January Recap: Recentering on diverse reviews, on love, and Happy Lunar New Year!

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Good morning, good afternoon, or good evening friends. 😊

I hope all of you have had a splendid start to 2017. My January has been filled with a lot of relaxing, a little bit of working, and a few adventures! But it’s the end of January and my time to go back to university is fast approaching, which means that there will be some small changes to Read Think Ponder… read on to find out more. 💕

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Books read in January (and my thoughts in three words)

1. Dreamology by Lucy Keating – cute, fluffy contemporary

2. Flying Lessons and Other Stories anthology edited by Ellen Oh – inspiring, authentic, wonderful

3. The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi – flowery, imaginative, magical

4. Aristotle and Dante Discover The Secrets of The Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz – meaning, outstanding everythings

5. The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler – developed but slow

6. The Land of Forgotten Girls by Erin Entrada Kelly – heartfelt, celebrates sisterhood

7. When The Sea Turned To Silver by Grace Lin – incredible adventure, wondrous

8. Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee – remarkable, emotional, powerful

9. The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo – dreamy, otherworldly, wonderful

Short stories:

10. Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers by Alyssa Wong – good kinda creepy

11. A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers by Alyssa Wong – heartwrecking and complex

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Reviews and posts in January

1. RECAP: 2016 At A Glance & Onward to 2017! – I talk about my favourites of 2016 – books, posts, moments – and then onward to 2017 – goals and anticipated releases!

2. REVIEW: Frostblood by Elly Blake – I celebrate this book’s birthday by posting my review. Frostblood is a guilty pleasure and a fun YA fantasy-romance!

3. FEATURE: Diversity Spotlight #5 – Keeping up with themes, I feature three books that have a m/m romance!

4. BOOK RECS: Introducing Festive Book Recs: I need your help! – I talk a little bit about my new feature where I invite book bloggers/readers to recommend books to celebrate a festival/holiday important to their identity!

5. BOOK RECS: Fantasies by Asian Authors – I have been reading more books by Asian authors lately, so I shared some of my new finds!

vicious

6. REVIEW: Vicious by V.E. Schwab – This was one of my favourite reads of 2016; a heart-stopping and action-packed book with morally gray characters and a paranormal twist.

7. FEATURE: Diversity Spotlight #6 – On this week, I share three books that have Indian protagonists or are inspired by Indian mythology.

8. FESTIVE BOOK RECS: Happy Lunar New Year! – I had the honour of having three fantastic bloggers share some great books to celebrate Lunar New Year.

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Blog Update

Better book titles + books I won’t be reviewing

First thing and it’s not a big deal: Rather than titling book reviews as the book’s name and its author, I will also describe the book in a few words – like a preview of my thoughts!

Second, I had 35 book reviews on backlog, but I have (finally) decided to not write and publish reviews for every single one of them. The book reviews I will not reviewing will be books that I just do not care much about or are non-diverse. I want my blog to reflect my commitment to diversity immediately, so I want to see more reviews of diverse books pronto.

The books I will now not be reviewing are: The Siren; Mechanica; 2001: A Space Odyssey; Flamecaster; Black, White, and Other: In Search for Nina Armstrong; Seraphina; The Book of Ivy; The Reader; This is How You Lose Her; American-Born Chinese; Aerie; Saving Montgomery Sole; and Dreamology. If you are interested in my thoughts, I have written bullet-pointed reviews of each book, which you can read if you follow my Goodreads.

My activity on Twitter

I recently uninstalled the Twitter app from my phone.

And honestly? Even though it was a hard thing for me to do (I felt so scared about feeling disconnected), it has already had a positive effect on me. I have this terrible sense of need to check things all the time, and I was constantly checking Twitter whenever I had a moment.

Checking really affected the level of engagement I had with my partner whenever I was out with him. I was distracted and not present. My mind was always somewhere else. After removing Twitter, I was more engaged. I had more fun. I felt more connected to him. I was present in my conversations with him. Twitter was becoming a distraction, affecting me even when I was offline, and was beginning to diminish my attention and mindfulness.

So, I won’t be as active on Twitter anymore. I’ll still tweet, still use it to share my posts, and engage whenever I can. I’ll still access Twitter at the end of the day and be engaged then, but I don’t want to carry the community and its buzz (and, let’s be honest, its mess) in my pocket anymore. This will stay this way for the foreseeable future.

A shorter recap

In the past, I did very long recaps, but to minimize some stress – particularly since I don’t want to set a high-standard precedent for when I return to university – I’ll be simplifying these recap posts.

