Well, this month was a lot. I’m not going to get into it. We’re all going through the same insanity right now, and I’m just spending every day tired and stressed out, so reading has been a safe haven for me right now, as I’m sure it has for many other people. However, it was women’s history month and my birthday, so let’s make the best of it!
Mini Book Reviews
As you can see, two of these books were started in February, and while I really intended to finish both of them, I didn’t because February was a tough month for me (for non-pandemic-related reasons), but we’re here now, in even more dire times, so uh? Let’s celebrate it being Aries season?
Y’ALL IT’S MY BIRTHDAY MONTH! I’m really trying not to focus on the fact that I’m now 28 because holy moly that feels like a lot. And wow, this is already the second time I’ve mentioned this; everybody take a shot of tea every time I mention it’s my birthday.
ALSO, I tried to read only books by women this month, and really actively pursued that even though there were a couple books that I wanted to read by men, so let’s see how I did!
The Fountains of Silence | Ruta Sepetys (3/7-3/12): I went into this with the usual “if this doesn’t make you cry, there’s something wrong with you” attitude because that’s generally what happens to me during a Ruta Sepetys book, but this was surprisingly hopeful and sweet! It was also very romantic, but in such a warmer way than her books are, and honestly, this was a very nice change of pace from everything that’s going on in the world right now. There was still struggling happening, but it wasn’t quite as present as her other books, and the ending was actually happy. I thoroughly enjoyed this.
Woman Most Wild: Three Keys to Liberating the Witch Within | Danielle Dulsky (3/4-3/19): While I definitely loved this a lot, it was not quite The Holy Wild, and I unfairly went into it with that expectation. This was also a book that needed to be stretched out over a period of time, so I’m glad I started it at the beginning of the month. I took it one chapter at a time since I often found myself having to sit back and just breathe. This was also a lot witchier than The Holy Wild, centered more on specific rituals and spells to try. It was incredibly inclusive, which I appreciated, and it was honestly just another example of why Dulsky is such a fantastic writer.
With the Fire on High | Elizabeth Acevedo (3/22-3/24): Wow, okay, I definitely needed to get around to this a lot sooner than I did. I’ve been seeing this book everywhere forever, and I finally decided to grab it while I was out looking for some new contemporaries. I planned on beefing up my contemporaries so I could have a little buffer between my fantasies, but, as you can see, I read two of them this month because the world has gone to shit, and I needed a little fluff to help ya girl out. This was literally everything I needed, though, and I’m so mad at myself for not reading it sooner. I literally had to force myself away from just bingeing it in one sitting. The characters were wonderful and flawed and so well done, the story had me gasping and melting at every turn, and THE FOOD. Sim, por favor, obrigado, e mais.
We Hunt the Flame | Hafsah Faizal (3/21-4/1): Wow, okay, I definitely slept on this for too long. This was exactly the kind of book that I like to write (lots of character development, not a whole ton of plot until the end, basically a roadtrip with feelings), so I had a lot of fun reading this. So much fun that I preordered the sequel at the halfway mark. I adored every single one of the characters and 10/10 will die for Altair al Badawi, no questions asked. This should come as no surprise to anyone since he’s basically a hides deep brooding feelings under jokes and huge biceps soft boi, and I am here for those.
Thor? Is that you? The writing in this was fantastic, the world was so captivating, and I just want more right this very second.
Meet Cute: Some People are Destined to Meet | Various Authors (2/25-3/1): This was adorable! Admittedly, I did skip two stories, which were in second person, but everything else was really sweet and fun to read. I particularly enjoyed the story of the girls meeting in the airport and the customer service one, and I appreciated that only a few of them were hetero.
A Discovery of Witches | Deborah Harkness (3/2-3/6): Remember in September when I said I was never going to read this book? LOOK, DON’T @ ME IN THE COMMENTS, I KNOW I’M A FOOL. This was another case of Mary judging a book by its reputation, and by that, I mean that several people told me it was steamy and over the top, and I just decided that meant it wasn’t for me. I was wrong, okay, I will readily admit that. I loved this so much that I also binged the entire first season of the show in one weekend. There were some bits of this that did fall a little flat for me, though. The possessiveness and serious anti-feminist nature of vampires was pretty awful, and I’d hoped for better since the author is a woman in the 21st century, but alas, here we are, still leaning on old, overdone vampiric stereotypes. There was also SO MUCH that happened in this book, and it felt like it had seventeen different endings. I still ended up enjoying this a lot despite those, and I’m really excited about reading the second one.
