stupid, most of the characters were similarly dense, and Bronwyn was downright unbearable as a protagonist. But would I voluntarily watch the second season? Maybe.
MY MONTH IN BLOGGING
– ON WHAT I WROTE OUTSIDE THE BLOG –
📝 With more and more BIPOC authors bringing fresh perspectives on well-loved classics and fairytales, I compiled a short list of their sci-fi and fantasy retellings.
📝 Speculative fiction can be delightfully introspective. If you’re in the mood for contemplation, I also wrote a list of character-focused SFF books that you can sink your teeth into.
📝 And finally, my favorite article to date: 10 book recommendations that passed my ACOTAR vibe check. Be sure to check this one out!
– ON WHAT I SHARED ON SOCIAL MEDIA –
🔔 I’m currently running a fundraiser to help support my tita’s medical bills for her cancer treatment. If you have cash to spare, you can send your donation via PayPal. And sharing this tweet is a huge help as well!
🔔 Are you looking for more bloggers to follow? Check out the replies to this tweet. We love to see book bloggers who are proud of their work. 🥰
🔔 For fans of Chloe Gong, here’s a small, non-spoilery snippet from Foul Lady Fortune that you can look forward to.
🔔 In light of Valentine’s Day, I did a surprise boyfriend reveal on social media! Not clickbait. 👀
– ON WHAT I FOUND INTERESTING ONLINE –
📌 Pages Unbound (by Krysta and Briana) is my go-to place for insightful discussions and commentary on everything bookish. Among their recent posts, I really enjoyed ‘Are Book Subscription Boxes Bad for the Environment?‘ and ‘5 Myths about Book Blogging‘.
📌 Nicole wrote a beautiful post surrounding the question: Why are book bloggers so hard on themselves? I recommend giving her post a read if you need a kind reminder that all book bloggers are amazing, passionate human beings.
📌 Did you love Netflix’s adaptation of Arcane as much as I did? Mackenzie compiled a list of book recommendations that might appeal to you.
📌 Lay shared how they managed to read 30 books in 31 days, which I found very insightful without feeling pressured to boost my reading.
📌 Speaking of, Maria touched on the pressure to write book reviews — specifically experienced by book bloggers.
📌 If you love books that portray sibling relationships as much as I do, then check out Marie’s YA recommendations that feature sisters.
📌 Riv has a super fun series called ‘playlisting my shelf’, and I enjoyed her attempt at matching love songs to book couples.
EVERYTHING ELSE IN A NUTSHELL
– ON LOOKING BACK –
Honestly, February passed through like a fever dream, if anything. Much of my focus and attention were preoccupied with work. Especially as I began to ponder over my career progression — and what that looked like to me. I’ve been working the same job for a year and a half now. While I won’t claim to know the nooks and crannies of media and advertising, I can’t deny that I’ve started feeling restless.
Outside of work, I’ve also been worrying about avenues for growth in other aspects of my life. Oftentimes, I find myself asking the question, “What’s next?” — only to draw the exact same conclusion. Which is that, truth be told, there’s not much for me to look forward to. And this disheartening realization has negatively impacted my life perspective in ways that I’m not too comfortable disclosing here. All of this is to say that I took a step back from blogging because I spent February feeling uninspired and sorry for myself.
Nonetheless, despite the bad, there were still bits of good sprinkled throughout my month. In fact, if there’s anything that February reminded me, it’s that I’m surrounded by the most wonderful friends. 🥰 Anyway, as per my usual format, below are a few things that I’m thankful for!
🌷 I’ve started working out consistently! My current record is at 23 days. Which is a personal milestone for me because I tend to lose steam after the first week. Plus, there’s the added challenge of squeezing in 40 to 60 minutes of exercises on longer-than-usual work days.
🌷 I’ve also made some headway into my online learning goals.
🌷 Watch parties, video calls, and catch-ups with friends. I’m really grateful for the tiny pockets of fun and sanity.
– ON MOVING FORWARD –
I only have goal for March: getting through it and surviving. I’ve quickly learned that the first quarter of the year is an extremely hectic time in my field of work, second only to the holiday season.
With that, I have no delusions about jumping right back into blogging. Much like February, I just hope to take things day by day. 😊
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Thank you for reading!
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I’d love to hear from you!
🌻 How was your February? And what are your plans for March?
🌻 Help me find more films and series to watch this month! Leave your recommendations in the comments. (Bonus points if they’re available on Netflix. 😅)
🌻 What do you do on days that you feel overwhelmed and restless?