May 2021 Favs

It’s my first month off from teaching for the summer so I feel like I have SO MANY favorites from books to videogames to talk about because I’ve just been LIVING. As always, if you want to see more about the individual books I’ve read, check out my recent reads posts because I have more detailed reviews there.

Books

From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Like I said in the intro, I’ve been reading a lot and while I didn’t have any new standout favorites, I did enjoy most of what I read. I’m going to talk about three things here. First, I want to talk about a book that took me by complete surprise, From Blood and Ash, by Jennifer L. Armentrout. After seeing this fantasy romance everywhere and DNF-ing ACOTAR earlier in the year, I was SURE I wouldn’t be reading this one. BUT THEN one of my best friends was like, you have to! You really have to! And when I saw it at my local bookstore, I thought it was fate so I picked it up. Is this a new favorite? No. Did I have problems with the story? Yes. Am I putting off reviewing it because I don’t know how? Absolutely. BUT I really had a fun time reading this story. I predicted a lot of the plot but I still had fun because of the angst and tension. I’ll be picking up the next book after the Clear Ur Shit Readathon in June so I’m pretty excited.

Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala

I also read Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala this month. I’ve never read a cozy mystery before but I’m definitely going to be reading more. I had so much fun with this story about a woman who is helping out at her aunt’s restaurant when her ex visits and suddenly dies in the restaurant. I know if doesn’t sound fun but the food, family, and friendship really made me happy especially over the backdrop of a small town. I really felt like the friendship between the main character and her best friend felt realistic and I’m excited to see what happens in the rest of this series.

Blue Exorcist by Kazue Kato

Lastly, I’ve been continuing to read through the Blue Exorcist manga series. Wow. I know this story and it’s one of my favorites but this reread has been the exact fun I need. I am particularly drawn to the character development of Rin, the main character, and his relationship with his twin brother, Yukio. Oh yeah, Rin is the son of Satan, in case you’re interested. Seeing them both figure this out as exorcists, is fascinating. I’m currently reading volume 11 and around volume 8 or 9 is where this complicated dynamic is really starts to get interesting and the stakes feel a bit higher. I’ve forgotten some of the plot points because I haven’t read or watched this series in a while so while I’m still in rereading mode, it feels fresh in many ways. I think I’m approaching the point where I start reading volumes I’ve never read before and I’m really excited to see what this series looks like right now.

Music

I have nothing to say about my monthly playlist. I’ve been into older music along with some relatively new tracks. I’ve also been listening to a couple of Last Shadow Puppets songs I included on my older playlists and didn’t want to feature them again but you should certainly check those out too. I’ll embed the playlist at the bottom of this post so you can listen if you want!

Also, I’ve been listening to the Sweet Boys Podcast and I know this part of the Sweet Boys Universe is over and I am devastated but if you want to watch/listen to all of it, I highly recommend. I linked to the YouTube channel because I suggest utilizing the visual component because it’s CHAOS and I love it. I know I haven’t explained anything about it but if you listen to the first episode, you’ll understand why. I can’t explain ANYTHING about it. Just listen.

Hobbies

Calico game art

I haven’t really been watching TV or movies because when I’m not reading, I’m playing video games. I’ve really been in a handheld mode so I’ve been playing Switch and DS. I’ve talked about most of the games I’m playing currently in previous posts but I have two new fun recommendations. First, I got Calico on the Switch. The link takes you to Steam because it’s also available on PC. This is a game where you create a magical girl character and you get to run a cafe and there’s tons of animals you can have live there. Oh and you can make the animals giant and you can ride on them to places. HOW FUN! I’m currently on a quest for new recipes and clothes.

Crafting Mama Game Art

I’ve also been playing the old and highly addictive Crafting Mama on the DS. The Mama game franchise is one of the few series where I feel the need to totally complete everything and once I start, it’s hard to stop. I am enjoying making the different crafts and trying to get perfect scores. I also have Cooking Mama 4 on the DS so I’m thinking about restarting that game when I finish Crafting Mama. I’m currently on the hunt for Gardening Mama because that sounds like a fun time, too. Also, if you want a laugh, please look up Babysitting Mama. I used to have it on the Wii but my brother and I didn’t have the GIANT stuffed baby that came with it so it was a hilarious time.

So what have you been enjoying this month? Don’t forget to check out my playlist for April!

January 2021 Favs

Because I’m doing recent reads every week or so, it doesn’t make sense to do full wrap-ups the way I used to but I do want to have a place to reflect on the month overall so I’m going to start talking about some of my favorite things each month. I’ll start with books but I also want to talk about hobbies, movies, music, TV, etc. so let’s get started!

