I was not a fan of Jaigirdar’s debut, The Henna Wars, so I wasn’t expecting too much when I went into Hani and Ishu. But I was thoroughly surprised. Adiba Jaigirdar has improved a lot in her writing and story-telling! It was so sweet and fun! I even drew some fanart of Hani and Ishu!
June Hur’s newest book was released in April! I’ve been following her on twitter for quite some time now so I decided to finally get down and read her debut book! Korean period dramas have always been fascinating to me because the history is really interesting, and Bones was really thrilling! It reminded me of a K-drama I watched a few years back because of Cha Eunwoo. (Rookie Historian Goo Haeryung) The drama was rooted more in fantasy, but the plot elements were similar which I really enjoyed.
I managed to read 5 books this month! But this might be my most disappointing reading month yet. March is always a weird month for me. Celebrating another birthday in lockdown doesn’t help either, but my sister and brother-in-law bought me an iPad so I’ve started drawing again! I’m really excited to practise and improve so I can draw all the head canons my heart desires. My current loves right now are Jujutsu Kaisen and SK8 the infinity so they were my obvious first drawings. (Sorry, Miwa but I want a selfie with gojo too…) I’ll be posting more art stuff on twitter to show progress!
During February, I managed to read 5 books! This month has basically been revolved around looking for a new job, which has damped my reading mood. My current TBR is mainly fantasy books which has sort of pushed me into a reading slump right now because I feel like I’m not in the mindset to properly appreciate the details in them. Plus, I’ve slowly fallen into the JJK (jujutsu kaisen) fandom so that’s my current brain rot right now. And SK8 the Infinity.
Jujutsu Kaisen (volume 0 -> current chapter) by Gege Akutami – I started watching the anime earlier this year because of a Tik Tok, and when I tell you, I’ve never been so obsessed with something so quickly. Even my cousin was shocked to see that I had read all the chapter so quickly. I absolutely adored this manga, from the art to the fight scenes, and the story is just so well-done!
Counting Down with You by Tashie Bhuiyan – Look out for this one when it’s released! I’m trying to get myself back into reading contemporary novels and CDWY was a great one. So, so sweet!
Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé – From my upcoming review: “Gossip Girl meets Get Out in this dangerous debut that highlights everyday and institutional racism. It is intriguing and well written. It takes you on one hell of a ride as it challenges white supremacy embedded in academia.”
She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan – A standout debut! Quite possibly the best book I will read this year! A fantastic reimagining of the founding emperor of the Ming Dynasty.
Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo – As I mentioned, my onslaught of fantasy books I’m reading right now ended up causing me to feel really overwhelmed. So I randomly went through my contemporary TBR and picked this one out at random! I absolutely loved The Poet X, so it was no surprised that I enjoyed Clap When You Land as well!
Check out Saniya’s first discussion post about re-reading books! Personally, I would love to re-read some of my favourite books but time is never on my side. Plus, like Saniya, part of me fears that the magic from the first read just isn’t there anymore.
I don’t read Middle Grade often unless it’s from an author I’m familiar with but The Quiet Pond never fails when it comes to recommendations! I’m really interested in Amari and the Night Brothers by B.B. Alston!
I’m obsessed with the Brown sisters trilogy so I just wanted to share Riza’s review of the second book in the series!
That’s it for this month! Tell me what went on in YOUR life this month! What sort of things was important for you this month? New obsessions? New TV shows? Or book? Any new song recs (I’m always open to new music!)? Best books you read this month?
I actually surprised myself by reading 15 books this month. I have never read this much in a month, but I chalk it up to the UK being on its third lockdown. And now that I’ve graduated, all I can do it look for graduate jobs and read. It feel weird having this much time to read, but I quite enjoyed most of the books I read this month!
