Hello friends! After taking a break from these posts in December, we are back with our regular monthly wrap up, and we have a lot to share, so I can’t wait to get started. As usual, we have divided the post into different parts – even though, frankly, the life section has been dying since last March, lmao – for easier navigation.
This month we’ve decided to talk about a free resource you can use to raise money for charity. It’s called Tab For A Cause and it’s an extension you can add to your internet browser. Each time you open a new tab, it will display ads in the corner (it’s just for the “new tab” screen – they are not obtrusive and disappear once you navigate to the website you want to visit) which raise money for charity. Every time you open a new tab, you earn a “heart”, and you can use your hearts to pick which charities you want Tab For A Cause to support more. It also has to-do list, bookmarks and notes functions. If you want to try, you can use Sabrina’s referral link which will earn more “hearts” to designate: https://tab.gladly.io/?u=forebodinq or just install it from your browser’s extension hub.
January literally began for me in a car in the middle of nowhere on the way back to my home from visiting family interstate. We’d found out mere hours before that the borders between certain states were going to close and we had to get back as soon as we possibly could or there would be hefty fees. As it was, we were still required to take a COVID test within 24 hours and self-isolate for 14 days. Thankfully we all tested negative, and we received clarification on the rules which meant we did not have to stay in isolation after all.
I’m trying to think of what else I’ve done this month, and the answer is: not much out of the normal. I’ve gone on a few family outings which were nice (one to Redwood Forest which was amazing!) and out with friends once too. I’ve once again had a long stretch playing Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links for way too long and my brother has introduced me to another game called Hearthstone which I am finding pretty fun so far.
I’m going to be honest, I don’t think anything notable happened in January? I got all of my grades for last semester, and I got a five (we are graded from one to five) in all of my classes, which is something I’m quite proud of. 🥳 Other than that, I’ve started working out again with the new Flat Stomach Chloe Ting challenge, and I’m hoping to continue that in February, too next to doing my usual 10,000 steps a day.
I’ve also started working on my MA thesis, and I’m at that point where I feel really hopeless and like I’ll never be able to complete it, so uh, that’s not great. 😅 I’m glad I’m already working on it, though. My semester starts early-February, which is sad, but the good is that I’ll only have two subjects, these add up to four 90-minute-long classes, which means that I’ll have quite a lot of free time to work on my thesis… god knows I’ll need it.
What We Read
I read 10 books this month – a few of them being really short, and one I wish I’d finished in December. I started off really strong, with the first five books I finished being either four or five stars! Unfortunately, the streak didn’t last forever – I also read a one star book this month, which is something of a rarity for me 😔 I’m hoping I’ll read more in February! Anyway, let me tell you about some of the books I read this month:
THE OBELISK GATE BY N.K. JEMISIN
This was my first finished book of the year, and I did truly enjoy it. I’m probably being a little harsh by only giving it 4 stars (I may already be failing at my New Year’s goal of being more lenient about giving 5 stars), but I was so blown away by The Fifth Season that this one was a tad underwhelming and dragged on at times. Plus one of the characters has a tendency to annoy me, lol. Still, I think this book went in some interesting directions and I look forward to finishing the conclusion to the trilogy as soon as I can. 4/5 stars
YOU HAD ME AT HOLA BY ALEXIS DARIA
This was a quick, fun read with two wonderful main characters. I listened to this on audiobook and was surprised at both how quickly I got through it and how much I connected to the main characters, because I usually struggle with those things when listening to an audiobook. One this is that I do wish the side characters had been further developed – but it didn’t really bother me in the moment, because I was enjoying the protagonists so much! 3.75/5 stars
MONSTRESS VOLUMES 3 & 4 (HAVEN and THE CHOSEN) BY MARJORIE LIU & SANA TAKEDA
These were both easily 5-star reads for me! I am so in love with this graphic novel series and hope my library gets the fifth volume soon. The artwork is so stunning and I find myself genuinely taking my time to enjoy it. The plot and world-building are both so intriguing and intricate that I become increasingly fascinated by the story as it goes on. I highly recommend these books! 5/5 stars
DO YOU DREAM OF TERRA-TWO? BY TEMI OH
This was so well written that I mostly managed to be unbothered by how slow it was. Mostly. It was interesting throughout the whole book, but there were a few parts where I questioned what the story was really about. It was a fair bit darker than I was anticipating, but it made it feel all the more real to me. The characters felt like incredibly real people, and the multiple perspectives included in the book all added a lot to the story. I did find the ending quite abrupt, but I think it works, so I’m still a little conflicted about that, lol. 3.75/5 stars
I was able to read 17 books in January, which I’m really-really satisfied with, even if one of those books was a DNF. Better yet, most of the books I read were 4 and 5 star reads, so my average rating – 4.4 – is extremely high, higher than it ever was in 2020. There were three rereads thrown in there, but only one of them is a 5-star-read, while the others are 4-star-reads, so if anything, they dragged my average down a bit. In any case, let me introduce you to all the notable books I read in January.
