What a month. It wasn’t great, I won’t lie. The books were amazing, but everything else was very much not, and I’m tired.
Mini Book Reviews
🌈 LGBTQPIA+ characters
🔥 BIPOC authors
🌑 BIPOC characters
Smith of Wootton Major & Farmer Giles of Ham | JRR Tolkien
I’ve got a bit of a longer review for both of these here, but the tl;dr of it is that I absolutely adored these. This was such a wonderful way to start my month, and I was really excited to be reading more of Tolkien’s non-legendarium books. I can definitely see myself reading these to my nieces & nephews as they grow up. I wish so much that Smith of Wootton Major just had an entire series dedicated to it.
A Psalm of Storms & Silence | Roseanne A. Brown 🌈🔥🌑
Now this is how you conclude a book! This had me hook, line, and sinker the whole way through, and I was so here for it. Everything that I wanted to happen happened, and whenever there was a surprise, I was totally onboard for it. The characters were fantastic, and I really, well and truly, loved the way that the romance went. It was not at all what I was expecting, but it was perfect for Karina & Malik’s individual characters, both apart and as a unit, and I was just really unexpectedly pleased by it. The story in this was wonderful, and Brown will definitely be someone I continue to read.
I Must Betray You | Ruta Sepetys
This was such a fast read, even though it took me five damn days to read it. I did fly through this with large breaks in between blocks of 100 pages, and I definitely would have read it in one go if I’d had the time and space to do so. I love Sepetys’ use of short chapters, and each one just builds on the last in a way that makes me want to keep reading until I’ve run through the entire book. This was not my favorite of hers, but definitely an excellent read, and I can’t wait to see what she does next.
Honey Girl | Morgan Rogers 🌈🔥🌑
Y’all, put this on the top ten reads this year. I haven’t had a book yet that I’ve felt called to start building the list, but this is it. I truly loved every single word of this book, and I can’t wait to read anything and everything that Rogers does in the future. The writing was fantastic, the characters were absolutely phenomenal, and the story was A+++++. This had the vibe of Casey McQuiston’s wit & sarcasm, but the beauty & care of Claire Kann, and that combo is literally everything in the world I’ve ever wanted, but Rogers went even beyond that. I love this book. I love it so damn much, and I’m going to hold these characters, and the relationships that they built, in my heart for a long, long time to come, and I can’t wait to read this again.
The Hate U Give | Angie Thomas 🔥🌑
This was as amazing as I hoped it would be. I mean, most of the world can’t be wrong in thinking this was a truly fantastic book, so I had high hopes, and they were fully met. Thomas’ writing was phenomenal, and I can’t wait to read her other two books. Obviously, this was also a difficult book to read, and I definitely felt myself tearing up several times in the second half of the book, especially with everything that’s happening in the world right now. Starr was such an incredible MC, though, and to see this story unfold through her eyes felt like a terrible, wonderful privilege.
Black Girl Unlimited | Echo Brown 🔥🌑
I’m honestly not sure how to review this book. It’s absolutely heartbreaking, but so brilliantly written that it feels like an immeasurable honor to be able to read it. Brown’s navigation through her trauma and upbringing with the lens of magic to help her heal and understand is beyond anything I’ve ever read before, and I know that I’ll be thinking about it for a long time to come. I wish so badly that I could give her a hug, but will settle for spiraling prayers her way that she lives a long, fulfilling, and joyful life. This book is eye-opening and groundbreaking, and it should be read by everyone.
Books read: 6
Pages read: 2,103
Great TBR Challenge: 20/96
Not only is it Women’s History Month, but I’m going away to Portugal! Thus, I’ve got four very specific books on this month’s TBR since I need these books to be paperback and smallish so they’re easily portable. As with last month, I’m doing a separate post for my TBR, which you can find here!
Holy hell, I’m so behind on blog hopping. Like, I had to start favoriting posts as a bookmark because it was taking an obscene amount of time to scroll down through my feed. However, I made it my goal to catch up on posts before the end of the month because I’m going away for two weeks in March, and I undoubtedly won’t be blogging then, so here’s a whole ton of posts from the last two months that I enjoyed!