I’ll still talk about books I’ve read, list all the posts published in each month, and maybe give a few updates or life updates. In the past, I did highlighted posts around the community, which I will do whenever I can, but it’s not on my priority list. I hope you understand. ❤

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Snapshots of my life

Actual snapshots, no rambles (but let’s be real, I’ll probably ramble):

1. I am still not over Your Name / Kimi No Na Wa. I listen to the OSTs EVERY DAY and I just think about its themes and the story and the beauty of love.

2. I have been thinking a lot about how we crave media that doesn’t center on love. A part of me craves it too, craves a story that explores an individual’s personal and emotional journey without love in the equation.
But then, there are days when I look at my partner and I think that love is one of the most beautiful things in the world. There are days when I look at my baby sister (she’s not that much of a baby but she always will be to me) or my parents or my friends, and I think where I would be without them? Almost all narratives celebrate love; some are wonderful, some are meaningless, but the fact that we love love reflects something innate about being human. And there’s no shame in that at all.

3. My summer this year has been really wonderful. I’ve gone on adventures and I’ll be going on another soon in mid-February, I spent a lot of time with my family and my friends, I’ve tried so many new things, and I feel healthy.

4. Have any of my dear readers ever played MapleStory? I played so much when I was in my early teens, and I have a lot of fond memories of it. I recently found this compilation of old OSTs, which you may find very nostalgic. The comments in the video even more so. I think there’s something very poignant about how, in our modern day of age, the objects attached to our innocence and youth can be a game — I don’t think there’s anything shameful or sad about it. I think it’s actually kinda wonderful.

5. Chinese New Year has been wonderful so far – lots of good food and lots of time spent with family, friends, and loved ones. As I grow older, Chinese New Year has been less of a time I get red envelopes and more of a time where I treasure and appreciate my family, our traditions, and the very precious times we spend all together. Growing older has made me more awareness that things will not be the same forever — I try not to dwell on the sadness of this, which is something I really struggle with, and am – I have to admit – doing a good job at focusing on the joys of the present.

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And that’s it for this month! I will be going on holiday in mid-February, so I won’t be very active during that time. I’ve organized some scheduled posts, so those will still go up! ❤

Until the next recap, make February a month full of positive change and encourage discourse and discussion. We need it more than ever. To my US friends, my Muslim friends, my immigrant friends, my Native/Indigenous friends, I am with you, I support you, and I am behind you in resistance.

  • How was your January? How are you?
  • Did you discover a new favourite book in January?
  • If you have posted a recap post, send me a link! I’d love to check it out, read it, and drop a comment. 😊
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47 thoughts on “January Recap: Recentering on diverse reviews, on love, and Happy Lunar New Year!

  1. Beautiful reading & life recap. (Glad to see more people read Alyssa Wong’s work too!)

    It’s fun to share a few thoughts on GR – I want to return to doing that too. I agree that it helps with time-management. I’m also happy that you’re channeling energy into what matters to you.

    *whispers – I also uninstalled the twitter app last month. I have a lot of free time at the moment, so I’m online but I feel more refreshed & grounded when I’m not constantly checking it too.

    Random note – I remember my brother used all of our memory on the old chunky computer to play computer games like Maple Story. Will shared the playlist with him =)

    Last note – Wishing you the best at university + a Happy Lunar New Year! (No worries about the drop in activity – I did the same when I was studying but also feel free to DM/email if you ever need to talk.)

    • Thank you Glaiza! Alyssa Wong’s work is amazing. I can’t wait to see more of her work. ❤

      Thank you. ❤ I’m glad too, and am glad for you too. I feel much better and less weighed down. When I feel more able to handle the stress of Twitter, I’ll come back. :)

      Hahaha! Please pass it onto him! It’ll be either cringey or nostalgic. ❤

      Thank you so much! I’ll remember that and you’ll be my go-to. :)

  2. I am that your making changes for the better CW! I feel you with the Twitter negativity – I feel like reducing my time on their has made my life a lot more calm. I’m so excited to see what posts you have in store!

  3. I have also noticed a link between Twitter and productivity on my blog and have started setting timers to prevent me from staying on too long. I agree with you on distraction and Twitter. I was also wondering where you watched Kimi no na wa because I really really want to watch it now that I know it exists, but I’m not sure how to legally.

    • Hi Kaeley!

      That’s such a good idea. I still access Twitter via my desktop, which, I noticed today, takes up a lot of time as well.

      I’m very fortunate and Kimi No Na Wa was available in our theatres! I saw it three times because I loved it so much. The DVD will come out on October 30th this year — which is sooo far away. :(

  4. I am so glad you enjoyed THE GHOST BRIDE. It’s a book I wish more people knew about, as it is so lovely and otherworldly – and you’re right, the customs and everything are really accessible without being too over-explained.

