Monthly Look-Back ~ May 2022

May felt like it lasted all of two weeks and came to a sudden end. Really, I could have sworn that I was just settling into things for the month and now it’s over? Feels kind of rude, honestly.

Still, it felt like a lot happened in May. How that’s possible, I don’t know. Anyways, I should get started before this becomes a spiral of me not understanding the social construct of time once again.

Living

First thing that happened in the month was getting my closet doors covered in contact paper. They used to be alternating medium and light blues, which I distinctly did not like. It made the room feel far too young and looked really strange in photos.

After some trouble finding contact paper that was what I wanted, I found some and proceeded to spend four hours covering doors and fighting with rusty screws. There’s still a spot on the closet that needs to be covered, as well as the surrounding blue paneling. I can do it, I’ve just been really lazy.

I revived the Facebook page I made ages ago when turning my Bookstagram account into a business account. I think I needed the Facebook page to create custom location titles or something. It was basically left unused though I did occasionally play around with it.

Early in May, I decided that it would be a good place to regularly connect and post my Bookstagram and blog content. It’s mostly to share what I work on with the people I know in my personal life who aren’t subscribed to my blog or have an Instagram account.

It’s been an interesting process, trying to schedule links to my recent blog posts. I’m not great at using Facebook for…anything, so I’ll probably have to look up some tutorials to learn what I’m actually supposed to be doing.

Getting that set up made me want to work on my blog more. I managed to set up a few pages of reviews from past years. A good amount of the work to finish setting them up has already been done, it just takes sitting down and copying stuff for a long time. The pages look a lot nicer though.

Over a year after seeing a recipe for chai syrup on someone’s IG story, I finally got around to trying it. There was trial and error, mostly that it was far too sweet the first time and required me to make a second batch to dilute the sugar. It’ll take a few more attempts to really get it right, but I’ve been enjoying having iced chai on hot days.

One of my church friends, Liyun, invited me to her place for board games twice during May. I’m not the biggest board game player, but it felt like a good way to make more friends and get out of the house more. I’m really glad that I went cause I had a lot of fun both times and would absolutely do it again.

There’s something really fun about board games that I can’t quite explain. Even though I never seek them out to play on my own, I do enjoy learning new ones that aren’t incredibly time consuming or result in arguments. Plus, I played one game that I would actually buy to play with other friends in the future.

The absolute most exciting thing that happened in May was getting to meet Joel and Luke Smallbone from For King & Country. Jemi and I had gotten tickets to see their concert back in 2020, but with the international shut-down, the show was pushed til May of this year.

Since we had VIP tickets, Jemi got to meet them after the concert and FaceTimed me, so I got to meet them too. I burst into tears immediately because it was something we were supposed to be able to experience together. Meeting them over the phone was still really nice and I’m glad that was able to happen.

At the very end of the month, my sister got back to Singapore. It’s been great having her around because we laugh about absolutely ridiculous things. I’ve missed seeing her on a daily basis and moments where we prove to share a single brain.

Reading

Number of books: 5
Number of hours read:  20hr 19mins
Number of pages read: 1,609

I went to the library a couple of times. There are two near me and I was looking for mystery books from Asian authors. I haven’t been there in awhile and it was nice to see the different selections they had. 

May being the month of AAPI, I decided to make my entire TBR focused on Asian authors. It’s something I’ve done for the last two years and I like the intentionality of making my TBR focused on reading more from them. There was a special page in my reading journal dedicated to it, allowing me to make it more fun.

Seeing so many other people tab their books and post photos of it on Bookstagram, I thought I’d try it too. One of the books on my TBR was perfect for this. I gave it a shot and ended up quite liking it.

Though I don’t think I’ll tab every book, it would be fun to do with fantasy books. Maybe even mysteries. I still have to figure out a system that works best for me. Sticking to 4 or 5 colors might be the best thing so I don’t overwhelm myself with options and too many things that I try to track.

I’ve also seen some people use thinner tabs, which I like the look of. I tried DIYing it and cutting  a stack of colors I haven’t used and likely won’t use. Didn’t turn out well, but at least I’m unlikely to use that color. Hopefully I’ll be able to find some at the Daiso that’s opening near me soon.

Lastly, I’d gotten the chance to beta-read a book for Colby (@colbywilkens), a friend I’ve made on Bookstagram. She gave me the file early in April but I didn’t manage to get to it back then. Knowing that she wanted feedback by the end of May, I squeezed it in amidst the other books I was reading so I could write out my notes.

Beta-reading isn’t something I’ve done much outside of school, and that is more workshopping than beta-reading. It was fun though. I’m glad I asked to be a beta reader and I hope my feedback was helpful to her in some way.

#1 of the month – The Dragon’s Promise by Elizabeth Lim
Fantasy ~ e-ARC

This was basically a disaster buddy-read with my friend Lyn (@lemonpietrick). We wanted to see if things would improve after the first book, but it really went downhill. I wish that it was a better example of Chinese fantasy, but it left me feeling incredibly disappointed and frustrated. I should have the full review up near the end of the month, so I’ll link it here when I’ve posted it.

