February 2016 Reading Wrap-Up

Kristina PinoComment

Wow, it's March already! Alrighty, so here's a look at how I read in February (that extra day actually came in handy, too). For those of you just now following along, I'm tracking my reading for diversity and participating in Book Riot's 2016 Read Harder Challenge. If you're wondering why I'm categorizing things so much and keeping such meticulous track of what I read, it's partially because I like stats, but also because being deliberate and seeing the information in front of ya is the first step in affecting change. I want my reading life to be naturally diverse, but that isn't enough by itself. Time to face the music!

Books read in February: 8

Creators of color: 4/10 (40%)
LGBT+ rep. in creators: 0/10 (0%)
LGBT+ rep. in books: 1/8 (13%)
Lady creators: 8/10 (80%)
Translated works: 2
Works in Spanish: 0

Alright, so February differs from January in that I did a bit worse on LGBT+ and better on ladies in general. I've got to keep working on that. On the bright side, I read a couple of translated works (manhwa title Bride of the Water God) which is two more than last month's zero.

As for the Read Harder Challenge, I fulfilled three more tasks. I covered "read a middle grade novel" with Drama by Raina Telgemeier (my review here). For "read the first book in a series by a person of color" I read the aforementioned Bride of the Water God. I'm going to keep reading it throughout March - it's so pretty! And for "read a non-superhero comic that debuted in the last three years" I went with Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson (my review here). I'm up to 6 tasks (out of 24), which is great pacing in case I slow down around summertime.

My Book Riot pick for February is How to be Black by Baratunde Thurston. My PANELS pick for February is Drama by Raina Telgemeier. Check out those links to see what my colleagues' best reads were for the month, too!

And now, for a little something extra.

Books read to date: 17

Creators of color: 9/24 (38%)
LGBT+ rep. in creators: 1/24 (4%)
LGBT+ rep. in books: 2/17 (12%)
Lady creators: 15/24 (63%)
Translated works: 2
Works in Spanish: 0

Keep up with what I'm reading on Twitter or Instagram as well as on this blog, and feel free to drop in with suggestions or chat with me any time about books and comics. Did you set any reading goals this year? How are you doing?

Mid-Year Check-in: My Reading Stats

Books, Comics and MangaKristina PinoComment

I talked about diversifying my reading and reading challenges and all of that, but now it's time to see how it's going with the walking. It's officially July, so I've tallied up the books I've read so far and checked out the vital stats. I've included: prose books, trade volumes (comics), graphic novels (also comics), and audiobooks in my count. I haven't been reading a lot-a lot, but that's what happens when work gets hectic and then you move (twice). Without further ado:

Total number of books: 22
Lady authors/creators: 16/22 (73%)
Authors/creators of color: 12/22 (55%)
Translated works: 10/22 (45%)
Works in Spanish: 0/5 (0% of my goal of 5)

I was getting a little worried, if I could be honest here, because I felt like my #fridayreads videos lately were looking pretty heavy on the white author dudes. But as it turns out, I've been well on track. Now, here are a few superlatives for you:

Most surprising: Four Nights With the Duke by Eloisa James. I didn't really know what to expect when I took a chance on romance, but I loved it.

Best find: Hellboy. Thanks to the local library, I just grabbed a bunch of random books and, surprise, surprise, I found something super rad.

Most Unputdownable: Waistcoats & Weaponry by Gail Carriger. I delayed and delayed listening to this book, because there's only one left after this one, but alas - I couldn't stop listening once I hit play. (my review)

The Quiet Read: When Marnie Was There by Joan Robinson

Voices That Stuck With Me Most: White Teeth by Zadie Smith (I read this in print, btw)

Right! These are my mid-year stats. I'm pretty happy with them, and I'm looking forward to keeping track of the rest of this year's reads. Let me know how you're doing if you're also tracking your reading goals.


General UpdatesKristina PinoComment

I'm finally settled into my new place and I'm making space for and accommodating all my beloved figures and statues among my books. Some of the stuff I'm unboxing right now has never seen the light of day, either because of the cramped situation at my previous apartment, or because I acquired it while I was living abroad, or because I didn't have space for it at my parents' house before that. So they were sitting in their boxes in a closet, poor things.

