Welp, it is the end of February and already things are…they are.
I’m watching my adopted state of Florida (where I don’t currently live because of the military but where I’m registered to vote and yes it’s all very complicated welcome to being a military spouse) prepare to pass two racist, homophobic and transphobic bills, and I’m tired. Meanwhile, in Texas, the government is already enacting transphobic policies targeting trans children and their support networks.
Anywho, I read 17 books this month, to include 10 books, six audiobooks and one graphic novel, for 6,210 pages.
I also wrote 35,000 words in my latest WIP, which is…in a genre I don’t usually write in.
I also binged through 150 episodes of Lore Olympus (I’m hooked!) and now am heartbroken because now I must wait three months for it to return from hiatus. Luckily, The Remarried Empress is back in action. I also read two shorter reads that don’t hit my completely arbitrary page limit to count on my reading challenge: Winterfair Gifts by Lois McMaster Bujold and Chef’s Kiss by Jarrett Melendez, both of which are just wonderful and I highly recommend them.
I wanted to read A Civil Campaign before Valentine’s Day, and instead of savoring it I ended up listening to it in four heady, hazy days. I love the Vorkosigan Saga (if you haven’t already figured it out), and this book is my absolute favorite in the series (okay, it’s tied with Barrayar, but it might edge it out). This is my desert island book. I could read it over and over and over and never be bored.
This month was the month of me reading books with bones in the title (March is going to be for the books, literally, lol). Nettle & Bone was my first T Kingfisher book, and it was such a delight. I cannot wait to dive into the rest of her extensive backlist. The Bone Orchard was a debut that did not feel like a debut at all, probably because the author worked on it over ten years and it was published by Tor, who do right by their authors. Anywho, both are fantastic and I highly recommend them, although both come with extensive trigger warnings.
I Kissed Shara Wheeler is Casey McQuiston’s YA debut, and it is very much its own, lovely thing. A friend asked me if it was more like RW&RB or OLS. The answer is both and neither, but still very much a McQuiston novel. I really, really adored it, and this is another book I wish I had had as a teenager.
I have never read a book based on a musical album before, but Janelle Monáe’s The Memory Librarian blew me away. The scope of the stories, the worldbuilding, the execution, the collaborative powers combined and the way it is so queer and so Black was amazing. It’s a sharp and biting look at the present and into the future, while also being rooted in hope and optimism. I highly recommend it, and yes, it pairs very nicely with the album.
My four-star reads are all over the place. I really enjoyed The No-Show, although it was not like I expected because of the twists—one I kinda saw coming and the other I did not really see coming but felt in my gut. It’s a good, solid read, and I recommend going in knowing nothing more than the blurb.
Four Aunties and a Wedding was exactly the ridiculous, over-the-top sequel to Dial A for Aunties that I could ever want, and the only thing that kept me from giving it five stars was because it wrapped too quickly and too fast! I need more aunties!
Kundo Wakes Up was the companion novella to The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday, which was one of my stand-out reads of 2019 (I can’t believe it was three years ago). This is another that went in a completely different direction than I expected, with a resolution that was not what I wanted or anticipated but that I needed. The author’s note summed up the ending perfectly.
I read two four-star history books, one nonfiction, one fiction this month. I enjoyed both quite a bit. Island Queen was a fascinating fictional look into the real life of Dorothy Kirwin Thomas, a Black woman born into slavery who became one of the wealthiest and most powerful landowners in the colonial West Indies (the research was impeccable but I felt it could have focused more on her business exploits and less on her romances). Wilmington’s Lie was about the 1898 white supremacist coup on the city’s legally elected, biracial government, including the lead-up to the coup and the ramifications from it. Definitely a must-read.
I suppose another theme this month is water, or something like it. I enjoyed The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea, although I was torn between four and three stars for this one. The writing is gorgeous, the worldbuilding is *chef’s kiss*, and the comparisons to Spirited Away are solid…however, I wasn’t a fan of the romance (tired of immortal boy meets teenage girl) and I am also weary of the self-sacrificing heroine trope.
Tidesong was a cute middle grade graphic novel that I really enjoyed. The artwork is adorable, the storyline fast and yet still has layers of depth, and its commentary on intergenerational trauma was spot on. Obie is Man Enough was another middle grade book where I thought the main character was in eight grade but he was actually in seventh. Regardless of that, it was a solid book on being trans, Asian, biracial, and an athlete (be warned, there is deadnaming in the first sentence of the book).
And here are the books that were solidly entertaining but not wow. Wahala was a fun read, with three friends who had more in common with the intruding fourth friend than each other, and it really went from 20 to 80 in the last ten percent, which was wild.
I’ll definitely read another book by May though. Her writing is engaging and sharp, and her characters are not cookie cutters or paradigms of virtue, all of which are things I really like.
Vanderbilt was…it was boring. It was good, but felt more like a showcase of a series of famous events than a comprehensive history of the family, and by the end it had delved more into reminiscing the life of Cooper’s beloved mother. However, it kept me entertained, it was well written and I learned something, so three stars instead of two.
Fevered Star was a disappointment. It was one of my most anticipated reads of 2022, since I loved and was just in awe over the scope and worldbuilding and brilliance of Black Sun. Book 2, however, felt more like an intermediary between Black Sun and the third book, as it consisted mostly of catching us up on where everyone was, pacing stop gaps to slow the aftermath fo the events of book 1, and then maneuvering them into position for book 3. It was…kinda boring, but I’ll still be reading on in the series because I want to see where it ends.
There are a couple of books that I’ve read where I have to ask if the cis het folks are okay. This is one of them. King of Battle and Blood has popped up everywhere on my Instagram feed, although, to be honest I easily mistake it for From Blood and Ash (to be fair, they seem like the same book anyway? no, you don’t need to correct me because I don’t care). Anywho, I hated it and finished it in a spiteful, petty mood.