In my last monthly synopsis, I talked about how I was dreading my own birth month because it’s usually a hectic time for me. To my surprise, the good things in August severely outweighed the bad. It was a month of huge milestones for me. But how did September fare in comparison?
In a nutshell, it’s been a September of plentiful planning but minimal reading. But more importantly, while August was filled with personal milestones, September was brimming with serendipitous opportunities and unexpected obsessions. In other words, it’s been a really good and immensely fortunate month for me. Hence, I’m extra excited to write this wrap-up post!
MY MONTH IN BOOKS
– ON WHAT I READ –
I kept my September TBR pile very small because I wanted to focus my energy on my ✨🍃🌷 spring cleaning 🌷🍃✨ efforts. Moreover, I’ve been turning to Netflix and YouTube for escapism and comfort, instead of books. True enough, I finished a fewer number of books than my usual range of 10 to 20. Specifically, I read and finished a total of six books this month.
For the nth time, I failed to get started on The Poppy War. I think I’ve finally come to terms that the ongoing pandemic has made it difficult for me to pick up books that involve heavy, dark, and/or triggering content. More often than not, I’ve been seeking stories that are more lighthearted.
But on the bright side, I did a lot better in sticking to my monthly TBR. In addition, I thoroughly enjoyed all my September reads!
📚 Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko // Raybearer has drastically raised my standards for YA fantasy. From its clever subversion of tired YA tropes (e.g. absentee parent, love triangle, “chosen one”) to its thoughtful examination of themes (e.g. imperialism, fragile masculinity, intergenerational trauma) to its perfectly paced plot, Jordan Ifueko’s debut is undeniably a masterpiece. I’m still in awe. // Read my review
📚 Iron Heart by Nina Varela // Second book syndrome? Not found anywhere in the vicinity! Iron Heart fiercely tugged on my heartstrings and my moral compass. This was such a powerful, gorgeous ending for a duology that’s captured the hearts of so many readers. // Read my review
📚 I’ll Be the One by Lyla Lee // I’m glad that I waited until I fell into the rabbit hole of BTS before I picked this one up. Because it definitely allowed me to appreciate the references more — and yes, okay, I smiled every time BTS was mentioned. I’ll Be the One is a fun, body-positive book with a delightfully awkward romance between two clueless bisexuals. // Read my review
📚 Hunted by the Sky by Tanaz Bhathena // I listened to the audiobook of Hunted by the Sky, and I was really let down by the male narrator’s performance. Thankfully, I recently received a print copy of this book and I’m looking forward to giving that one a go. // Read my review
📚 The Wolf of Oren-yaro by K.S. Villoso // Me being my usual forgetful self, I decided to reread The Wolf of Oren-yaro before diving into its sequel. And much like the first time, this book tired me out to epic proportions. And I loved it. // Read my review
📚 The Ikessar Falcon by K.S. Villoso // Reading this for the first time provoked a lot of strong emotions in me. The Ikessar Falcon is a brilliantly crafted expansion of Villoso’s fantasy world and an unapologetic continuation of the ‘nothing ever works out for Talyien’ saga. In a lot of ways, The Ikessar Falcon outshines its predecessor. But personally, I’m still mad about the way this sequel bullied my favorite character. // Read my review
– ON WHAT I WILL READ –
For October, I’m limiting my TBR to just a few titles. I’m expecting October to be even more hectic than August and September combined. So, realistically, I won’t be able to dedicate much time to reading.
MY MONTH IN BLOGGING
– ON WHAT I WROTE –
📝 For a lot of us, blogging isn’t a full-time job. This is why my mantra is always to create with clear intent and purpose. Here are 6 important questions that I ask before writing a blog post.
📝 Are you against supporting Disney’s live-action adaptation of Mulan? Here is a list of book recommendations that you can read instead! The best part? These are all books written by Chinese authors.
📝 Is there a way to maximize your Scribd free trial? Yes, there is! And I wrote a whole blog post about it.
📝 I also announced a huge read-along that I’m hosting for Jade City by Fonda Lee. It’s already begun, but it’s not too late to join in on the fun! (Plus, we have the most fun hashtag: #KeepingUpWithTheKauls.)
📝 I wrote a list of recommendations for K-pop romance novels that will make your fandom heart flutter. And yes, this was inspired by my newfound love for BTS.
📝 Affordable but still undeniably gorgeous blog themes — do they exist? Yes!
📝 Finally, I recently wrote bullet reviews for three adult romance novels that sparked joy and comfort in my heart.