It’s that time of the year again! For the eighth year in a row, Pages Unbound is asking for guest posts in honor of the Tolkien Society celebrating Sauron’s downfall, and I am so ready! Briana also wrote a very poignant piece that once again pleads with authors not to read reviews because reviews are not constructive criticism, but a space for readers to express their thoughts in general.
I’m a little late on being excited about anticipated releases, but Caro @ Bookcheshirecat dropped a list of books that I almost entirely have not heard about!
Marie & Nyx @ Drizzle and Hurricane Books wrote a super interesting list of if you like this TV show, read this book, and while I’ve both watched & read very few on the list, this was such an unique idea that I had to share it!
Elaine @ Elaine Howlin dropped a wonderful mega list of blog posts ideas, and I am definitely going to be snagging a few of these.
CG @ Paper Fury also dropped a list of anticipated reads, and when I tell you that I had to pause at March so I could look at the nine tabs of books that I had open, well. It’s a pretty damn good list.
Fadwa @ Word Wonders discussed six different tips for language learning, and I’m definitely going to be taking some of these to heart on my Portuguese journey!
Simone @ Simone and Her Books compiled a list of Asian history & folklore retellings to celebrate the Lunar New Year, and there were some new (to me) books on there that I hadn’t heard about previously, so I’m really excited to check them out!
Varian @ The Quite Pond dropped a list of recommended reads by Black authors, only a few of which I’ve heard of before, so my Goodreads suddenly has a dozen tabs open!
I wrote a little about how much I miss writing and what it felt like to actually do some writing in the middle of the month, so I won’t go into super detail here, but damn. Work has been absolutely insane, but it’s finally starting to calm down a little, and I’m starting to get some of my energy back, so I took my laptop to a cafe toward the middle of the month, and when I tell you that those two hours of writing sustained a good mood for the entire week following–dude. I’ve got to figure out how to make time for this again. I know that I’ve been actively not making time for writing because work has been eating up so much of my time and energy, but now that things are settling a bit, I’m going to work on getting back to writing on the regular.
What I’ve Been Watching
Erin and I had a double feature at the beginning of the month because we were both alone in the house and didn’t have anything else to do. We started with The Kindergarten Teacher, which, while really well done, was incredibly tough to watch. Right from the start, it felt predatory, and it was very clear that the filmmakers intended for us to see the kindergarten teacher as the villain in this story. Not only did it feel incredibly real, it was heartbreaking to watch, and though I’m not sure I’d recommend this to anyone, it was excellently crafted.
Awake was our second movie for the weekend, and damn, what a shift away from horrifying and realistic angst. This was definitely made with A Quiet Place and Bird Box in mind, which meant that Erin and I were pretty much guaranteed to like it. There were a few parts that I was confused with and felt like I’d missed something along the way, but this was such an interesting take on the loss of a sense, and I loved that the cast was all people of color and led by a woman, especially given that that woman was Gina Rodriguez. Overall, pretty good, and loved the concept of NDEs solving the problem, but a few weird plot bits here and there.
I’m gonna be spoilery when I talk about Midnight Mass, so here’s your warning. This has been on my radar for a little bit, mostly because I love Catholic vibes and horror stories, but Erin kept saying it would really help me with my vampire story, and I kept taking that in the religious sense until she finally cracked and said, “It’s got vampires, you idiot, and it’s the plot twist, but you won’t watch it, so now I have to ruin it for you.” Not gonna lie? I think I would have guessed. Like, from the first episode when Father Paul is bringing something over on the ferry that’s in a huge wooden box. That is literally how Dracula traveled to and from Transylvania, and it cracked me up. This was so damn good. It’s like someone looked into my brain and pulled out the very strange niche that lives there that goes hard for Catholics + vampires. Plus, the lore in this was top notch! Like, damn. I want to watch this eighty-five more times. I knew it was going to be good because it’s by the same people who did Hill House, but they totally knocked this out of the park, and they’re doing Edgar Allen Poe next?? We’re gonna die.