Books

I have two stand-out books from this past month. If you’ve talked to me about books or read anything I’ve posted about books recently, this shouldn’t be a surprise because these books are from two of my new favorite authors.

First, I want to talk about The Obelisk Gate by NK Jemisin. This is the second book in the Broken Earth Trilogy and I loved it just as much as I loved the first book. This is rare for me. I typically don’t pick up a series because I’m afraid of investing time in something only to not like a large chunk of it. I also have never been a series fantasy reader but I think this series is going to be the thing to get me into fantasy and I am so excited for that possibility. I’ve really loved being able to jump into this world. It certainly takes a certain level of time and focus to read and get everything from Jemisin’s writing. As someone who zones out a lot, it can be difficult for me sometimes but for me, it’s totally worth it. I think Jemisin creates such interesting characters; I want to know what happened to them before and what will happen to them in the future. I also appreciate Jemisin’s narrative structure in both of these books. It isn’t linear and she has a way of bringing everything together in a way that seems simple but takes me by surprise every single time. 

I also want to give attention to Grown by Tiffany D Jackson. I never read books in one day. That’s just not my style, but Grown was impossible to put down. This book deals with some difficult subject matter and my heart broke for the main character, Enchanted. I had to know that she was going to be okay and the writing really lent itself to me being able to fly through the story in two sittings. If you’re familiar with Jackson’s work, you probably know that she tends to write hard-hitting YA contemporaries or thrillers. I read a fair amount of YA and enjoy it but it never quite ends up being a favorite but now that I’ve read two of Jackson’s books and they’ve become instant favorites, I’m starting to see what is possible in those genres. With Grown specifically, I appreciated the commentary on the way society doesn’t listen to women, especially Black women, when they have been abused. They are blamed or called liars when they speak up and while this story takes place in the music industry, it has messages that apply to the broader conversation surrounding women and sexual assault, grooming, stalking, etc. 

Music

I’m in a *very* specific mood musically. I’ve made a YouTube playlist to put on when I’m having a hard time focusing on anything that’s primarily live performances by Arctic Monkeys and Neck Deep. I really miss live music and since the seasonal depression is hitting hard, I’m reminding myself of better summer when I could go to shows. I’ll include a favorite performance for each band below in case you want to check them out. I wish I had something new and exciting to talk about musically but my brain just wants old, familiar sounds these days.

TV

There are two TV shows I’ve really been watching this month. First, I started getting back into One Piece. This is an anime that follows a group of pirates. The main character has a special ability that made him essentially made of rubber. It sounds lame but it comes in handy quite a bit. The trade-off – he can’t swim. If I’m not mistaken, this series is the longest-running anime and manga and I have a love/hate relationship with it. I’ll never catch up and I’ll never collect all the manga. It’s not feasible. But I love the story so much so I keep trying. Comedy is a must in my anime and while this one has plenty of action, it also makes me laugh all the time. Luffy is blindly confident and sometimes it gets the crew in trouble and a lot of times, it really pays off. Besides him, my favorite characters are Zoro and Ace.

I’ve also been watching It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Again. I can’t help it. I love this show so much. The main characters are totally unlikeable and are awful people and that’s the point. The creators make fun of the worst people you could meet and shows how ridiculous it is to act horribly and hold the worst beliefs. That being said, I do have a favorite character – Mac. He is incredibly religious and tries to use his religion to justify his ignorant beliefs all while struggling with his sexuality. And somehow, the writers turned this into something that is comedy gold (though I will say that the finale to season 13 takes a more serious look at his character and is just such a beautiful episode).

Hobbies

Especially at the beginning of the month, I was playing a lot of videogames. Primarily I was playing various Assassin’s Creed games. I am not great at finishing or sticking to one game so I’ve been switching between Valhalla, Origins, and Odyssey. I get really sucked in when I’m playing because I like tracking quests and traveling all over the world to accomplish small things that add up. I also played a ton of Kingdom Hearts this month. I played Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance the most. This is one of my favorite game series because I like the mix of Disney + Final Fantasy and how it’s kind of surprisingly dark sometimes. I think a lot about the conversations that were had that made Disney decide to agree. I made it all the way to the boss and then just didn’t finish the game. I’m really bad about that.

I also have been learning to cross-stitch. It’s really relaxing and helpful especially when I’m feeling anxious. Since I’m new to it, I really have to focus on what I’m doing which means I can’t think about everything else that’s going on in my brain. I finished this piece a week or so ago and while I left out the French knots (they’re *really* hard, okay), I’m still satisfied with it.

So what have you been enjoying this month?