As a result, I'm rediscovering my love for figures I've definitely taken out to take pictures and review and all that, but then sadly had to return to their boxes, as well as figures I've never even looked at outside of their packaging at all. I'll probably be uploading some galleries here and/or on Tomopop soon, because I've got the time and energy for it now. Also, my shelves are looking gorgeous, and they make me happy.

Oh em gee - I'm back! A look at what I'm reading and watching

General UpdatesKristina PinoComment

After an extended, way too long break, I'm back and ready to rock. The Reading Challenge is back on, and of course I'll be blogging as usual about my other reads and what I'm seeing around. I'm also watching more anime recently, so I'll probably blog my thoughts about that here, too. 

Here's a quick update on what I'm reading, watching, etc.:

Lucky You by Carl Hiaasen - I've been reading this book for what seems like forever, because I'm in the middle of a hardcore reading slump. Moving/vacation/reuniting with friends and family will do that, I guess? But I want to finish it by this weekend. (library)

Boys Over Flowers (first few volumes) by Yoko Kamio. This series is kind of a shoujo manga classic, and I've just never looked into it. Changing that! (library)

Last Stand of the Wreckers by Nick Roche, James Roberts, Guido Guidi, and others. I've never read any Transformers-related comics, and this was the book my pals suggested I start with. I've got a whole reading pathway lined up that I'll be slowly working through. (borrowed)

Nisekoi (anime). I started reading the manga a while back, and I had thought it was rather fun and funny, so instead of hunting it down to keep reading, I'm giving it a watch. (Crunchyroll)

I've polled Twitter on what other anime I should watch, and so far the list looks like Attack on Titan, Shingeki no Bahamut, Durarara!!, Mawaru Penguindrum, and... more. If you have suggestions of your own, I'm trying to keep it within the last ~5 years, and I'm also avoiding horror. Have any for me? Let me have 'em in the comments!

Thanks for sticking around.

2015 Outlook: What's in Store Now?

General UpdatesKristina PinoComment

Hi hi!

Alright, so we are nearing the end of this school year, which means it's near the end of my time in Japan. After two years in Ibaraki, I'm moving back to Miami! There are loads of adventures and new experiences and cool things and delicious foods ahead of me, so don't you worry about content and yummies dropping off on this blog.

Quick thing:

From now until probably May, Friday Things will be on hiatus. It's a fun column, but I can't keep up with it weekly while I'm tying things up here/on vacation/moving/etc., so I'm simply going to take a break.


Monday, March 23rd will be the final Elementary School Lunch update for the foreseeable future. There's a possibility I'll take the project up again some day, but at this time I don't plan on eating the school lunches at my next post. Instead, I plan to blog about several other food-related things.

First: Bentou lunches. I'm going to be preparing my own packed lunches for work, and it may not be daily, but I will strive to update this blog with some regularity with what I'm making, and refer you to recipes I use if they're documented anywhere. 

Second: I want to blog more about Miami, and South Florida in general. Not just about food, but since this is the section of this post we're on, I'll just go on and say that whenever I find some remarkable food someplace, I'll probably use Instagram more than anything else for this, but I may highlight it here as well if I've got something more to say, or if I end up talking to the chef or something.

Last: Recipes. I mentioned above I may share where I get recipes from for my packed lunches, but in some cases, they'll be recipes I've collected here over the past couple of years. The nutritionist/lunch lady at my school has been very kind and shared recipes for many of my favorite meals so I can recreate them at home. If this is a thing anyone's interested in, I'd be happy to share those now and again.


I'm trying not to over-plan, but I've got a lot on the pipeline this year, and unfortunately I can't talk about most of it just yet. Sorry about that!

As I mentioned earlier, I want to focus on the Miami area (and South Florida in general), which means I'll be hitting the water, the hiking trails, the festivals, markets, art walks, and anything else, and highlighting them here and/or my social media. When you spend a long time living in one place, you kind of lose your awe of it, and take it totally for granted. Now that I've spent some time away, I'm kind of falling in love with the lovely South Florida again, so I want to share that with the world.

Besides that, I'll be documenting my trips wherever my feet take me. Instagram and Twitter are good places to look and keep up with me in that department, and later on when I've sorted through my images, cleaned them up, registered them, they'll appear in the Travels section of my site's navigation. There may be a bit of a delay because I like to register my images in big batches, but they will be there, and nowhere else. I don't use flickr, or SmugMug, or any other photo uploading service for my images at the time of writing this post.