The Candle and the Flame | Nafiza Azad (3/15-3/20): YO THIS BOOK! WHY IS EVERYONE SLEEPING ON IT?? Seriously, I haven’t seen this shouted about on social media at all, and I don’t understand because it is amazing? It’s got Djinni, romance, amazing Arabic culture, so much food, and it’s a standalone! The characters were really interesting, I loved the story, and I’m sad that we only get one book in this world (though also secretly glad because ya girl can’t be in the middle of anymore series right now). However, there was a lot of telling and not showing, so the romance did fall a little flat for me at times, and the action was less impactful because of that. Overall, though, it made me want to read whatever Azad will publish next.
Strange Birds: A Field Guide to Ruffling Feathers | Celia C. Pérez (3/14-3/29): This was really good! I loved the concept, the characters were absolutely adorable, and although this kind of made vandalism an okay thing for young kids to do, I really liked the messages of activism, discussions of racism, and found family vibes. There were parts that fell a little flat for me with the characters, but overall, this was a really cute read.
Wuthering Heights | Emily Brontë (2/2-3/13): Ugh. As you can see, it took me OVER A MONTH to read this book because I just hated it so much. This is not a promising start to my Brontë mission, and I’m so upset about that. It wasn’t the style or the writing; both were fine. I’m accustomed to both. It was the characters and the story. I literally despised every single character. None of them had redeeming qualities. They were either villains or self-absorbed, and all they did was whine about the unfairness of their life while being the literal root cause of why everything was unfair, but instead blaming it on every single other person possible. The story was stupid and pointless. I think it had a happy ending, but it was with characters that hated each other for much of the book and then were suddenly getting married, and I just did not care. I’m going to give Jane Eyre a whirl next, and we’ll see if I carry on after that.
Books read: 9
Pages read: 3,628
Backlist progress: 13/80
Alright, folks, here’s the deal. I’m now three months into my new job, and thus three months into my new reading life. As you’ve probably been able to see, it’s not that glamorous. I only read about one book per week, and while I thought about making April about preorder catching up, I think what’s going to work for me best is a very chill TBR moving forward. Thus, check out my OWLs magical readathon TBR here!
You might also notice that two things are missing. In the stats section, I took out the preorders tracker, and I’m not listing them here. Keeping track of my preorders worked for me last year, but it’s just been a source of stress for me this year, so I’m shelving them, and I’ll read them when I want to. We’re all about stress-free, fun reading this year!
Oh, look, a new section! I come up with small goals for myself every month, but I only write them in my reading journal, and I thought it’d be nice to have somewhere public to track it so I can keep holding myself accountable. For March, my goals were:
- Edit sister witches 2.
- Outline sister witches 3.
- Watch season 2 of Sabrina.
- Watch season 2 of Lost in Space.
- Read 50 pages every day.
Yes, I put TV in my goals because otherwise I feel guilty about letting myself watch TV, and it’s this whole ridiculous anxiety-riddled thing that I should probably post about someday, but I digress. I accomplished 2ish goals. Not only did I complete & edit SW2, but I outlined AND started SW3, so I’m actually ahead of that goal. I didn’t end up watching either TV show, so they’ll probably show up below, as well, and I missed one damn day for reading every day, ugh. It was a very bad day, though, which culminated in me crying alone in my dark office, so there’s that, and we’re going to count it mostly completed.
Thus, for April, my goals are:
- Write the first act of sister witches 3. (~30k words)
Watch season 1 of A Discovery of Witches.(This was a goal, but then I completed it in March, OOPS.)
- Read 50 pages a day.
- Watch season 2 of Sabrina.
- Watch season 2 of Lost in Space.
Like I said, I started SW3 this month, so I’m actually a little bit ahead already!