#2 of the month – The Keeper of Night by Kylie Lee Baker
Fantasy ~ Hardcover

Simone (@simoneandherbooks) read this around the end of last year and raved about it, so I knew I had to pick it up. It’s rare to see fantasy duologies now, and I love the fact that this is a duology. The writing is gorgeous and so well-paced.

This was the book I tabbed as a test to see if I enjoyed tabbing. The story lends itself to a lot of colors I can use, and I eventually figured out which things I mostly used tabs to mark.

It’s sitting solidly as my second favorite book of 2022 so far, which makes me really excited for the sequel in October.

#3 of the month – Whispers of a Thing Forgotten
Paranormal mystery ~ E-book

It’s weirder to talk about this as a wrap-up book because it’s a beta-read. There’s nothing to review publicly because the book isn’t out in the world yet. Even my trackers are confused because it’s on my spreadsheet but not on StoryGraph or Goodreads. Still, I enjoyed the experience and would absolutely do it again if given the chance.

Paranormal mysteries are not a genre I’ve read a lot of, so my notes for Colby definitely leaned more toward the mystery side of things. It’s also rare for me to read a book so early in its life that its still being formed and changing all the time.

The fact that I get to read something so early on is really cool. I take pride in being part of a group that’s working to help Colby shape this story into the best version it can be.

#4 of the month – Boys I Know by Anna Gracia
YA Contemporary ~ e-ARC

I saw the author tweeting about her book and requested it from NetGalley immediately. Somehow, this is the year of me reading more YA contemporaries featuring Asian main characters.

The story features a Taiwanese teen growing into herself during her senior year of high school and figuring out what she wants. It deals with being a second-generation Asian American, the awkwardness of dating, and stepping into a new phase of life. I’ll have a review of it some time next month if you’re curious about more of my thoughts.

#5 of the month – The Love Hypothesis
Romance ~ Hardcover

This book is so hyped up on Bookstagram and TikTok. As part of my 12 from 12 challenge, Jemi asked me to read this. I did, and it took me longer than expected. I unintentionally put it down and didn’t pick it back up for over a month after that.

I’ll have a full review up some time in July, but the gist of it was that I felt like this was overhyped for me. My expectations weren’t quite met for how much praise this got and how so many people around me raved about it.

Writing

Blog words written: 18,837
Novel words written: 0

My word count went back up for the blog. I had some long reviews that helped out, and I also was a little more consistent with getting posts out in May.

Throughout May, I had been thinking over things for Project GHOST, Project Ceiling Cat, and an idea that’s been bouncing around in my head for several months. I want to write and work on these ideas, but I haven’t actually committed to sitting down and opening any of those files to write things out.

I would truly like to get more novel writing done outside of NaNoWriMo. At this point, I’m not really sure if there’s a new idea to be worked on then, unless I save the one I’ve been thinking about for the past year. It’s an option, but I also kind of want to start on it sooner.

Seeing more of my friends on Bookstagram talk about their writing and how that’s been going has made me want to start writing again. I miss that feeling of watching a story unfold on the page (or screen) and seeing how my own mind works to put together plot pieces and characters arcs.

We’ll see if that changes in future months, but for May, my mind has at least been looking forward to working on something in that capacity again.

Watching

YouTube: Somehow, I managed to watch something substantial that wasn’t Theorist related. I know, I know, that’s incredibly impressive and gives me something to talk about that’s not related to those four channels.

I wanted something else that was calming to watch and decided to re-visit Evelien’s Animal Crossing series. Months ago, I watched her first video on it after watching Séan go absolutely chaos-mode in his version. Hers was a welcome calmness that I enjoyed having in the background as I worked on other things.

There’s still about half of the playlist that I haven’t watched yet. I’m kind of saving it for when I need something super calm, but I do also miss watching her run around Sakuranbo as I did for a good portion of May. 

Watching how much fun she was having with it made me want to get the game. I debated buying it because it’s expensive and part of me feels like Animal Crossing is a game commitment I’m not ready for. However, one of my friends did offer to get it for me as a you-already-know-about-it birthday gift.

I have no idea if that’s actually happening since he said he’d try to get some of our mutual friends in on it, but we’ll see in July. 

Honestly, May wasn’t a huge month for me in terms of watching YouTube content. I mean, it was. I did get through a lot of GTLive backlogs so that I’m within the one year mark now. And since I’ve already watched a bunch of the videos from the past year so it’s getting a lot easier to catch up to current uploads.

Movies: There was only one movie on my list to watch in May and that was obviously Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. While I wouldn’t call myself a huge Marvel fan in the sense of knowing the comics, I am a huge fan of the MCU.

Unfortunately, the movie fell kind of flat for me. The newer movies have been a bit hit-or-miss in terms of me enjoying the writing and the characters. I liked how this movie was framed, but the execution didn’t come through for me. Several things felt like clear markers that the script had been re-written a few times and that re-shoots had been done.

It’ll be interesting to see how things move forward from here. I have very little idea of what to expect, which I think is the hardest thing for me. Phases 1-3 felt like they had clearer indicators of what would come next, but the way COVID has affected Phase 4 makes me more cautious about trying to predict my enjoyment and the direction of the franchise.