GRAVE MERCY BY ROBIN LAFEVERS
This was a reread, as well as a buddy-read with Caro, with whom we’re working our way through the original trilogy before we can finally tackle Courting Darkness, a sequel I’ve been wanting to read for ages. I’m really glad for Caro’s company; god knows, it would have likely taken me years to get to Counrting Darkness on my own. Even though I ended up taking off a star from Grave Mercy, it’s still a solid four star read and I can’t wait to continue our reread of the trilogy. 4/5
SLAVE TO SENSATION + CARESSED BY ICE BY NALINI SINGH
I feel like few of you will be surprised to see me shouting out the Psy-Changeling series yet again, but look, this series brings me so much joy! In January, I was stressed and had trouble sleeping, so I reached for my favorite series for a comforting reread. Even though I’ve reread all of the Psy-Changeling books at least once, there are a few I don’t care for very much, so obviously I don’t typically reach for those when looking for a comfort reread – these two books, though? They always cheer me up. 4/5 and 5/5
ANXIOUS PEOPLE BY FREDRIK BACKMAN
This isn’t the only Backman book I read last month, but it’s easily my favorite and I see no point in discussing all the books I’ve read by Backman, as I’m working on a post dedicated to his books. In any case, Anxious People was a fantastic reading experience! It is easily one of my top books of the month, and I’m sure it’ll also be one of my favorites of the year. I immediately bought a copy for my mom and recommended it to many of my friends, because it’s a book I think most people would enjoy. Entertaining yet emotional, Anxious People is fantastic. 5/5
THE BOOKSHOP BOOK BY JEN CAMPBELL
I’d been wanting to read The Bookshop Book for ages, so I was extremely excited to get to it late-December. Imagine my disappointment when I started to read it and found it dry and boring. Thankfully, that must have only been my mood, because I revisited it in January, and I really-really loved it. I haven’t visited a bookshop for nearly a year at this point, so being able to read about all these lovely bookshops around the world was really magical to me. 5/5
STRANGE THE DREAMER BY LAINI TAYLOR
It’s taken me ages to get to Strange the Dreamer – and I probably would have never picked it up were it not such a big favorite of Sabrina’s – but I’m so glad I gave it a chance, because it’s such a fantastic novel. It’s extremely atmospheric and magical, and I really adored its characters as well as the romance, despite it being an insta-love. I can’t wait to read the sequel, and I’m planning on doing that in February. 5/5
WE ARE OKAY BY NINA LACOUR
I’ve wanted to try Nina LaCour’s books for the longest time, but I heard that they are slower paced novels that are more on the melancholic side, which isn’t exactly my favorite type of book. In any case, Sabrina has enjoyed LaCour’s works, so I gave We Are Okay a chance and I surprisingly ended up loving it even more than Sabrina did. I loved the novel’s focus on grief, friendship, and family and I can’t wait to read more by the author. 5/5
🤎 Related post: Reading and Reviewing Sabrina’s Favorite Novels
FRIDAY BLACK BY Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah
Friday Black is another book I read for the post linked above, and while it didn’t become as big of a favorite as the previous two books I mentioned, it was nonetheless a fantastic anthology that I’d highly recommend. If you enjoy Black Mirror, I think you should give a chance to this collection of short stories that deals with topics like racism and capitalism. Superbly written. 4/5
KNOW MY NAME BY CHANEL MILLER
I expected to be impressed by Know My Name, after all, most people have been praising this book, but even so, it managed to be even better than I expected. For those who haven’t heard of this book: Chanel Miller is the woman that was assaulted by Brock Turner – who infamously got off with a very short sentence – and this is her story. She is an excellent writer, and if you are able to, I recommend listening to the audiobook as Miller narrated it herself. Know My Name is easily one of my top books of January, and will definitely be one of my top books of the year. 5/5
THE SILENT PATIENT BY ALEX MICHAELIDES
I wanted to briefly mention The Silent Patient, because even though it didn’t completely live up to my expectations, it was nonetheless a captivating thriller. The audiobook narrators did an excellent job, so I was really invested in the story from start to finish. I’ll admit that I did have my suspicions – some of which proved to be at least partially correct – but nonetheless, the novel did pack quite a few surprises. If you enjoy thrillers, The Silent Patient is a novel you should give a chance to. 4/5
What We Watched & Listened To
- It was really sad to say goodbye to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in January after having watched it with my family for over seven years together. It truly did make an impact on me as a person and has brought me a lot of joy and pain, lol. Still, I have heard rumours that Disney+ is considering reviving it, so I will keep my fingers crosses for that! I haven’t even told you what the show is about – I would describe it as a sci-fi action-drama with a side of comedy. The characters are incredible and you never know what each new episode is going to bring. I highly recommend it! It had a pretty satisfying ending!