Six of Crows – I have finally read Six of Crows! I had bought a copy back when it was released but I hadn’t finished the Grisha Trilogy yet. So this book slowly fell down my TBR list because I had taken so long to read the first series. I didn’t like the trilogy that much, but I can definitely see the improvement in SOC. Pray I don’t take four years to read its sequel.
Loveboat, Taipei – I have really surprised myself this year with reading more contemporary novels and actually enjoying them for once! Loveboat was so good!
The Chosen – Eh, a little disappointing considering I have enjoyed reading Matharu’s previous series with my cousin.
Remnants of the Atonement – First DNF of the year 😦 I requested an arc because of a reddit post, but now I feel like I’ve been bamboozled.
Get a Life, Chloe Brown – “Yours, Red.” Two damn words and I was a MESS. Damn, who is this person I’ve become that suddenly enjoys contemporary.
The Song of Achilles (RE-READ) – I have been playing too much of Supergiant’s Hades. I’ve been desperately trying to reunite Patroclus and Achilles in-game, but it’s hard because I can never seem to find the room where Patroclus can be found.
I was contemplating writing this post for a while because as I reflected on this year, I felt very underwhelmed about this whole year that it almost didn’t feel worth it. But I thought, “you know what, f— it let’s look back at this mess of a year.” I haven’t even written a monthly rewind post in over a year; my reading challenge was in shambles. While it’s been one stressful year, I’ve felt pretty much disappointed in myself throughout, so I thought reflecting would be a great way to make me more accountable and strive to do better for the next year.
L I F E
I began this year buried under paperwork; my Snapchat memories tell me I was quite literally spending the first days of 2020 in the library, working on my dissertation. In between crying over my mess of a dissertation, I worked part-time and prepared for post-grad life. I realise I never really spoke about my university experience here, apart from mentioning that I attend one. But I studied BA Sociology at university. My university experience was relatively lacklustre, I struggled quite mentally through the three years, and my course had its ups and downs. But I was quite pleased with my final dissertation. It was titled “Devout, devoid, and everything in-between”: Challenging stereotypical portrayals in select Young Adult Contemporary novels.” It was a thematic analysis examining three young adult novels on two interrelated aims: exploring media representation of Muslims and Islam and examining theoretical ideas on how societal perception of Islam affects Muslims’ portrayal. As I near my sixth anniversary of this site, I don’t think seventeen-year-old me would have ever thought this random passion blog would have ever affected my life to the point where I would write a whole dissertation based on my experience and work on the internet.
And I think like most people this year, as we all entered various forms of lockdown, my energy to do more quickly dwindled. During the UK’s first lockdown, I spend hours writing my dissertation while spending the nights playing Animal Crossing and Kingdom Hearts. Here in the UK, we have gone through multiple lockdowns already, now following a tier system. As I write this, I’m currently furloughed in a tier 4 city. I’m glad I’m able to stay safe at home, but I can’t help but feel sad about the effect this year has had on my productivity and mental state. I was so sure I would smash my reading challenge, catch up on all my arcs, and finally create more content.
I was so prepared to apply for all these work experiences and internships. But this year has reminded me to take things slow, and it’s okay not to be productive all the time. I graduated with a 1st in my degree. It was such an exciting achievement for me notably because I’ve never achieved high grades all my life, hovering around the Bs and Cs from secondary school to college and partially through university. My mental state wasn’t all great during university, I was worried that I wouldn’t even pass with a 2:1 at one point, but I’m grateful I managed to pull through in the end. It’s a shame I won’t have a proper graduation, but I’m just thankful to have pulled through in the end.
In place of my December Monthly Rewind, I decided to do a Year Rewind instead. (Partly because I actually haven’t done anything this month apart from cry over unwritten essays and dissertations – May is so close, yet so far…) If you don’t check out my Monthly Rewinds, I showcase the books I’ve read and the music I’ve listened to throughout the year. And for today’s post, I want to highlight the best books I’ve read this year, showcases some of my non-reviews posts and share some of my most listened to songs throughout the year! Similar to my favourite blogging moments, but without the questions and now including some stats from Goodreads!
