Hello everyone!! I am so sorry to say this over halfway through the month, but happy March, otherwise known as Women’s History Month! 🙋♀️💃 And I just realized I never wished you all a happy Black History Month — I had a couple of posts I wanted to get up to honor the occasion, but I guess those never came to fruition… hopefully sometime soon!
But anyway. Time is really speeding by, isn’t it? We’re already around 20% through 2021, and in just a week or so we’ll be a whole quarter through this year! It’s absurd, I tell you. The past two months have been SO crazy school-wise, what with the craziness of a new school semester and a ton of assessments that my teachers suddenly decided to dump on me all at once. As a result, I haven’t been able to get as much reading done, which is sort of disappointing, but we take what we can get, y’know? But I’m hoping that the worst of the chaos is mostly over now, so I’ve decided to (finally) sit down and give you all a very overdue wrap-up of my January and February! I’ve also sort of changed my wrap-up structure, so let me know what you think of it in the comments! Hope you enjoy 💜
Daughter of the Reich by Louise Fein. I chose this WWII HF as my first book of the year, and it was such a powerful read. Reading from the perspective of a Nazi was very difficult (please be careful with the triggers!!) but following Hetty’s journey as she realizes the error of her ways was so worthwhile. While I wasn’t the biggest fan of where the story went during the last third — the plot twists felt a bit pointless, and overall I feel like the ending straddled the line between realistic and just plain unsatisfying — it’s still worth reading for Hetty’s character development and the important message. ★ ★ ★ ½
▶︎ Click for trigger warnings
Near-drowning, infidelity, graphic violence & death, concentration camps, torture, vomiting, antisemitism & other Nazi sentiments, prejudice, sexual assault, abortion (mentioned, considered), thoughts of suicide, arson, loss of a loved one (sibling, friend), blackmail (Note: when I say antisemitism, I mean like Nazi-level antisemitism. Please be careful.)
Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas. My first five-star read of 2021 — how could I give it any less of a rating? In this prequel to The Hate U Give, Maverick takes center stage, and omg he is such a wonderful main character. I love him so much?? He’s portrayed so realistically, complete with all his flaws and mistakes and conflicting emotions. And Angie Thomas’s writing made me cry SO MUCH. It was just… so good?? How does she do this?? I just can’t deal with the level of this woman’s brilliance. And yes, I know I promised you guys a review, I promise it’s coming soon! ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
▶︎ Click for trigger warnings
Gang life, cheating, depression (postpartum), gun violence, racism, imprisonment, murder & attempted murder, death of a close family member (on-page), grief & loss depiction, sex (fade-to-black), smoking & drug use, teen pregnancies, abortion (mentioned, considered), substance addiction, toxic masculinity (general theme, challenged)
A Vow So Bold and Deadly by Brigid Kemmerer. I’m sure you’re all sick and tired of me raving about this series, but sorry, I can’t help it 😅 What a ROLLERCOASTER of emotions. The A++ character development and relationships had me hooked me from the very beginning to the very end. Although I found that the plot was rather predictable compared to the first two installments, it’s still a worthy finale. You can find my review here (complete with trigger warnings) if you want to read my full fangirling thoughts. ★ ★ ★ ★
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. I actually had to reread this for school, which goes to show that not all required reading is horrible. We had such productive discussions in my composition class, and I even got to initiate one of them by bringing up some Goodreads reviews that complained about Starr’s reverse racism. As for the book itself, I found it even better than the first time around, which was like three years ago when I didn’t know a thing about Black Lives Matter. And of course, I gobbled up every scene Maverick got, especially in the aftermath of my Concrete Rose-induced book hangover. ★ ★ ★ ★ ½
▶︎ Click for trigger warnings
Vomiting, gun violence, arson, racism & prejudice, microaggressions, death of a friend (on-page, flashbacks), cancer, domestic abuse, child abuse, alcoholism, police brutality, drug use
As always, the members of the blogosphere published so many fantastic posts in January and February and I’d like to shout out some of my favorites in this section! If I don’t mention your work here, it’s nothing personal — you’re all amazing and I would include you all if I could ❤️
- Caitlyn @ tea time lit wrote a glowing 5-star review of Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas that perfectly encapsulates everything amazing about this book 🌹
- Elizabeth Anne @ Stories and Sketches gave us some great Black History Month book recommendations 📚
- Sophie @ Me & Ink shared her thoughts while reading A Sky Beyond the Storm, ft. lots of tears (as with any other Tahir book) 💔
- Eleanor @ Wishing Upon a Star wrote a beautiful guest post for The Bibliosmile Project @ Novels and Waffles about the ways reading has changed her life 🌟
- Kimberly @ Deity of Books gave us an incredible list of YA Asian book recs by genre to celebrate Lunar New Year 🧧
- Pilar @ The Bookworm Shelf shared 24 romance novel recommendations by trope (!) for Valentine’s Day 💌
- Becca @ Becca’s Books wrote a remarkably gorgeous review of A Sky Full of Stars by Dani Atkins that immediately made me add it to my TBR 💕
“Congratulations” from The Hamilton Mixtape. I don’t even know what took me so long to check this song out, but omg it is so worth the hype. When Angelica sings “And a million years ago she said to me, ‘This one’s mine’ / So I stood by / Do you know WHYYYY?? / I know my sister LIKE I KNOW MY OWN MINDDDD / YOU WILL NEVER FINDDD ANYONE AS TRUSTING OR AS KINDDDD” — ughhh CHILLLSSSS. Renée Elise Goldsberry’s version is honestly hard to beat (you can see her rendition in this video), but Dessa’s voice does a wonderful job of capturing the vibe of the song.