- I’ve been watching a fair bit of Friends recently, (so it felt like I had to include it here), and my original opinion still stands – it’s fun enough to have on in the background but it’s never going to be a favourite of mine. I just can’t get behind the characters lol. They are so awful!
- I started watching Alias, a spy drama, with most of my family a week or so ago. It really reminds me of one of my favourite shows as a kid – Totally Spies – which is good, but I am already having my issues with it just a few episodes in. We’re definitely going to continue with it for a while though, so I will probably check in with you about it again in the future.
- I watched Pride and Prejudice, the BBC miniseries with one of my friends, and I really loved it! It was such a great way to de-stress and have fun, as the light drama is extremely entertaining to me. 8/10
- I watched The Prom on Netflix with another friend and we both enjoyed it a lot, even though we were scared seeing the negative reviews. It wasn’t perfect and I’m sure it’s better in the theater, but it’s not as bad as the reviews made it seem like. 8/10
- With the same friend, I also watched His House on Netflix, which is a lesser known horror film about a refugee couple from South Sudan whose ghosts follow them to their temporary home. I expected to like it more than I did, but it was still pretty good, and the actors did a fantastic job. 7/10
- I’ve been meaning to watch Instant Family for the longest time, and it lived up to my expectations. It was entertaining and heartwarming, which is a nice combination. 8/10
- I started Unsolved Mysteries on Netflix, and I’m quite enjoying it so far. It’s not exactly Buzzfeed Unsolved – but then again, that show is unparalleled – but it’s well-made nonetheless. 7/10
- The Magnus Archives is back, and I honestly love it more than ever, lmao. I think I’m hitting new levels of being unbearably pushy about it… Sabrina could tell you about that. 😅
- I’ve also been listening to another podcast, Wolf 359 and I’m enjoying it so much! The start was rough, but I looked it up and everyone said that it gets better when the plot kicks in and that is exactly what happened. It’s on its way to becoming one of my favorite podcasts.
Around the Blogosphere
- Caitlin @ Caitlin Althea reflected on her 2020.
- Chana @ Paper Procrastinators discussed misogyny in fiction.
- Emily @ Paperback Princess asked what makes a non-fiction book good.
- Emme @ A Literary Latte talked about rating books objectively vs subjectively.
- Marie @ Drizzle and Hurricane Reads discussed her blogging insecurities.
- Morgan @ Morgan Is Reading Again gave some tips on how you can get out of a reading slump.
- Rukky @ Eternity Books discussed why she blogs.
- Sam @ We Live and Breath Books shared a couple of things that make her frown.
- Stephen @ Stephen Writes discussed how we find out about upcoming releases.
🤎 Reviews and Lists:
- Abi @ Scribbles & Stories shared their favorite reads of 2020 + here’s part 2.
- Caitlin @ Caitlin Althea tier ranked all 100 books she read in 2020.
- Catarina @ Pages and Plots reviewed The Burning Girls by C.J. Tudor
- Emily @ Paperback Princess reviewed Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender.
- Jenica @ Fire Whiskey Reader paired songs from evermore with romance novels + here’s part 2.
- Malka @ Paper Procrastinators shared 10 books she hopes to read in 2021.
- Marie @ Drizzle and Hurricane Reads recommended ten friends to lovers YA contemporaries.
- Morgan @ Morgan Is Reading Again recommended their favorite book series.
- Ruby @ Ruby Rae Reads shared some of the books on her 2021 tbr.
- Sophie @ Me and Ink shared some of her five star predictions.
- Tasya @ The Literary Huntress shared the best films and shows she watched in 2020.
How is your 2021 looking so far? What were your favourite reads this month? Let us know in the comments!