Aimal @ Bookshelves and Paperbacks discussed their top three favorite characters, and I just am wow over the whole thing. They managed to nail down exactly why I love Dara, Arya, and Tyrion so much and managed to somehow do it in a very scholarly, non-flailing way? I am impressed because every time someone asks me why I love Dara, I just shout his full name and fall on the floor.
The Orangutan Librarian talks about why judging people for reading YA is rude and totally unnecessary, and I am here for it. Let the people read whatever they want to read! At least they’re reading!
Pages Unbound is hosting their annual Tolkien Reading Event, which means there a lot of amazing posts happening right now. Some of my favorites (so far) are: why FOTR is worth reading (because Sam, duh), my post about Tolkien’s primary villains & how history repeats itself (aka me trying to academically talk about Morgoth & Sauron without screaming), a fantastic review of Humphrey Carpenter’s biography (which I reviewed earlier this year, but this is much better than me screaming about Tolkien driving)
Now that I’ve had more time at home, I’ve been writing a little more! I started the third sister witches, which I’m super hyped about. I wouldn’t normally start writing another book so soon after finishing one, butttttt this is the finale in a trilogy, and the beginning is the continuation of a cliffhanger, so I couldn’t really resist. Overall, I wrote 15k words, which means I’m halfway to my April goal, so uh, might have to challenge myself to more?
What I’ve Been Watching!
Knives Out was literally perfect, and the only thing that drove me crazy was the same thing that drove everyone crazy, WHY COULDN’T DANIEL CRAIG JUST BE BRITISH??? In my head, I’m pretending Benoit Blanc is just Bond on a vacation, and Q is sighing loudly in the background of every scene. Anyway, again, Knives Out was literally perfect, I want to watch it again seventeen times, this may now have a slot in my top five favorite Chris Evans roles (and that’s saying A LOT if you know me), I loved absolutely everything about it, my dad and I were yelling by the end, I need twelve more, please go watch this immediately.
So, uh. Sundance Now offers a seven-day free trial, which means I was basically required to watch this in one weekend. I mean, is anyone surprised? You’re silly if you are. Of course I was going to immediately watch the show for A Discovery of Witches after finishing the book. And let me tell you, what a good damn adaptation. Sure, they sped through A LOT, but they covered pretty much everything in the book, plus put in a lot of little things that I thought they’d ignore, so I’m pretty stoked about this overall. I’m definitely going to watch the new season, though I haven’t read the second book yet, so I should probably get on that.
Okay, not only did I catch up on Lore Olympus, I also watched Hercules. Look, I’ve been dreaming about my Greek mythos story a lot lately (totally linking the Pinterest board here), and I just want to write sad Hades pining for Persephone so bad, so watching this was basically just a matter of time for me. And wow, can someone please do a scientific study about how listening to Disney music & watching Disney movies calms literally everyone down in times of high-stress? Because I haven’t listened to this much Tarzan and Moana in a long time, but it all makes me feel way chill.
Y’all, I need everyone to do me a solid. Go watch Gentefied so it gets renewed for a second season so that I can appropriately die because this show is EVERYTHING. Seriously, with the world going to shit and everyone stressed af, this show is perfect right now. It’s funny, it’s sweet, and it’s full of mindless entertainment, and I love it so much. I don’t have to think about anything else while I’m watching it. I love every single one of the characters, the stories are fantastic, and the writing is just so realistic and so good. I loveloveLOVE this show, and I need everyone to watch it, so get on it.
Well, this month sure was a lot. I was supposed to go the UK at the end of the month, but we ended up cancelling our trip after Massachusetts declared a state of emergency and traveling just looked like a terrible idea. I don’t really want to talk about it because I’m still pretty bummed, so we’ll move onto other things.
I voted! This is both something I’m proud of and ashamed of. Proud of because I got to vote for a woman for the second presidential election in a row. Ashamed of because our country is still insanely misogynistic & unequal, so Elizabeth Warren was basically forced out of the race because she knew that she was the best candidate, and she was proud of that, but women aren’t supposed to be proud. I’m reminded constantly at work of how lucky I am to live in America. Most of my coworkers are immigrants, and the countries they’ve come from are in such worse shape than the US, but it’s really difficult at times like these. Buttigieg was gay and Warren was a woman, and while both of them would have taken this country farther than ever, most of us can’t accept that, and I’m disappointed to live where I do.