According to Goodreads, I read 26,224 pages across 80 books. This has probably my lowest reading challenge ever. I intentionally went for 80 rather than my usual 100 because university really took a toll out of me this year. My book promise was to read outside my comfort zone and I don’t even think I managed to do that, sticking to YA and whatever sounded best to me. Mentally, I was not okay and it really reflected in the books I could make myself read and the posts I was making. I don’t like talking so negatively but I honestly cannot wait for university to be over. I have so much I want to do that I feel like university wasn’t really the right choice for me but I pushed myself through it anyway. Anyway, let’s get started. I don’t think I had many standout reads this year. I had initially planned to make this book top nine since it’s the end of 2019 but I found myself struggling to really pick a book and say this one truly brought me joy this year, which I why I whittled them down to six books.
B O O K S
The first is Love From A To Z by S.K. Ali. I was invited to be a part of the blog tour earlier this year and I was literally jumping for joy when I got the email. I absolutely loved Ali’s work and having the opportunity to read such a great YA book that was so refreshing to read was a moment I’ll remember for a long time. You can read my blog tour post here!
My second choice, weirdly enough, was a book from 2014.Gates of Thread and Stone is one of those books that was all the hype back in 2014 apparently, and I just so happened to miss it by a year and it flew completely under my radar until someone on Twitter posted a cover earlier this year and I immediately fell in love. It’s a funny one because the plot and the fact that it follows a lot of cheesy YA conventions made it so surprising that I enjoyed it that much. I do wish I discovered this one earlier though, I know 2014 me would’ve appreciated it a lot.
My third choice is no surprise to anyone who knows me. Sword and Pen is the final book in the Great Library series. I’ve mentioned this enough times on here on how much Rachel Caine has influenced me in my journey of becoming a reader and a writer. Being able to experience another one of her series come to an end was rather bittersweet but amazing. A lot of readers will recognise Rachel from the Morganville Vampires series and the Great Library series is a true testament on how much she has improved in her skill. If you need a YA series to read, this is the one. Normally, I’m very picky over books, my favourites of all time tend to not be my favourite for long but this series has had my heart for so long, I don’t think anything will come to replace it.
My fourth choice blew me away. Summer Bird Blue was a book where I found myself truly in tears at the end. I don’t consider myself a person who get physically emotional, so I was partly in shock at myself when I finished reading this one. It was so emotional and intense and the way music is used to deal with grief is something else.
The next two choices are part of a series which should be no surprise to anyone. My fifth choice is Jade City by Fonda Lee. Jade City is such a epic novel which is such a different book that I don’t often look out for. Since this year was pretty poorly for me, I didn’t branch out in terms of reading choices. So when I saw Shealea promote the next book in the series Jade War, I decided to bite the bullet and try the book out. Honestly, I say this seriously, but this book is a masterpiece. A forever favourite book. And the sixth, and final choice, wasJade War, the sequel to Jade City. “The sheer joy I experienced from reading this novel is something that can’t be easily replicated” From my blog tour post. This series has seriously grabbed me by the throat, and I don’t know if I’ll ever let this one go.
M U S I C
Reflecting back on my music choices through Ask.fm this year really made me realise how boring my music taste. I don’t really have a set genre I listen to because my music taste essentially is: If it sounds good, I’ll listen. Judging by my last.fm, I feel like K-pop has jumped up the list a considerable amount, which is mainly due to the fact I tend to listen to my kpop girl group playlist in between short journeys where I don’t want to use my data to listen to other songs as it’s the only offline playlist I have. 😂
Anyway, I think that will be it for this post. I’m sorry it isn’t as great as I wanted it to be. Blaming it all on the essay blues and third year stress which means the first half of 2020 will not be a kind to me. But to anyone reading, I hope this year has been the best it could be for you and 2020 will bring you everything you ever hoped for!