Shows: TV wise, May was a pretty good month. I decided to watch Only Murders in the Building after hearing all the hype around it. My love for Selena Gomez and her work also made me want to try it out. Plus, it’s about true-crime lovers trying to solve a real crime, which is a dream of mine.

The series went by quickly for me. I finished it in about 2 days and quickly looked up the release date for the second season. The show is a lot of fun and I had a great time trying to solve the mystery alongside the characters. There are a few plot things that didn’t sit right with me, but that could be me comparing it with more serious crime shows and misplacing expectations.

My dad and I got further into My Hero Academia in May. We’re nearly halfway through Season 5 right now and I’m enjoying it. Getting to watch it with my dad is fun because I get to explain certain anime tropes to him as we go along. The first four seasons were a good refresher and explaining plot points to my dad helps me too.

In another MCU vein, Jemi and I watched Moon Knight together over FaceTime. We’ve seen all the Marvel shows together (although I did start WandaVision before her and did a rewatch while she caught up) and this was such a fun one to watch unfold.

Being unfamiliar with Moon Knight as a character, I loved discovering his story and getting to talk about where things would go. Very proud to say that Jemi and I were able to accurately predict several of the reveals and get them 98% right. Whenever they decide to announce a second season or a movie, I’ll be glad to watch it.

Listening

Podcasts: I’ve done a great job of clearing through more backlist episodes of My Favorite Murder. As of the end of May, I was solidly finishing out November 2021 and getting ready to finally be in the same year as them.

Part of me kind of wants to look for another podcast to start, but I’m so far behind on so many that it doesn’t really make sense. Maybe a one-off season would work. I have been thinking about going back to the beginning of The Black Tapes and starting over so I can finally finish it. Maybe that’ll be for June.

Music: Continuing my enjoyment of my LoFi playlist, I put it on whenever I wasn’t watching a gaming video in the background. It’s been a really nice change, but I’m trying to make sure that it doesn’t somehow override my quest to be in the top 0.01% of Taylor Swift listeners on Spotify.

I did put my Taylor Swift playlist on occasionally, but a lot of May was around my LoFi playlist. Music wasn’t big on my list in May, but that felt right.

Posting

Charmaine standing in front of a bookshelf, smiling and in a red dress. She has two fingers held up on each hand
one of the pictures I posted to celebrate my second Bookstaversary

Content was a little more consistent in May. I did move around a few things but I also managed to get a lot of posts out.

It was my second anniversary on Bookstagram, which I was very happy to celebrate. After forgetting my anniversary last year, I put this one on my calendar and thought through the stuff I wanted to create around it. Plus, I also got some books to celebrate the event.

Blog: I did move around some of my planned blog posts because I didn’t write all of them in a timely manner. It was a month of intentionally writing easier posts because I was lazy.

Here’s a list of everything I wrote in May.

My favorite post was about my reading journal, which was a lot of fun to photograph and put together. I absolutely loved getting a chance to spend 4.5K words talking about my love for bullet journaling and how I use it to track my reading.

IG: There were 9 Reels in total that I filmed and uploaded. It was a good mix of stuff, with two of them being focused on things that have changed since I started my account. I decided not to continue with the Week in My Life series as it was getting hard to find new things to film without making every other clip about Tabby.

I did make one Reel that was about The Dragon’s Promise because I had so many negative emotions after reading that book. It became my most viewed Reel for the month and I’m actually still getting some likes on it as I write this.

Looking at how my Reels have performed has taught me that my silly ones tend to do better. My reading journal Reels almost always do well too, but it’s the funny ones that tend to get the most attention and have the most potential to suddenly gain traction after a couple of weeks. At least that gives me an idea of what to continue making.

Still no new Instagram feed. I did file a report with the platform but honestly, we all know they don’t care about anyone, so I didn’t push it any further.

Oh, something else happened that was really random. In the span of a week, two different Andrews that I know told me to make TikTok content. It’s not something I’ve thought much about because I know it takes 3-4 videos PER DAY to see any kind of growth, and that’s not something I can manage.

While I have made little videos here and there before, it’s never been a platform that I fully felt like pursuing because it feels like there a lack of nuance there a lot of the time. Plus, I do not get along with BookTok and I can’t imagine any kind of non-bookish content that I’d really want to put on there.

That’s all that I have for May!

It felt like a really short month, as I said at the beginning of this. Somehow, I managed to do all these things in what felt like a span of two weeks.

I’m starting to feel more settled in my LifeGroup, which I think is the biggest takeaway for me. Finally feeling like I’m getting a feel for the dynamics and the friendships. Feeling like it’s a space where more sharing can take place. Also looking forward to it more each week.

There was some good reflection that took place during May, especially with it being the one-year marker for me moving back to Singapore. Some things remain the same and other things have changed. It’s hard to talk about, honestly. The right words are hard to find.

I do think May was a good month in general. Some things could be better, but that’s kind of always how it is, right? At least there’s always a chance to change that with each new month that rolls around.

Bookstagram

Most Recent Posts

Leave a Reply