In the whole of January 2019, I was able to read 10 books. Some of you might think, “Wow! You’re amazing!” or “Wow, you must be a really fast reader”. Well, I am usually a fast reader, but also at the same time, I was mostly still on break at the first half of January, hence the amount of time I had to read. Anyway, here’s a summary of all the books I read last month!

“Like Lines On a Map” by Isa Garcia

Isa Garcia is a professor at my college who has been my teacher since I was a Freshman. She was my English professor, my Communication Arts professor, Creative Writing (nonfiction) and Literature I and II. I don’t remember how we became close. I always felt at ease talking to her, but it might have been around my 2nd year of college when I was taking her Literature I class that we became so close that I would have to remind myself that there is still a line I shouldn’t cross… unless she’s cool with it.
Ms. Isa always said she wasn’t a fiction writer — or at least, that it wasn’t her specialty. “Like Lines On a Map” is basically her life story, simplified to a few heartbreaking and eye-opening essays, and put together in a single book. “Like Lines On a Map” is her 2nd book. I remember being so excited when this book came out, even though I haven’t read her first book yet. When I bought my copy from her, she told me to just ignore her 1st book, “Found”, and just read this one cause it was “so much better”. I told her I didn’t care. She wrote two books, and so I will read both.

Every year, my family and I always go out of the country for Christmas. Last December of 2018, we went to Hawaii. Hawaii = beach, and so what do I have in my TBR pile that would be a really good beach read? In the end, I decided to bring both of Ms. Isa’s books and the reason why “Like Lines On a Map” is in this list and not “Found” is because, even though I started it in December, I finished this book in early January the day after my flight back home to Manila.

Reading this under the Hawaiian sun, on the beach of Waikiki will forever be one of my favorite reading experiences. Reading it in that setting just helped me visualize everything so much more. It didn’t matter that Justin Bieber was a couple of feet away from me (yes, he and Hailey Bieber were there and I have the photo to prove it), listening to my “Good Vibes” playlist, backed up by the sound of the waves, it was just so beautiful.

Laundry after a long trip is a normal routine. While waiting for my loads of laundry to finish, I pulled up a chair and read the 2nd half of the book. Can you imagine a girl, dressed in PJ’s, holding this book to her chest, and just crying her eyes out. That was me. That was what this book did to me.

After my dramatic movie moment that lasted for about a minute or two, I typed out a really long message on the Notes app on my phone, and when I was satisfied, I sent it to Ms. Isa. Along with the recommendation that she listens to “Beloved” by Mumford and Sons. Read the book and you’ll understand why.

“Like Lines On A Map” by Isa Garcia

“Queen of Shadows” by Sarah J. Maas

I tried to have a binge-reading week of the entire Throne of Glass series last October before I read the last book, “Kingdom of Ash”, which had just recently come out at the time. Unfortunately, after staying up until 6 am for three days straight and then getting up at 6:30 am to go to school, by the time I got to “Queen of Shadows”, the 4th book, I burned out. I could NOT go on anymore. School was hard enough, coffee could only do so much, and it just wasn’t healthy anymore. Well, it wasn’t healthy at the start to begin with, but… I have no defense, just don’t judge me.

I read this years ago when it first came out. All the books until “Empire of Storms” I had already read, but since it’s been so long, and I had forgotten a lot of details — hell, I even forgot who the antagonist was, I thought it was just about time for a re-read. Reading the whole series after knowing what the hell is going to happen gives you a lot of new insight. When I first read it, I read it in terms of story. But now, having gone through literature classes, playwriting classes, text-analysis classes (you’re required to take classes like this as a Theatre major, okay), I’m able to read and not just be entertained, but now I’m able to analyze. So when I re-read it, I realized just how much of a genius SJM really is. All that foreshadowing, all the clues, the hints, they were all there! She obviously plotted out the entire story first, somehow came up with where to put little plots, the smallest details mentioned in the earlier books, turns out to be a really BIG hint. I won’t go into details, but if you haven’t read this series yet, I strongly suggest you take your time to take everything in when you do.

Before reading “Queen of Shadows”, you HAVE to read “The Assassin’s Blade” first. Why? Because “Queen of Shadows” includes Celaena’s life before the events of “Throne of Glass”, and would be very confusing without having read the prequel first. I know some people haven’t read “The Assassin’s Blade” and were able to get by, but like it gets very confusing because the things that are referencing “The Assassin’s Blade”, doesn’t get explained further on, so I STRONGLY recommend you read it first before reading “Queen of Shadows” and any book after that.

