Another month down, people! February was another pretty good reading month for me but there were a lot more 3 star reads compared to January. Here’s some quick stats for you: I managed to read 10 books this month, which puts me 9 books ahead of schedule for my goal for the year! I read a total of 2,865 pages this month and listened to 26.2 hours of audiobooks. My average rating was 4.1 and I made time to read 20 days out of the 28.
Let’s take a look at the books I finished in the month of February!
A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas
Dates Read: 31/01 → 02/02
TW: PTSD, sexual content, violence, emotional abuse, blood, death, confinement, domestic abuse, torture, gore, suicidal thoughts, grief, sexual assault, rape, sexual violence, physical abuse, body horror, kidnapping, disordered eating, cursing and murder.
The first book I decided to pick up this month, purely because I was finally in the mood to do so, was A Court of Mist and Fury. I read book one in this series back in November last year after being very wary of it for a long while. Some of you know already but I’m making my way through this series as part of my mission to read as many of the so-called “YA staples” as possible. This is because, as a kids bookseller, I’m asked about them all the time and I’m never confident putting them in people’s hands or warning them away when I don’t know the extent of their content. When it comes to this series, I’m still very much on the fence and unsure how to feel about it. The shift in love interest in this book makes me very uncomfortable given the events of the pervious one and the world-building (or lack, thereof) drives me absolutely crazy but I have found myself developing attachments to the characters. I’d also like to say that I really appreciate the way grief and trauma are depicted in this book. It’s not something I see people talk about much in reference to this series but it’s an important point to highlight as I think it is handled really well. I will be continuing on in the series, at least the end of the original trilogy, then I’m planning to move on to another one of the ‘perennial’ young adult series.
Pet by Awkaeke Emezi
Dates Read: 01/02 → 03/02
TW: blood mentions, body horror, child sexual abuse/pedophilia (not explicit), vomit.
I loved this weird little book so much. I remember I had a lot of housework to do the day that I started this and I got so sucked in that I did none of it, I pretty much just sat on my bedroom floor for 4 hours and listened. I could see all of these characters so clearly in my mind and it had such a tense, grim tone which made for a very atmospheric listening experience. I also want to note that this book has an entirely black cast, our main character is a trans teen who is selectively mute and communicates largely through sign language and her best friend’s parents have a polyamorous relationship, one of whom uses they/them pronouns. I’m really excited to read more from this author, I fell in love with their writing style from the very beginning and their ability to craft such a powerful story in 200 pages absolutely blew me away.
City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab
Dates Read: 03/02 → 04/02
TW: death, child death.
This was another one I picked up in an attempt to get through that neglected housework and unfortunately I was left underwhelmed by it. Anyone who knows me knows I am a huge fan of Victoria (or V. E.) Schwab’s work but this is the first book by her that I felt a little let down by. I’m giving it three stars because it is a middle grade and I think that if I were in that age bracket this book would be perfect but as far as my own enjoyment there just wasn’t enough going on for me. It felt very much like this first book in the series was used largely to show us how the paranormal aspects of the plot worked and it was really nice to see our characters visit real places in Edinburgh and learn about their histories. However, I didn’t find the peril believable and even by middle grade standards, it didn’t have that spooky atmosphere I wanted. This book is also categorised in the UK as YA which I didn’t agree with prior to reading and I definitely don’t agree with now. Its also important to note that there are a ton of Harry Potter references scattered throughout the whole book so just be mindful of that going in if it’s something that will bother you.
Perfect On Paper by Sophie Gonzales
Dates Read: 01/02 → 05/02
TW: biphobia (internalised & external), toxic relationship, divorce, descriptions of kidnapping, infidelity, underage drinking, underage drug use, vomit.
Oh god, I fell head over heels in love with this book. I buddy-read this one with Coco over at Tea Time Lit as we both had NetGalley arcs and it was so much fun! The romance in here was super cute and there were some really important discussions about diversity and LGBTQ+ experiences. A full review of this one is going up next week so I won’t blab too much here but this was a really easy-going, coming-of-age read with a real John Hughes/Disney Channel original vibe.
You Should See Me In A Crown by Leah Johnson
Dates Read: 06/02 → 07/02
TW: death of a parent, sickle cell disease, mentions of cancer (ovarian), stroke and blood, grief, anxiety, racism, homophobia, transphobia.
This is another one that has big DCOM energy. I definitely picked this one up at the exact right moment as I was really struggling early in the month with my own grief experience so to have our main character’s struggle depicted in such an honest way was actually really helpful for me. The story itself was such a fun time and the sapphic romance was really wonderful to see bloom. My only real issue with it was that are main character has some pretty naff friends, I was never pleased to see them when they entered a scene as they seemed to put a lot of unnecessary pressure on her. I did love her relationship with her brother though as it really reminded me of my own, I’m a proper sucker a wholesome sibling relationship. I really enjoyed the audio for it and it was a very easy listen during what was a pretty rough couple of days for me.
Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson
Dates Read: 08/02 → 12/02
TW: child sexual abuse/pedophilia, addiction to codeine, kidnapping, blood mentions, gaslighting, trauma.
Unfortunately, this was another one that left me a little underwhelmed. I was on the fence for a while about what rating to give it as it covers some really important topics but I felt let down by both the pacing towards the end and the inclusion of some questionable mental health representation. It’s difficult to describe without spoilers, but around 3/4 of the way through there is a revelation about the main character’s best friend and some questions surrounding her state of mind. I felt these were both underdeveloped as plot points and were largely unnecessary to the storyline. There were other ways the author could have discredited the main character without including these aspects, rather than having them be proven false a few chapter later. As the reader, I didn’t have time to even process the twist before it was disproved again? I don’t know, I just couldn’t wrap my head around the final quarter of this book. I definitely want to read Monday’s Not Coming by this same author, all the reviews I’ve read for Grown sing it’s praises so hopefully I’ll pick that one up soon.
The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon
Dates Read: 14/02 → 17/02
TW: death of a parent, alcohol, misogyny.
Do you ever enjoy a book so much it puts you in a slump? I read this author’s YA release last year and fell in love with her characters so I was really excited to pick this one up. Clearly history repeats itself because I remember finishing this and thinking, “Wait, no more Shay and Dominic content? What am I supposed to do now?” We delved quite a lot into our main couple’s individual pasts which was really nice as it felt like we really got to know them both. Every plot point felt like it had enough space to develop and the fake-dating-turned-real-romance evolved really naturally. A very uplifting, feel-good story and one I know I’ll come back to again and again.
If I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlane
Dates Read: 21/02 → 24/02
TW: child sexual abuse, trauma, abandonment, slutshaming, misogyny, terminal diagnosis of a parent, fractured parental relationship, loss of a sibling, blood, injury, cheating, break up.
I don’t know what possessed me to pick up two office based, fake-dating adult romances back-to-back — possibly because I was craving another relationship like The Ex Talk? — but I have no regrets. This was a really unique reading experience for me because its set almost entirely in my hometown — our protagonist’s office is a few streets away from my own workplace and I’d been in half of the bars and restaurants that they have their fake dates in! A super fun romance but also a really important look at learning how to be without someone after the end of a serious relationship. The only thing that hindered my enjoyment of this one was it felt at times as though there were a few too many reveals one after each other, largely about our main character and love interests past traumas, that none of them really got enough focus? It was amazing to see so much representation through both of their pasts but each experience needed to be explored in a bit more detail. Also, be warned that the ending of this book will be incredibly cringe for some people, myself included — we could have lost the last 2 pages and I would have been a happy lady. I definitely want to seek out more books set in my city because it was SO cool to see characters using my own slang and visiting places I know on the page.
Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
Dates Read: 05/02 → 28/02
TW: death, rape mentions, genocide, abduction, gore.
When I closed this book I could not breathe, and I mean that in the very best way. I was meant to buddy read this with a few friends but I got a little caught up in my fluffy reads and this one took a backseat. Once I picked it up again though I was hooked, I pretty much read the entire second half in one sitting. I put off picking this up for a really long time and now I’m kicking myself because everything you’ve heard about it is true: its beautiful, powerful and I did not want it to end. The moment he was introduced, I completely fell in love with Lazlo Strange and his kind hearts (yes, plural). Plus, the way the author weaved the cities histories into our present plot made Weep feel that much more real to me. Everything about this setting was so entrancing, every little piece of information we gleaned only scratched the surface of this gorgeous world and how it came to be. This book has also inspired my March reading journal theme, so keep an eye out for that in an upcoming post.
Blue Ticket by Sophie Mackintosh
Dates Read: 07/02 → 28/02
TW: Rape, forced conception, miscarriage, suicidal ideation, death, blood, body horror.
Final read of the month and unfortunately another one I wasn’t super impressed by. I read The Water Cure by this author last year and really enjoyed it so I was excited to get into another of their literary dystopian worlds. If I had to pick one word to describe this book it would have to ‘vague’. I found a lot of the characters, the side characters in particular, really intriguing but we never seemed to spend a lot of time with any of them or get any real insight into their personal stories despite some of them being present for long periods of time. The concept itself was really unique but I just didn’t enjoy the way it was executed – the first few parts really captured me and the ending was equally strong but there was a sort of limbo feeling in the middle of the book where not very much seemed to happen. However, there was a brilliant twist a little bit before the end which finally seemed to bring the story back on track. I’d definitely prepare yourself for a bit of a meandering plot going into this one but I still enjoyed the story as whole and will definitely continue to pick up her work.
As far as my reading goals go, I’m well on track for my 50 book target and I completed the Buzzword prompt for February with Blue Ticket. 5 out of the 9 books were own voices but I am still almost exclusively picking up books by women. I also didn’t even touch a non-fiction book this month so I definitely need to make time for at least one in March. Definitely could have done better with some of these this time around so I’m definitely going to keep in mind going into next month.
I hope you had a really good February, everyone! How did your reading go this month?
Lots of love,