    • Hey Catherine!

      Agreed! It was really nice, even for me and I am familiar with the customs. It was a nice bonus though – now I can recommend it to people who want to read diversely (specifically books with my culture) and want something accessible. :D

  5. Happy chinese new year! I agree, as I get older it becomes more a way to celebrate the tradition and meet distant relatives rather than about the money. I really want to read TSTQ, I hope I can get to it soon! Also I’m happy for you about uninstalling twitter. I never have it on my phone (it’s just too full of negativity for me to keep checking on it) but I feel the same about instagram, and uninstalling it is one of the best decision I ever made. It made me focused more on my studies and less on scrolling pictures :D

    • Happy Chinese New Year, Tasya!

      Ah yes, I agree! It’s more of family and tradition than receiving red packets now. I’m glad that I got to see things more clearly as I got older, and I’m thankful my parents instilled these beliefs in me.

      Haha that’s great! It’s amazing how much time you spend on apps without realizing. Always good to balance and to take steps to achieve that balance. :)

  6. I love that you’re really focusing on diverse books now – I used to review every book that I read, but I think that once I focused on diversity my blog got a lot better! You’ve got such a distinct blogging voice as well – the diverse blogging community is privileged to have you :-)

    Also props to you for uninstalling twitter – I don’t think I could do that! But yeah, my partner gets a bit annoyed with me when I tweet all the time instead of interacting properly. I should really cut down on it.

    Finally LOL I got so confused when you said you’d been having a great summer! Silly me.

    • Hi Wendy!!

      Thank you so much. Forgoing all the other books I had wanted to review has been a weight off my shoulders. And I agree! For me, there are a lot of books that already have tons of reviews for them, but I want to spend my time highlighting and sharing diverse ones. ❤
      Oh gosh, thank you!! That means a lot to me. ;_; I’ll continue doing my best to contribute!

      Haha thank you! It was HARD – I had no idea I felt so invested in an app. But now that I have, it’s good. :)

      HAHA yeah! Though, our summer has been very late – it’s February now and we’re starting to get the good weather. December was terrible. D:

      • You’re brilliant! I totally agree with highlighting books that are lesser-known. The idea that I can persuade someone to read a book they’ve never heard of before makes me so happy :-)

        Yeah, I think when my exams roll around I’m going to get rid of the app – maybe that’ll encourage me to be on it less generally.

  7. Lovely post! All your snapshots are so sweet and heartwarming and I really hope you have a good holiday!
    Mmm yes I feel you re: Twitter, taking a break has been good for me too, though as you’re aware I’ve hopped back on a few times, recently XD it’s definitely tricky to find that balance because I’m certainly missing talking to my book Twitter friends when I’m not on for an extended period, but also don’t want it to interfere with life/engagement… waiting until the end of the day to get on it sounds good!

  8. Such a great recap, I always love reading your posts. And It’s so good about being able to disconnect a bit – I wish I could do that more, but in my situation I kind of need to connect haha, but well…it’s crazy to see how much we are glued to our phone apps at times and missing out on the people around us. YAY for more connection with the people around us :)

    • Hi Marie!!

      Aw thank you. I’m glad to hear you enjoy reading them – I enjoy writing them!! :D

      Ah yes, I understand what you mean. :( *hugs* Take extra care!

      I agree!! Particularly when people eat together; they’re ‘with’ each other but not really with each other. But, I guess I don’t know what they’re going through so I can’t say much.

      YAY indeed!! I feel so much happier after disconnecting. :)

  9. Ahhh I’m so glad you loved Vicious! It’s probably one of my favourite reads as well of 2016 – just captivating from start to finish with really, really interesting characters.

    RE: Disconnecting from Twitter is something that I’ve done pretty much since a couple of weeks (even months?) ago and it’s really helped me make more “breathing space” in my own mind. I hope it will do the same for you, and that you feel more “present” in your life.

    I admit, growing older has made me more aware that nothing is ever permanent too and it really, really scares me. With my parents living in Indonesia and my partner/life in Australia, I have some tough decisions to make in my future and honestly have been stalling making them (which is probably a decision in itself), but I worry that I’ll come to regret my actions today in maybe like 20, 30 years. It’s terrifying and I struggle with it almost daily, so I think it’s good that you’ve learned to not dwell on it. I hope to be the same, eventually.

    Also super happy to hear that you’re feeling healthier and happier! Here’s to that becoming the norm for the rest of the year. <3

    • REG! ❤

      I completely agree about Vicious. I’m a little excited but also a little apprehensive about reading the sequel. Vicious was so good on its own so I don’t know how a sequel could deliver. BUT, I’m hopeful too.