Books and Comics:

This is the one aspect of my site which will not change. I will continue to review or at least put my thoughts down on books and comics I read and audiobooks I listen to. I've come to rather like the Bite-Sized Book Reviews format, and will probably do more of that and fewer one-off reviews in the future, but that's about it. My comics-related content will probably go up as well.

As ever, you can also see my other book-related blogging on Book Riot and Quirk Books, and some comics-related blogging at PANELS. I love writing for those spots, and that's another aspect of my current life that won't be changing with the scenery. Oh, and I'm not dropping any of my 2015 Reading Challenges. They're just on a short break.

And I think that just about covers it. At least, for now it does. I know it seems like a lot, but if you consider the school-daily food blogging is going away, it doesn't actually amount to any more work than I'd been doing before to mix in a bit of travel/entertainment blogging with the occasional food-related thing. In the end, I'm basically going to blog when I want to, when something is really cool and I want to share it. If it isn't fun, there's no point, right?

If you have any questions, requests, feedback, notes of encouragement, etc. for me, feel free to leave them in the comments below, or hit me up on Twitter or somewhere else! It's always great knowing when folks keep up with my adventures here. Onwards to new ones!

2015 Reading Goals!

BooksKristina PinoComment

I've had a good long think about what reading goals I want to try and achieve next year, and have finally decided on how I want to challenge myself. And it will be a challenge, partially because I have not one, but two moves planned for Spring. It's going to be really busy, so here's hoping I'll make it through:

1. Read more books by authors of color/diverse nationalities.

I already read many books by both male and female authors - reading more lady authors would be a goal, otherwise. But now that I've got that leg of diversity figured out, I want to move on to the next logical step, which is ethnic diversity. It's important to me to read diversely and to be exposed to varying viewpoints of people from all over the world, so 2015 will be a big year in broadening my horizons.

2. Read more translated works.

This one kind of works together with point 1, but it isn't exactly the same thing. I want to read more books which weren't originally published in the English language. I'm not really sure how many books I've read in translation outside of high school curriculum. I've definitely read Murakami, and loads of manga, but I can't think of much else. I want to change that.

3. Read more books in Spanish.

Spanish is my native language, though these days I primarily communicate in English since it's my job to teach it. But I actually haven't read many books in actual Spanish since I was a kid. Why? This needs to change, too. I asked my mom about it, and she told me it's a great idea, but that books are difficult to read in Spanish, even for her. The reason for this is, as Cubans, we have our own dialect (I like to call it an "island dialect"), and often, being from Miami, Spanish and English spill over into each other and new words form that are totally not the "proper" terms for things. Double dialect confusion. Books in Spanish are written in a different way than I'm used to receiving it, in other words. In 2015, I want to read at least 5 books in Spanish. Not books translated to Spanish from English, but ones that were originally written in Spanish. It seems like a small number, that 5, but I neither want to be overly-ambitious or turn this one goal into a chore. Also, I'm going to have to buy a Spanish-English dictionary and scribble on the margins like whoa.

These are my three main goals, but I'm not done. In order to really stretch my reading habits and get out of my comfort zone, I've decided to join the Book Riot 2015 Read Harder challenge. There are 24 tasks set, which works out to roughly two books a month, with the aim of getting you, the challenger, to read more diversely. Some of these tasks are going to be easy because I do it already (read an audiobook, read a graphic novel, read a retelling of a classic, read a book written by someone whose gender is different from your own), but others are going to be more of a challenge in the sense that I have to deliberately look for books that fit the bill, like reading a book from an African author, reading a book by or about someone from an indigenous culture, or reading a book by or about someone who identifies as LGBTQ. I've got some ideas already for what books I plan to read for what task, but I don't want to "assign" books just yet because it often backfires on me when I set up a to-be-read list.

These are my reading goals for 2015, and I'm going to be updating this blog often with my progress, so I hope you'll check back on me from time to time. If you'd like to join me in the reading challenge or share your own goals, let me know! We can connect here, or on Twitter, or even G+ and Instagram. If I know you and you're connected to me via Facebook, we can bond over our reading goals there, too.

Have a great new year!