Erin & I rewatched The Conjuring because we were in the mood for spooky, and, in a wild turn of events, I no longer like it. I am honestly shook, guys, because I loved this movie when it first came out, and it scared the hell out of me. But it was very Christian-forward in a way I don’t remember, and there was a lot of burn the witch vibes that I just don’t jive with, so this was a big ole nope for me.
After an absolutely chaotic day (see below), I didn’t want to watch another horror and needed something light, so Erin put on The Dressmaker, to which she remembered about an hour in that several people die, and it’s actually a heartbreaking movie. Suffice to say, I didn’t really like it. There was no discernible plot other than people flouncing around in pretty dresses, it was mostly full of people dying and people crying, and I’ve now added it to the very, very small list of movies that I don’t like.
And to round off the weekend, we finally watched I, Tonya! Erin’s already seen this (as she has most of the movies we watch), so this was really for me to watch, and I loved it more than I thought I was going to. With Margot Robbie & Sebastian Stan leading the movie, I knew it’d be great, but they really knocked it out of the park, and I was highkey impressed.
Erin & I were in a damn mood at the end of the month, and we really couldn’t agree on anything, so we were both scrolling aimlessly through Netflix until I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore popped up on my screen, which I keep meaning to actually give a look, and Erin had seen it floating around a few times, too, so we settled on that, and my goodness. I knew it was going to be strange because duh Elijah Wood, but this was a whole other level. Not gonna lie, I absolutely loved it. I don’t think I’ll ever watch it again because it was batshit, but it was also amazing, and it once again cemented why I love him so much.
Where to even start. After a truly fantastic start to the year, February was rough. I pretty much reached the end of my already tapped out energy and spent a week not having a great time at work followed by a few yoga classes that I just didn’t want to teach, and now here I am, at the end of the month, feeling a little better mentally, but way worse physically.
I’ve been trying to go up to Erin’s house for as many high holidays as possible, and since there are no federal holidays that fall around the high holidays, we celebrated Imbolc at the end of February. I worked a half day because I wanted to see the boys through lunch (it’s only our second week with a new food company, so I’m wary still), and then I headed up to Maine on Friday afternoon. Everything was just flawless on Friday, too. Lunch was delivered early, the boys got done with their meeting early, no one needed me to stay around, there was no traffic, I got my car packed in record time, and I made it up to Maine in just a bit over three hours. Erin & I met our mutual friend, Cathrine, for Thai, we mostly made fun of The Conjuring, and it was a really good damn day. Even Saturday, during the day, was wonderful. We went out shopping, went to a bookstore for the first time in over a year, laughed ourselves silly during a Queer Eye episode, and ordered Olive Garden. This is where it all started to go wrong.
Maine just sucks during the winter. There’s no getting around it. There’s always snow, and there’s always ice, and no matter how much you shovel or plow, it’s always going to be like that. Thus, all of the driveways in northern Maine are just sheets of ice. Which, honestly, wasn’t a huge problem at the beginning. However, it started to snow on Saturday afternoon, and while it was probably only an inch or so, any amount of snow on an icy driveway is going to make it suddenly impossible to drive on. We knew this, but we’ve both driven through worse, so we hopped back in the car to go pick up our food and promptly slid right into a ditch. We didn’t even make it out of her driveway. And through a series of reversing and trying to drive out of the ditch, we just got more and more stuck until, finally, I got out to push. Cue me falling down on the ice four different times in which I smacked directly onto my knees and hands.
We eventually got out of the ditch, and I pushed us about halfway up the hill before I fell over and let Erin do the rest. She got to the top, tried to turn out, and slid backwards into a second ditch. We were now about halfway up the driveway and in danger of either hitting the well on the right or going into the trees on the left if we weren’t careful about navigating the car, so I circled around to the front and tried to rock & push the car out. I eventually got it again, but only after falling two more times. We were both snowy and wet and full of adrenaline, so when we finally got out of the driveway, we let out primal screams of victory.
Dear reader, it was so short-lived.
We get back to the house, and the rest of Saturday night is pretty okay. My fingers really hurt from being in the cold snow for too long, but that’s happened before, and it’ll happen again. My knees were starting to hurt, too, from falling so many times, but oh, sweet summer child, you have no idea what’s coming for you.
