We’re going to do something a little different this month for my wrap-up! As much as I love talking about all of the books I’ve read, I also want to share more of what else I’m enjoying lately. On top of it, I want to get away from doing book reviews.
I’ll be dedicating a whole blog post to this in a couple of weeks, but there’s a couple of reasons for it. 1) To be honest, I’m not great at reviewing books. There are some people who are amazing book reviewers and can do some wonderful critical commentary on them. I’m not one of those people. 2) As I’m working on pursuing my writing career, it’s usually recommended that you don’t have public book reviews anywhere. It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a long time, and I agree. Even if I’m being professional in my review if it happens to be a bit negative, why should I be publicly posting something that’s negative about a potential co-worker? It doesn’t make sense.
I’m of course not going to stop talking about books. There’s going to be a ton of blog posts in the future talking about books so don’t worry about that. I think I’m physically incapable of not talking about books. But, I’m going to be cutting out actual reviews.
So… here’s what I’ve been enjoying in Feburary!
Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor
I read the first book in this duology, Strange the Dreamer last year and it was one of my favorites! This book was a lovely follow-up. Her writing is so full of wonder and magic.
The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
What an ADORABLE debut! This was a book chosen for PitchWars a year or two ago, and her mentor was Brighton Walsh whose books I’ve read. From what I can tell, it was a fantastic pairing because I loved this book. With our delightful and autistic heroine and the charming hero in a gender-swapped Pretty Woman type of story - you won’t be disappointed.
The Sisters of the Winter Wood by Rena Rossner
If you want a quieter fantasy filled with wonder, sisters, and romance, this is for you! It has so many fairy tale influences and it’s steeped in Jewish culture. Then it has this interesting dual point of view chapter format where one sister’s POV is done in verse. I’m not usually one for poetry, but this was lovely.
A Hope Divided by Alyssa Cole
The first book in this series, An Extraordinary Union, was another favorite of mine last year. This one was just as good! If you want historical romance, but it’s not all balls and carriage rides and everything, you’ll love this series set during the Civil War.
Lethal White by Robert Galbraith
It took me months, but I finally finished this book! It took me far longer than it usually does, and I listened to the audio book which worked better for me than reading the physical book. The ending makes it worth it.
Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers
I’m re-reading this one because I’d re-read the first two in the trilogy not too long ago, and with the release of the follow-up duology being released, I needed to revisit Annith’s story. I’m listing to the audio book this time and really been enjoying it. This book features one of my OTPs and knowing what I know, I can’t stop giggling as I listen.
The Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyon
This is a debut epic fantasy novel and one of my most anticipated of the year. It’s taking me longer than I anticipated, but this world and story are so rich.
Wonder Women Podcast - Carrie Hope Fletcher and Celinde Shoenmaker
I’ve been a fan of Carrie’s YouTube channel for some time and when I saw her announce she was starting a podcast with one of her friends I thought I’d give it a shot! They mostly talk about general women’s issues and history. It’s really fun and it’s like sitting in on two friends having coffee. It’s a little scattered and their episodes could be a bit more organized, but that will come with time as they go. There’s only been a couple episodes so far!
Snark Squad Pod - Emma & Romantic Comedies
I’ve been loving the Snark Squad Pod ever since it was released last year, and this past month I particularly loved their episodes on Emma and Romantic Comedies. As a Jane Austen fan, it was fun to hear them talk about their histories with the story of Emma, thoughts on the books, and comparing all of the adaptations. Then to celebrate Valentines Day they talked about romantic comedies which was also ridiculously fun and I ended up binging all of my favorites once I finished the episodes.
I recently went on a writing retreat with some friends and I was looking for some new music to listen to while I got work done. One of them suggested the How To Train Your Dragon soundtrack (to be honest - I’ve only seen the movie once so I never would have thought of it!) and it was wonderful! Especially for fantasy and some more battle/action-y type scenes. I’ve really been into instrumental music while I’ve been writing lately and this was exactly what I needed.
I recently discovered that I can rewatch old episodes of the short-lived musical TV show a few weeks ago and… it created a monster. I basically have the music from the show playing non-stop now and it makes me far happier than it should.
Yes, I fully admit that I watch this show and I get SO INTO IT. Especially this week! Ever since they showed that at one point Colton jumped the fence because he was tired of it all I was completely hooked this season and have been waiting for this moment. I’ll be honest - I was hoping it was a little earlier in the season because how great would it be if the Bachelor left the show but they kept on filming and we just got to see all of the women become BFFs and travel the world together? I’d watch the crap out of that show.
But, the drama this week has been legitimate. I think for once Chris Harrison has been honest about this being “the most dramatic episode ever.” I mean, it’s worse than when Rachel cried her tears off with Peter.
As I said earlier, it’s taken me forever but I finally realized how I can stream old episodes of Smash on the NBC app and it’s made my musical theatre loving heart incredibly happy. Also - when can this Marylin Monroe musical be a real life thing? I’d totally fly out to NYC to go see it.