Bridgerton: The Musical. I’m not even on TikTok, and I haven’t even watched Bridgerton, but I somehow got swept into this frenzy… and I have no regrets. Two brilliant young women named Abigail Barlow and Emily Bear have been writing a musical based on the Netflix series Bridgerton, with live TikTok updates for their already-considerable fanbase. Their songs are AMAZING, and they’re both so talented (Abigail writes the most beautiful lyrics and has a gorgeous voice, and Emily is a literal piano prodigy). My favorite songs from them that I’ve listened to so far are “Ocean Away” (AND I CAN’T EVEN DRINK CHAMPAAAAAAGNE 🥂), “Balancing the Scale” (making sure their worth is always something that they know 🥺), and “Alone Together” (COLORED IN GREEN, GILDED IN GOOOLDDDDD 🖼), but literally everything they write is BRILLIANT. You can listen to their demos and learn more on their website.
February was definitely the month of K-dramas for me. I don’t talk about my love for K-dramas on this blog as much for whatever reason, but better late than never, right?
Mr. Queen. This was SO GOOD!! Hilarious banter + political intrigue + amazing character arcs + fascinating premise = 10/10 on the Abby scale. This one is essentially about a guy whose soul gets transported into the body of a Joseon queen and the hijinks that ensue, political and otherwise. My family is currently rewatching it and having as much fun as the first time around. Would definitely recommend. (Viki – all episodes free) [TW: blood & gore, knives & swords, death & murder, suicide attempt, medical stuff (needles), pregnancy, gun violence]
True Beauty. Girl has secret. Boy finds out secret. Girl tries to convince boy not to leak secret. Forced proximity, romance, and messy love triangle ensues. Standard K-rom-com formula 😂🤷♀️ This one was really cheesy and tropey but overall, I really liked it! I think it’s perfect for lovers of YA contemporary romance — but there is some potentially triggering content, so be careful with that. (Viki – first 4 episodes) [TW: bullying, cyber-bullying, suicide attempt & suicide, infidelity, death of a loved one (mother, friend)]
Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-Joo. This coming-of-age drama focuses on the eponymous weightlifting student Kim Bok-Joo, who struggles with her ideas of femininity when she falls in love for the first time. The whole thing was just me going awwwwwww 🥰 for all 16 episodes. The romance was SO CUTE — it’s a rivals-to-friends-to-lovers, so obviously I devoured that. I’m afraid you won’t be able to see this unless you have Viki Pass Plus, or you speak fluent Korean and don’t need English subtitles (OnDemandKorea). But if you’re able to watch it, it’s definitely worth trying out! [TW: eating disorder (binge eating), fatphobia, drug overdose, family estrangement, terminal illness]
The Shadow & Bone trailer. Because YES, this deserves its own section. I sort of died watching this?!?!?! Jessie Mei Li is AMAZING — whoever decided to cast this brilliant (half Asian!!) actress as Alina deserves a pay raise ASAP. Ben Barnes is rocking the Darkling act and he looks IMMACULATE doing it (you and I are going to change the world ahhhhh). And omg be still my Malina-shipping heart (DO NOT COME AFTER ME 😂), Archie and Jessie capture that friends-to-lovers vibe perfectly 😍 And YESS THE THREE SECONDS WE GOT WITH THE CROWS AHHHHH. Amita looks FANTASTIC as Inej and ahhhhhhh Freddy as Kaz. Though I’m still sort of bitter that Nina and Matthias were relegated to side roles, hmph. But anyway. You can bet I’ll be watching this series the moment it drops on April 23rd. Anyone else with me? (Or maybe I should ask anyone else not with me?)
February 17th marked the beginning of Lent! It’s traditional for Christians to give up things during this period as a reflection of Christ’s ultimate sacrifice, so I’ve decided to give up listening to my beloved musical theatre soundtracks, like I’ve done for the past two years. I’ve replaced them with some gorgeous Christian tracks I found on Spotify, so my brain these days is less Hamilton and Starry, and more Hillsong. It definitely got tough once weeks 2 and 3 set in, but I’ve since gotten used to it and I’m actually enjoying the experience now. You can find my Christian playlist here.
I mentioned in the intro that school has been really crazy, and my life has basically revolved around that fact for the past two months. Things have been especially rough the last couple of weeks, and I had a few mental health breakdowns, but we’re getting through this, one day at a time. I haven’t been reading the Bible too often recently, and I feel terrible, but hopefully I’ll be able to change that soon.
On a happier note, I got chosen as a scriptwriter for my school’s student-led musical production!!! As of writing this, the script is pretty much done, but it was such a great experience getting to exercise my writing muscles for the first time in a long while!
The verses that got me through the past two months are Isaiah 57:18-19.
I have seen what they do, but I will heal them anyway! I will lead them. I will comfort those who mourn, bringing words of praise to their lips. (NLT)
This reminder of God’s mercy and faithfulness took my breath away and was a huge comfort to me when I first read it, so hopefully it provides you with some reassurance today ❤️
Well, we have exactly 12 days left in the month, so I don’t think this section will be too long 🙈 But here are the books I’m hoping to get to/finish by the end of March:
The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed.
Requiem by Daniel Ståhl.
The Outlands by Tyler Edwards.
Lovely War by Julie Berry.
Four books isn’t too ambitious, right?? Especially since my spring break is starting in a week 🥳🥳🥳
Okay, I had a lot to say in this post, but you’ve finally arrived at the end. Thanks so much for reading, everyone! Please feel free to start a conversation in the comments — I’d love to know how your January and February went, and how your March is going so far!! Any new favorites you’ve discovered, bookish or otherwise?
Wishing you all a great day (or night)! 💝