– ON WHAT I SHARED ON SOCIAL MEDIA –
🔔 Embarrassingly, I squealed about my crush hyping up my blog after seeing it for the first time. On Twitter. I’m an embarrassing ball of uwu. 🥺
🔔 I challenged myself to fill my book cart with Filipino-authored books I own. The results? I think I did pretty well! Here’s your gentle reminder that you should support Filipino authors all year round.
🔔 I woke up to find that I’m mentioned in Fonda Lee’s latest author newsletter. Send help. I fainted.
🔔 I also bought my first-ever bookshelf for my bedroom, as well as my first iPhone with my own savings! Having grown up without bookshelves and with cheap android phones, this is sort of, kind of a huge moment for me.
🔔 I revealed that I’m working on an incredible collaboration with Camillea. I’m very excited! Hopefully, it’ll launch in October.
🔔 Speaking of collaborations, I was interviewed by Krisha from Bookathon — and I had so much fun with her great questions. I was also a special guest on The Ikessar Falcon live show hosted by the trihoes.
🔔 More recently, my new ring light arrived. It’s prompted me to maybe consider starting a YouTube channel for books, Notion, as well as my other obsessions. Can y’all imagine me as a vlogger? 🎥
🔔 After nearly two months of casual job-hunting
(because a part of me likes the idea of being an unemployed bum for the remainder of the year), I finally got a job offer that I like and I won’t be unemployed any longer. 🥳
– ON WHAT I FOUND INTERESTING ONLINE –
📌 I love checking out book recommendations! Nini shared a list of 10 Latinx foodie books, Fanna highlighted 5 of her favorite poetry collections, while Kal put together a great resource for spooky book recommendations.
📌 Abi offered some insight regarding the problems with ARCs that are rarely talked about. “Free” early copies of books aren’t exactly the dream they’re advertised as.
📌 Emme wrote an interesting post about being a book blogger who doesn’t write book reviews.
📌 Prutha discussed the racism and cultural appropriation in children’s books and classics.
📌 I loved this recommendation post from Alexx! On her blog, she recommended books based on BTS songs. Her picks are definitely spot-on.
📌 Chana wrote a lovely PSA to people who keep promoting books by their favorite white authors.
📌 Kate has an amazing and insightful post entitled: mind your own (art) business, which I’m still thinking about.
📌 As someone who creates content on multiple platforms, Fadwa definitely has great insights on book blogging vs. booktube.
EVERYTHING ELSE IN A NUTSHELL
– ON LOOKING BACK –
In my August synopsis, I was hoping that September would be a comfortable, leisurely paced month. That did not happen at all! Instead, it was chaotic in a really wonderful, serendipitous way. Although there was a brief bump in the first half of September that negatively impacted my mental health and productivity, the rest of the month was filled with so many amazing things!
Here are several things that I’m incredibly grateful for:
🌷 I finally found an organization method that works perfectly for me! Planning and organizing are essential components of my life, especially in maintaining my mental well-being. For the longest time, I’ve struggled with maintaining a bullet journal and jumping back-and-forth between multiple productivity apps. Notion has really changed the game for me. Plus, I am now part of a tiny clique where we all hype up each other’s Notion setups: Aentee, Joel, May, Kate, Lily, Alexandra, Skye, Fadwa, Breana, Abbie, Maha, Rain, and Lauren. (Not a secret: I love them all so much. 💛)
🌷 My blog’s stats really boomed in September, nearly doubling in terms of views (12.7k), visitors (5.8k), and engagement (around 600 likes and comments). Although numbers aren’t the be-all and end-all of blogging, they do reassure me that my 8-month hiatus didn’t permanently hurt my platform and my value as a blogger. Huge, huge thank you to everyone who still reads my blog and engages with my content! 🥰
🌷 I have an upcoming virtual panel for Literary and Publishing Trade Conversations (LitPub), which is organized by the National Book Development Board. More specifically, I’m doing a panel about diversity in literature, alongside Salve from Cuckoo for Books and KB from Bookbed. We just finished filming a few days ago, and I can’t wait for our discussion to be released in November!
🌷 I’ve been blessed with a lot of freelance gigs throughout the month of September. And I still have a couple more lined up for October. Financial stability is really precarious during this pandemic. I understand how difficult it’s been to stay afloat, and I’m very fortunate (and privileged) to have access to many opportunities.
🌷 I’ve also made several big purchases for myself, and it feels really amazing. Growing up in a family that lives from paycheck to paycheck, frugality had been instilled in me at an early age. Even throughout my college years, my idea of ✨ splurging on myself ✨ was buying a McFlurry sundae from McDo or treating myself to the spicy pecho with unlimited rice from Mang Inasal. But I digress. I recently purchased a huge bookshelf for my bedroom, a brand new iPhone, and some furniture so that I can set up a proper work area in my room. I’m quite proud of myself!
