As per tradition, I have to begin this monthly recap with the age-old question: how the heck is it already February?
This month was Black History Month, which is not a part of my country’s history, but to a lot of my friends and followers, it is a part of yours. All my book reviews this month, my Book Recs post, and a Diversity Thursday Spotlight was dedicated to Black History Month, wherein I highlighted and shared books by black authors.
Books read this month (and my thoughts in three words)
1. Binti by Nnedi Okorafor – imaginative, exciting Afrofuturism
2. Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson – masterfully told poems
3. Kindred by Octavia Butler – powerful, complex, iconic
4. Ms Marvel Vol 1: No Normal by G Willow Wilson – gave me hope
5. Promise of Shadows by Justina Ireland – action-packed & fun
6. If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo – emotional, important, heart-breaking
7. Born Confused by Tanuja Desai Hidier – nuanced but long
Reviews and posts in February
1. MINI-REVIEWS: Short Stories, Vanquishers of Book Slumps! – My remedy to a book slump is a good short story! Consider picking up a diverse one – I recommend three in this post!
2. REVIEW: Flying Lessons and Other Stories edited by Ellen Oh – I adored this anthology; it had so much talent and contained some powerful narrative voices. All of you need to read this.
3. FEATURE: Diversity Thursday Spotlight #7 – To celebrate Chinese New Year, I highlight three books, all by Asian authors. 💝
4. BOOK RECS: Books by Black Authors – To commemorate Black History Month, I share four fantastic books written by black authors. One of the books that I recommended was my favourite book of February!
5. REVIEW: Kindred by Octavia Butler – I loved this book so much – it was so raw, powerful, and illuminated on a dark time of America’s past. An absolute must-read.
7. FOR FUN: The Great Re-Rate – So, I decided to go through Goodreads and re-rate a handful of books. Read this to see my changes and my justifications. My GR average is not pretty.
Reminder: I’ll be kinda MIA, maybe, most likely
I know I talk about this all the time because – let’s face it, I feel like a 5 year old about to go to her first day of school – but I won’t be as active and responsive when the semester starts (6th March)!
I don’t know whether I’ll continue posting, don’t know how busy I’ll be, but I’ll be making university my absolute priority. Let’s see how it goes first, but if I’m not active, you know why.
Commemorating Black History Month
Black History Month isn’t part of my country’s history, but it is a part of many of yours — and that is enough for me.
If you didn’t read any books by black authors in February, remember that you do not need to read something only when an event or commemoration calls for it! I identified that there was a gap in my reading when it came to books by black authors, so I endeavored to rectify that in February and will continue to read more in the future. If you are interested in reading books by black authors, the below might help!
- My reviews of Flying Lessons and Other Stories (several contributors are black authors!), Kindred, and my review for Brown Girl Dreaming will be out sometime next week!
- My Book Recs post for this month centered on books by black authors
- Next week, I’ll be publishing a Diversity Thursday Spotlight featuring black authors (it was supposed to go up this week, but unfortunately I couldn’t publish it)!
- There’s a fantastic list created by The BookAvid highlighting books by black authors in 2016 & 2017
Movies I’ve watched and my Thoughts™
For some reason, I watched a lot of movies this month. The movies below are movies I watched for the first time (except for one). Here are my thoughts. Recommended movies have been bolded.
1. La La Land
Watched it to see what the fuss was about. I went in expecting not to liking it, but I… actually liked it. I really connected with Emma Stone’s character and her struggle to pursue her dream in the arts. The ending was predictable (but sad) and the music was mostly lacklustre too. Do I think it was a good movie? Yeah. Do I think it deserves all those nominations and awards? Not at all. La La Land is a prime example of Oscar bait – a self-gratuitous movie about Hollywood, for Hollywood. It won’t stand the test of time and will be forgotten in due time like The Artist.