      Thank you. ❤ I’m already feeling the positive effects of disconnecting from my phone, and I only come online when I feel ready and prepared to read whatever I read.

      Aw, I’m so sorry. *hugs* I completely understand where you are coming from, and that sounds really difficult. As age is teaching us, we can’t predict what will happen, but all we can do is make the most of every moment and do what we think its best and trust in ourselves to make those decisions. ❤ For me, I’m scared but I’m scared while doing it. I think that helps me move along.

      Thank you so much! All my best wishes to you too. ❤

  10. CW, I’ll definitely miss chatting with you on Twitter, I don’t know how well connect otherwise but I definitely understand your need to disconnect. I should try to do the same because news is driving me crazy and I don’t want to stop loving because of that.
    I can’t wait to see how all those changes will make your blog even more amazing than it is, you’re honestly such an inspiration to me ❤️

    • Hi Sara! ❤

      Aw, thank you. I’ll still be popping in every once in awhile, but if I’m not on a laptop, I won’t be accessing Twitter. And, IF I go online, I’ll be emotionally prepared to read whatever I read. I think the balance is working for me right now. :)

      Aw Sara, that means the world to me. ❤❤ I’m so happy and grateful to call you my friend!

  11. This is amazing wrap-up my friend ❤❤ you’ve had such a wonderful month and I hope the rest of your year will be as good if not better !
    Also, I’ll be shifting my blog’s attention to diverse books simply because that’s what I’m mainly reading now and those are the books I really care about 😊 though I have a few reviews to get out before that really shows on my blog.
    Anyway, GREAT THINGS AHEAD CW AND I’M SO FREAKING EXCITED FOR YOU ❤

  12. This is an amazing recap, CW, I love reading it! :) first thing first, congratulation on going back to university! I’m also looking forward for my own post grad study but it’s still at least a year away because right now I have to focus on my job ahaha what will you be studying, if you don’t mind me asking? :D your commitment to diversity is inspiring! I personally plan to create a new monthly feature for diversity but I’m still figuring out the details haha also I feel the same with twitter! I have this need to constantly check it and uninstalling might be a good idea :P I also agree with your take on love in literature! I am one of those people who don’t mind the story that focuses on love, even romance, because that’s the way life is and let’s be honest, it’s exciting and fun to ship your characters hahaha anyway, have a wonderful February! <3

    • Hi Puput!

      Thank you so much! I’m really excited to return. I’m excited for you too! I waited 2.5 years before going back to study, so it’s been a long time coming.

      I’m doing Honours (pretty much a bridge between undergrad and Masters) in Psychology! So I’m very excited to finally pursue my passion.

      Haha I agree regarding your thoughts on romance! I think the tropes/themes themselves aren’t bad – just a matter of how they are executed. So, I don’t really mind love triangles or insta-loves because I know people who have gone through that stuff.

      Thank you! I hope you have a splendid February too!! ❤

      • OOHHHH I have a bachelor degree in psychology too and also looking forward to study for my master in psychology :D What major are you gonna be in? Clinical? Educational? I’M EXCITED FOR YOU hahaha <3 exactly! Even the most annoying, overused trope could be great if executed properly :D

        • Ah that’s so cool!

          And I don’t have a specialization – I’m doing the general Honours year so I’ll be doing a variety. My dissertation will be in social psychology though, specifically in intimate relationships. We’ll see how that goes!!

          Thank you!! I’m very excited too. ❤

  13. This is a lovely recap post! I can’t even find time to blog so I haven’t got anything of this sort, haha. But I love reading this, and I’m so glad to see your Fantasies by Asian Authors post! Weirdly enough, I already have two of those books on my list and it’s just finding time to schedule them in!

    • Hi Gemma!

      Thank you so much! ❤ Fair enough – blogging can be so so timeconsuming and sometimes thankless, so I understand completely.

      Ah that’s wonderful! All the books are fantastic. I hope you enjoy them if you ever got around to reading them. ❤

  14. I struggle with writing creative titles for book reviews. :( I want to try but don’t want to make them too long and a handful of words is kind of limiting. Looking forward to see what you come up with!
    Not placing pressure to review every book you read is very important! If I had 35 books to review, I would be overwhelmed and probably not motivated to write reviews for any of them.
    I’m glad you had a wonderful January. Have a great holiday this February! <3

    • Hi Naz!

      Hahaha, I won’t lie, I did sit on my butt for 30 minutes trying to think of a title for Kindred! It was just so good so finding a title that did it justice was a challenge.

      You’re right! And that happened to me. So I think this decision to forgo books I don’t have any passion for is a good move.

      Thank you! I’m looking forward to my holiday. I hope you have a good Feb too!

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