🌷 Of course, I need to dedicate a bullet point to BTS, who have given me abundant joy over the past weeks. I’ve been listening to Dynamite, Spring Day, and Stay Gold on a daily basis. And it’s really helped in lifting my mood. (And before anyone asks, Taehyung is my personal favorite.)
🌷 One of the most serendipitous things that have happened to me this month is the great job offer that I was not expecting. In conversations with my friends, I’ve always described my job-hunting as “casual and passive” because I’m not in a rush to gain employment. A lot of my family’s usual big expenses (like our education and my living-away-from-home) have decreased since I graduated and my sisters both earned full scholarships. So, I was applying for jobs mostly out of a sense of obligation to my parents. But honestly, I was planning to stay unemployed and rely on freelance opportunities until the end of the year. (I know. I’ve been enjoying the bum life too much.)
Most of these listed items are either unexpected opportunities that happily fell into my lap or things that I accidentally stumbled upon. For instance, my new bookshelf was an accidental find by my dad during one of his errands. It was on sale for 2,000 PHP (or roughly 40 USD). A steal! He sent me photos and asked if I wanted to buy it. But I digress.
September was really kind and good to me. Throughout the month, it just felt like all sorts of things were falling into place with very minimal effort on my part. Having graduated into a global health crisis that’s led to an economic recession, I genuinely believed that things could only go further downhill. I’ve been trying my hardest to push away the fears, insecurities, and anxieties caused by this uncertain time.
With that said, I’m just in awe of how blessed and fortunate I am. There are still a lot of things that I have yet to figure out, especially in terms of my career path and my plans for 2021. Nonetheless, I feel that I’m moving towards the right direction — and it’s a beautiful feeling to draw comfort from.
– ON MOVING FORWARD –
October is shaping up to be my busiest month for this year! It’s definitely the opposite of what I expected the remainder of 2020 would be for me. Part of me is feeling overwhelmed and panicky. But a bigger part of me is excited for the next chapter of my life!
Here are some of my plans and goals for this month:
☘ My stint as a corporate slave starts in mid-October! In other words, I’m going to be a working adult. Honestly, I’m intimidated by the bureaucracy that I need to face in order to secure my documents, IDs, insurance, and whatnot. But on a brighter note, I’m really excited about the role, and I can’t wait to learn a lot from seasoned professionals.
☘ I have to complete a month-long research engagement. Literally, the day before I received the job offer, I agreed to take on a handsomely paid research writing gig from one of my university professors. The topic falls under crisis communication and Philippine politics, so it’s very timely and relevant.
☘ I’m finally going to take the exam and get my driver’s license. This is something that I’ve been putting off for many, many years — to my parents’ chagrin — simply because I have zero confidence in my driving ability. However, my dad’s adamant about getting my license before my first day of work… so I guess I don’t have a say anymore.
☘ I’m starting a shiny new blog post series in collaboration with Camillea! It’s a huge, long-term project that I’m very excited about. I can’t wait to unveil it to all of you soon.
☘ I will be setting up an Instagram shop to sell my pre-loved books and to give away some of my physical ARCs. I’m committed to filling up my new bookshelf with books that spark joy, so it makes sense for me to get rid of my unhauled titles. (Shout-out to my September spring cleaning for motivating me to unhaul and declutter!)
☘ I am also hoping to release the rest of my book tour sign-ups before October ends. As much as I love Caffeine Book Tours, the admin work involved in organizing tours has been really exhausting. With very little reward in terms of monetary compensation. Truthfully, what was once a passion project has now turned into something that’s slowly been making me unhappy. And I just want to get everything done so I can take a real, proper break from book tours.
☘ The read-along for the Green Bone saga begins this month. I strongly recommend that you join in!
I won’t lie to you. I’m really, really apprehensive about how October will impact my mental health. I’m most concerned about balancing my future corporate work deliverables and contractual research engagement. And on top of these, I have seven upcoming book tours for October.
After a lot of thought, I think I might have to cut back on blogging and social media to compensate for my increased workload, as well as to protect my own welfare. Initially, I had 11 blog posts planned for this month. In fact, I had my content planned until the start of December. However, due to this unforeseen change in my life, I will have to overhaul my content calendar and limit the number of posts I release per month.
I hate the idea of stifling myself and adhering to a rigid schedule. But I think that this is the best way to stop myself from biting more than I can chew. Fingers crossed!
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I’d love to hear from you!
🌻 How was your September? And what are your plans for October?
🌻 I’ve been talking about my latest obsession with BTS so often lately. Have you discovered or stumbled a newfound interest?
🌻 Now that I’m transitioning from unemployed bum to corporate worker ant, I’m in desperate need of advice. Do you have any tips on maintaining a healthy work-life balance?