“Empire of Storms” by Sarah J. Maas

Like “Queen of Shadows” and the other books before it, I had already read this before, but like previously mentioned, I re-read this for the sake of being able to better understand the finale, since I barely remember the specifics of what happened in the books and thought it would be beneficial to me to just re-read the entire series.

I finished this amazing book in two days. You’re able to read a lot when you’re stuck to a salon chair, having your hair straightened for like 3-4 hours. This book is a perfect example of why I usually wait for a series to be completed first before I start reading it in case I fall in love with it. I read “Empire of Storms” way back in 2016 when it came out. (Tiny spoiler + profanity alert) this book ended with a frickin cliffhanger. A MAJOR cliffhanger. And then I had to wait TWO FUCKING YEARS to find out what happened. Yeah, she came out with a book for this series the year after that (which I will tackle in a bit), but it doesn’t talk about the events that happen after “Empire of Storms”, it shows the events of a different set of characters DURING “Empire of Storms”.

But like this book just brought a whole lot of new perspectives on our favourite characters, some mature action with a lot of them, a whole lot of throwing shade at each other, 4/6 of the most badass female characters shown in this series all together in one fucking boat, and Dorian possibly slightly breaking the 4th wall. It brought out all the feels, made me rip my hair out in stress, and just broke my heart holy hell, again, this is a good example of why I wait for the series to be complete first before I even think about picking it up.

“Tower of Dawn” by Sarah J. Maas

“Tower of Dawn” is the 6th book of the “Throne of Glass” series. This is the book that takes place simultaneously with “Empire of Storms”. After EoS, I just wanted to skip to the last book and find out what happens with that frickin cliffhanger, but noooooooo, SJM just had to come up with another book in-between. At first, I thought reading this installment of the series wasn’t necessary — that I didn’t need to read it to understand the finale. Holy crap was I wrong. Right before reading this, I heard from Booktube that this book brings a whole bout of new information regarding the Valgs, and adds so much more to the world where the series takes place in.

After reading it, I realized it wasn’t just a book wherein SJM gave out a hella lot of new information that makes you go “WTF???”, it’s a redemption arc for one of the characters. Not only is it a redemption arc, but we get to see a character from “The Assassin’s Blade”, the prequel. In this book, we see what happened to this character — what happened after our favorite protagonist saved this person’s life and if it was for the better or for the worse.

“Kingdom of Ash” by Sarah J. Maas

… where in the hell do I start with this bitch?

Okay, when you say “epic finale”, “epic” is an understatement. I was on the edge of my seat almost the whole time. My butt started to hurt so I would have to change positions. It got harder to read during the climax. Only because so much was happening, that I kept going back and forth so that I could really understand what was happening. Not only that, but I had to ignore my mother screaming my name so I could focus on reading.

There is only so much I could tell you without spoiling you. All I can tell you is that my heart broke, I cried both happily and sadly, I yelled out of fear, I’m not religious but I started praying that someone wouldn’t die — I was very close to looking for the nearest rosary — that’s how scared I was. If you watch “Game of Thrones” and are constantly worried about your favorite characters, this would give you the exact same feel.

This book was just my number one favorite out of all the books I read in January, and might just be one of my top faves for the whole year.

(left to right) “Queen of Shadows”, “Empire of Storms”, “Tower of Dawn”, and “Kingdom of Ash” by Sarah J. Maas

“Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda” by Becky Albertalli

If “Kingdom of Ash” was my #1 favorite in general for the month of January, “Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda” was also one of my favorites, and is probably my #1 favorite YA Contemporary novel for the month of January. This book was given to me as a birthday gift (well, one of. She gave me three books in total) from one of my closest friends, who is also a bibliophile. She gave me this book because she found it really cute, and heart-warming, and I agree with her 100%. This book just made me so happy that I almost cried. This book is a book EVERYONE needs to read (especially teens) regardless of what your sexual orientation is. It has a great story, great characters, a great takeaway, and I just love it so much.

After having finished the “Throne of Glass” series, I needed something lighthearted to get me going again so that I wouldn’t experience a “burn out”, and good thing I did because this book was just all the feels and made my heart heavy with delight!

I wrote a review about this book. Here’s the link! (link)
Right after reading it, I watched the movie and it was just as heartwarming. I felt so giddy and I could not stop squealing during the ferris wheel scene, like GAHHHH omg I’ll post a review on the movie soon!