Sunday morning dawns, and after I’ve brushed my teeth and washed my face, I go to kneel on the bed to get my phone, and I honest to Satan collapsed over onto my side in pain. It hurt so damn much to kneel, which I assumed was from falling so many times, so I rolled up my sweatpants to check my knees, and there’s nothing. No bruising, no swelling, nothing. I decided to take it easy, and we didn’t have a whole ton of plans before heading out to Cathrine’s that night for our celebration, so we mostly lounged, watched some more Queer Eye, and left around 4PM to make the hour drive. And don’t get me wrong, our Imbolc celebration was a lot of fun. We had snacks, we lit so many candles, there were crystals everywhere, we did a craft, and we danced in front of a fire. It was amazing! But ya girl has some serious trauma & anxiety built up over two decades when it comes to any kind of throat illness or what-have-you, so when Erin came down with such a bad migraine that I had to drive her unfamiliar car home in the dark backwoods of Maine and pull over so she could throw up on the side of the road, well. I checked my watch later, and my BPM went from 63 to 116, and that’s about where it stayed for the hour drive home while I had imaginary conversations with a police in my head because I didn’t have my license because I didn’t think I was going to be driving.
The truly awful drive home does not negate the celebration, but they are now intrinsically tied together in a way that left me exhausted and on edge by the time I was going to bed on Sunday so that I ended up staying up late watching Youtube because I was so rattled. (I’m being dramatic and should note that Erin is 100% better now.) We didn’t do anything on Monday because no fucking thanks, and I left around 1PM to get home around 4:30PM so I could unpack and immediately head out for yoga, which I couldn’t actually teach because I could put absolutely no pressure on my knees without wanting to cry, before food shopping and meal prepping, and we haven’t even gotten to the best part.
Monday morning, my lumbar was starting to be not great, which makes sense given the ways in which my body moved to try to get the car out of the ditch. By the time I was at Whole Foods shopping after yoga, it’d reached unprecedented levels of pain. Like, muscles seizing in my lower left lumbar so that my left leg stopped working so that I was trapped in the middle of the Whole Foods parking lot, swearing at myself and trying not to cry because I couldn’t walk and was in so much pain. It only lasts about thirty seconds, but it started happening every couple of hours to the point where I didn’t sleep all that much Tuesday night, and I got stuck several times in the middle of the receiving dock at work until I finally called my chiropractor. As of right now, when I’m drafting this, that’s where the story ends, so here’s hoping I remember to write the rest of it after my chiro appointment.
I’m going to try to end this on a good note. The last week has been difficult, and while my knees still aren’t accepting much pressure, they’re accepting a little. I’m able to kneel on my bed, and I could attempt a low lunge, just not stay in one. Thankfully, it’s looking like it’ll heal up quickly, which I’m glad for both with yoga and my upcoming trip. Neither my knees or my lumbar were an issue with climbing, though, so at least I’ve got that! My lumbar is doing a lot better, too. My chiro confirmed that my spine was very swollen, and it took him a while to adjust it, and I was still in a lot of pain the next day, but as I’m finishing up this post on Saturday, I’m feeling much better, and I’m looking forward to my next chiro appointment on Tuesday to confirm that we’re on a good track.
And because I got so wrapped up in telling you my woe is me story, I forgot to mention that we had a hot chocolate bar at work! I made the boys Valentine’s rice krispies and put together a little station for them, and they just thought it was the cutest. Things have been finally slowing down a bit at work, too, which I mentioned in my writing update, so here’s hoping we’ll be in a calmer space by the time Portugal rolls around.
Because y’all! It’s so soon! As I’m writing this, I’ve got three full weekends left before I’m abroad for two weeks. I’m working hard to get posts written in advance because I will 100% not scramble and try to post things while I’m away, but you should be seeing a few almost live posts from me while I’m there. Almost because I’ll be talking about things I’ve just done so that I’m not mapping out my entire trip by talking about what’s ahead so someone can stalk me. But there will definitely be a lot of Portugal on this blog very soon, and I can’t wait!