I’m late to the party on this one, but I finally have started watching Brooklyn 99. I’m only in season two and it’s ridiculously fun. I think Sergeant Terry Jeffords is my favorite. But all of them are pretty fantastic.
A Million Little Things
We’ve already had the season finale for this new show and why is it over???? I don’t understand! I don’t care about the other new shows coming in for the spring/remainder of the winter season. I wasn’t sure about this show at first because it seemed like ABC just wanted their own version of This Is Us. Which… it kind of is. But, I for sure got into the mystery and loved the different characters. Especially Maggie and Gary. They’re my OTP of the show.
This is Us
Of course I’m still totally into This is Us. But I’ll be completely honest - I’m getting really bad at Randall this season. His wife Beth is the actual best ever and they’re so perfect together but RANDALL IS MESSING EVERYTHING UP and if he continues on this path I’m not sure if I’ll still believe in true love.
A friend of mine recommended this new SyFy show to me a few weeks ago so when I had a couple of days off I binged the episodes which were already out and have been trying to keep up with the new releases each week. I don’t read graphic novels, so I’m not familiar with the ones this show is based off of. However, I don’t feel like I’m missing anything by not reading them. I typically enjoy stories about assassins for some reason and stories about boarding schools - this is the perfect combination of both! It’s this odd cross between a “typical” high school/coming of age TV show (they have an episode that is a throwback to The Breakfast Club and one about a prank war) but you know… the stakes are a tad big higher. As in, they’re all murdering each other. So you know, good times.
Also, it stars our sweet girl who played Laura Jean in To All the Boys I Loved Before but now she’s this awesome fierce assassin and I couldn’t be more proud.
Being the over the top Harry Potter fan I am, as outrageous and odd as some of Daniel Radcliffe’s other acting projects have been, I still have to at least test out each one of them. I have to admit - this one is one of my favorites so far. He works in the “answered prayers” department of heaven and he along with a small team have to help two people on Earth find love in order to save the world. If you take off your theology hat - it’s hilarious and endearing. It’s a great cross between The Good Place and a workplace comedy.
I’m ridiculously unhealthy and I’m attempting to drink more water. Usually all I drink through the day is coffee, tea, and pop. Which… isn’t good. I have a nice little water intake tracker in my bullet journal and while I haven’t gotten my whole 8 cups of water a day in yet, I’m well on my way. It was particularly helpful when I found out that flavored sparkling water counts toward your daily intake. My favorite brand is Ice Mountain, and because I don’t particularly enjoy water on it’s own, I’ve been keeping fruit in my freezer and putting it into my water bottle each day. Pineapple, strawberry, and mango is a lovely combination.
Not Your Mother’s Dry Shampoo & Hair Straightening Spray
I swear by dry shampoo and this brand has been fantastic. It’s affordable, doesn’t leave a weird texture in my hair, and actually helps to liven it up. Then, the same line has a hair straightening spray and it is the ACTUAL BEST I’ve ever tried. You just spritz it on your hair before blow drying and it leaves my hair so silky and smooth. It’s the closest I’ve gotten to having it as smooth as it is after I go to the salon and I’m in love.
Yes… I realize that I’m like 30 years behind the game. (Okay… more like 10ish years but you get the idea.) When I was in high school and college and everyone else in the world was wearing these boots I just never understood it and wore whatever I could afford. Well, this winter has been brutal here in Chicago. It. Is. Cold. On top of the ridiculous cold, we also had a couple of weeks where we were slammed with ice and snow and sleet and basically every combination of winter weather you could think of. My tall fake leather boots I was wearing every day just weren’t going to cut it.
I found a pair of discounted boots online and thought I’d give them a shot. Thankfully, I tried them on in the store and they were too small. So, I perused the shelves and there were a pair of UGGs in my size. I tried them on because I was curious. “Surely they’re not SO GREAT that they’re worth how much more expensive they are than the ones I’d already picked.”
Well… I was wrong. They were amazing. They’re so much warmer than my other boots and the tread has been great on the ice and snow. So, I splurged and now I live in them.
My Bullet Journal
I’ve tried bullet journaling on and off but was never able to to fully keep up with it. I’m terrible at drawing and i wanted my journal to look as cute as everyone else’s that I saw on Pinterest. So, I switched to a planner which already looked pretty and I could add stickers. But, I still wanted a journal to jot down notes, work on brainstorming, and organize other elements of my life. I kind of half-assed my journal and it wasn’t super organized.
When a friend of mine started a bullet journal she kept on sharing all of her cute layouts and designs and it made me wish I’d given it a fair try. I found some simple ways to make mine look cute and put more thought into the layouts I’d actually use. Now, I love it! I still use my planner and my journal might not look as elaborate and cute as some others, but it’s still pretty fantastic. I might do a separate blog post on how I’ve been using it at a later date.
How was everyone else’s February? Read, watch, or listen to anything you truly loved? Any recs for me? Do you bullet journal?
Like what you read? Consider buying me a coffee.