I also totally kicked ass at my tarot workshop this month. It was absolutely exhausting, and I’m never doing it for free again, but it was so much fun. I’m so grateful to the people that came out and trusted me to lead them, and I can’t wait to do it again!
And that was basically where my month ended? Which is pretty sad considering that was the literal 5th day of the month, but the state of the world dissolved pretty quickly after that. My birthday was on Sunday, so I’m going to tell you the things I was supposed to do so we can all pretend together that it was amazing. While we were in the UK, we intended to go to Mad Hatter’s high tea, lots of Harry Potter-themed events/tours, a big bus tour so I could see as many cathedrals as possible, Phantom of the Opera at the Royal Theatre, a tour of The Globe, a four-hour train ride through the countryside of Scotland, an eight-hour all-day tour of the Highlands & Loch Ness with a Scottish guide, and some other things that I’m definitely forgetting. Before I even got to the UK, I was going to see Carmen at Boston Ballet with my friend, Ashley, and then once Jen & I got back to the States on Friday, I had high tea at Jolie & a massage planned for the morning of my birthday followed by dinner at one of my favorite restaurants, Bella Verona.
I know the whole world is going through it. I know there are other people having pretty terrible birthdays right now. I just also think I should be allowed to be bummed about missing all that.
So, to make up for all of that, here’s what I actually did.
Decided I’d make a pie from scratch for Pi Day, and the adorable highlight of that was my dad asking me what I was doing while I was rolling out crust because he’d never seen someone make crust from scratch before. It was an all-berry pie instead of the two berries the recipe recommended, so it had strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries in it. And holy hell was it good.
After that, because I like to try really hard things right out of the gate with bread, I made croissants. I started easy with bread with Portuguese sweet bread, but my very next one after that was babka, which nearly made me throw in the towel, and now here I am, a few months later, deciding what the hell, I’m gonna give it a go. AND I WAS SUCCESSFUL! It was hard in that it took a lot of time, but it was also very satisfying at the end.
After that, I made huevos rancheros because I’ve been trying to go to all the places and eat all the food that they do in sister witches, which is, uh, quite a lot of places and food, so it’s an ongoing project. They were really good and super easy to make!
I’m a little appalled at myself right now because I MADE FUCKING MACARONS AND I DIDN’T TAKE A PICTURE. Oh my god. I am The Worst™. I can’t believe this. Look, the process is saved under my CARB BABIES highlight on my personal Insta, and y’all should go check it out because I did lemon macarons with a lemon curd filling, and they were amazing.
Anyway, I also made Portuguese orange cake for my birthday, which turned out way better than I expected, as well as the most over the top charcuterie/antipasto/crudités lunch/dinner thing, and I just had to get the most aesthetic picture possible.
So, though this month has sucked in terms of everything else, I’ve had a great food month, and I can’t wait to make both croissants and macarons again.
Since this picture freaked everyone out because apparently I look like the exorcist(???), I’m dropping it here to also do some shameless self promotion. The yoga studio where I teach has closed its physical doors, and while we’re still open virtually, it’s with a reduced schedule, so that means a solid chunk of my income has just disappeared. If ever you’ve been curious about yoga, want to have a little fun, or just wanted to take a class with me, but haven’t been able to because of distance, now’s your chance! I teach on Tuesdays @ 6PM for a regular vinyasa class that’s full of fun music and laughter, as well as Wednesdays @ 12PM for something I’ve dubbed funky flow over the past few years that’s technically advanced, but mostly just an excuse for me to absolutely kick your ass and have a good time doing it (translation: VERY loud music and fast movements) and another Wednesday @ 4:30PM for a slower vinyasa that’ll work more with breath and lingering in asanas. You can find more information & the rest of our schedule at Barefoot Yoga Shala‘s website, and if you end up signing up for a class (at least an hour in advance to get an emailed link to the private virtual class), let me know!
Anyway, that was my March. Insane in a lot of different ways.