“I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou

It’s very rare of me to read a nonfiction book. So far, when it comes to nonfiction, biographies, and memoirs are as far as I’ve gone. However, I’ve read two nonfiction books so far this year, namely, this one, and my first read of the year, “Like Lines On a Map”. Before reading this, I knew who Maya Angelou was, but I never really understood what she was famous for. I mean, I know she’s a writer, but I still didn’t quite understand what made her so different.

I found this book in the best seller’s table at my local bookstore a few weeks ago, and thought, “why not?” I bought it and it sat at my shelf for months, untouched (other than the time I reorganized my shelf), until a few weeks ago, when I did a poll as to which book I should read first: “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” vs “Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda”. The reason for this is because, after reading the “Throne of Glass” series, each book being so heavy and full of weight one after the other (literally and figuratively — that last book was MASSIVE… well, 900 pages long), I just needed something that was a little more lighthearted.

If you know this book, you know that it isn’t exactly “lighthearted”. To be honest, I just saw it sitting there (I hadn’t noticed my other options yet), and again, thought “why not?” So I did a poll on my IG story, and even though“Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda” won, I still read this book and I loved it. I now understand why Maya Angelou is such an icon — a household name. I can’t wait to read the other books she’s published before she died back in 2014.

(left to right) “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou, and “Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda” by Becky Albertalli

“Crazy Rich Asians” by Kevin Kwan

I hated it. I get why a lot of people like it, but god I hated it. I get that most of the characters are really written to be shallow, but there’s a difference between there being a “shallow character” and “writing a character shallowly”. I read this in preparation to watch the movie. Like, I did a poll on my IG story as to which book-turned-movie should I read first? And this won over “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before”, but I’ll get to more on that later. I was actually surprised this won. I think only 2 or 3 more people voted for this, but god it was just so bad. I actually skimmed a lot of it cause I was getting really bored and really annoyed.

My brother read this book and loved it, I have friends who read it and loved it, but I just hated it. I have a review post about this book here’s the link (link) if you want to know more of my thoughts about it.

“To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” by Jenny Han
Again. Ugh.
Lara Jean, Lara Jean. Was I the only one who found the “romance” unrealistic? Was I the only one who felt bad for Josh? It’s not that I wanted him and Lara Jean to get together, it’s more on the fact that I just found this book so shallow? I honestly only decided to read this, just so I could watch the movie with some peace of mind, but Lara Jean still annoyed me to no end. I have a review up and here’s the link (link) if you want to read it. I’ll also have a blog post about what I thought of the movie coming up soon.

(left to right) “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” by Jenny Han, and “Crazy Rich Asians” by Kevin Kwan

“Si Janus Sílang at ang Tiyanak ng Tábon” by Edgar Calabia Samar
I’m Filipino. I was born and raised here in the Philippines. However, my first language is English. My parents spoke to me in English when I was growing up and put me in an international school. The only time I learned how to speak Filipino was when I would go to my grandmother’s house where all my cousins spoke in Filipino, and we would only go once every few months, so it wasn’t exactly more than enough time for me to learn.
When I got to 3rd-year high school, I was so bad at the language that I failed the class. As in Filipino Literature. Kind of embarrassing yeah? And even when I was in 4th-year high school, I bought the English translations of the Filipino books we had to read (ily forever “Noli Me Tangere” and “El Filibusterismo”) just so that I would at least understand the story and not fail the class again.

So why is it that 4 years later, I decide to pick up a book written in Filipino? Cause I’m a crazy-ass mother fucking bitch that’s why.

Okay, no, not really, but it’s more on the fact that I’m about to graduate college, I’m about to go off in the real world, and the real world here in the Philippines means that not everyone speaks English, and obviously, I’m not going to survive if I keep going on the way I am. So this is the start of my journey to becoming more fluent in the language of my country.

Not only that, but lately here in the Philippines, people have been promoting the “go lokal” movement in terms of local artsy novelty items, such as stuffed toys, home decors, metal straws, stickers, etc., but why isn’t anyone supporting Filipino literature (other than the four major classics you’re forced to read in school and/or anything written by Jose Rizal)?

“Si Janus Silang at ang Tiyanak ng Tábon” by Edgar Calabia Samar

Anyway, about the book haha. As I mentioned, Filipino isn’t my first language, so that means I had a lot of difficulties reading this book. I almost gave up at first, but thankfully, I had enough resolve in me to push through and I actually finished it! This became the first ever Filipino novel I finished (and I am not counting the ones I was forced to read for school) and I don’t think I could be any prouder of myself. I have a blog post up about this book, so here’s the link (link) if you want to check it out!

So this is my January 2019 book-venture! Like and follow if you wanna see more!

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