2. A Monster Calls
I read the book, loved it, so was curious about the adaptation. While it was a faithful adaptation and the movie did a good job at capturing the feel and imagery of the book, some parts didn’t need to be spelled out to the audience (which the book did not); it took away all subtlety and that ‘rewatch’ factor. The animation for the stories were wonderful though, and I loved how it captured that fairytale feel. All in all, a decent movie but only good once.
3. 12 Angry Men
Oh boy, this movie was so, so good. I didn’t think a courtroom drama – classic or no – could be so compelling, but holy hell, 12 Angry Men was compelling. The characters’ backstories and character developments were so well done. I loved the ethical, logical, moral, and emotional ideas and themes this movie explored, and I was surprised – and a little heartbroken – following the ending. A fantastic film and a classic for a reason.
4. The Grey
I watched this because my partner liked this movie, and I really enjoyed it. Well, maybe ‘enjoy’ isn’t a good word, but I really connected with it and found myself really invested in the narrative. At face-value, this book can be taken as a survival film, but underneath, I think it’s a poignant narrative about mortality, the inevitability of death, and what people do in the face of it. Though I didn’t love it as much as my boyfriend did, it was a somber, provocative, and sobering movie.
5. Forrest Gump
I read a lot about this movie after watching it, and acknowledge that Forrest’s portrayal as a person with an intellectual disability is overly simplistic and problematic. Because this movie is beloved by many (and don’t get me wrong, I can see why), it is very difficult to criticize this movie because people absolutely resist any criticisms of this movie. I enjoyed the film though.
6. Dr Strangelove: Or How I Stopped Worrying and Learned To Love the Bomb
Uh… meh? I feel like I didn’t really enjoy this because the context of the film isn’t really relevant to my history. There were some funny lines but overall… meh? Don’t @ me.
7. Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark
I really enjoyed this, and enjoyed seeing where all these popular tropes came from. There were definitely some problems with the film, and I side-eyed its portrayal of women and indigenous peoples, but it was a compelling action film.
8. The Edge of Seventeen
I… really, really, really enjoyed this. Maybe because I really sympathized with Nadine’s awkwardness and feeling lost and confused and hurt and how messy she was. (Weren’t we all messy as teenagers?) I didn’t like how depression was portrayed in the film, and wish it was handled better. Aside from that, I adored Erwin – every moment he was on screen, my sister and I squealed. (He’s Korean in the film but he’s actually Chinese? Not 100% ok with that, but I was just happy with the Asian rep.)
9. Scott Pilgrim Vs The World
Mindnumbing, terrible – don’t even ask me about it. But, in a few words: contains the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope, racism (re: Asian characters), sexism (re: female characters), and homophobia. Give this a miss.
I don’t think the movie is anything remarkable, but the drama was good and I enjoyed it. In a few words, it’s Sandra Bullock going through shit over and over again for 90 minutes. I loved how Cuarón captured space – something so incomprehensibly vast, dangerous, and consuming. The movie is very, very scientifically inaccurate though.
11. Ruby Sparks
I had wanted to watch this movie for a long, long time but never got the chance to. I watched it on the plane and was really disappointed. The premise was interesting, but jeez, I hated the ending so much. It could’ve been such a good film, but the ending and its treatment of the characters and story was terrible. I actually found some parts (particularly the climax of the film) absolutely horrifying to watch. So frustrating.
12. Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them
I watched this on the plane as well, and I thought it was… okay. I enjoyed Newt’s character and the expanded universe and mythology, but thought the story and other characters was lacking. This is definitely a movie for fans of Harry Potter (new and old) and still crave something more from the franchise.
And that’s it for today! I’m still feeling a jetlagged and feeling a little disorientated after coming back, but hopefully things will return to normal soon. I may take a brief hiatus while I give myself time to relax and time to get back into it. As university begins very soon, I’ve managed to prepare two months worth of content, which I hope will help ease the pressure. Phew!
- How was your February? Did anything new or exciting happen in your life?
- Did you discover a new favourite book in February?
- If you have posted a recap post, send me a link! I’d love to check it out, read it, and drop a comment. 😊