January felt like the longest month ever, but February sped by. I started out with a bang, which you’ll see, and then floundered through the middle while I completely ignored my February TBR, before absolutely smashing out the last ten days. It was a very fantasy heavy month, which was amazing, and which I might be replicating a little next month. I’ve not got a lot else to say other than that, so let’s dive in!
What: King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo
Review: I mean, realistically, we all knew this was going to get five stars before I even started it. I don’t even know where to begin with this book. Well, first, unlike the Crows duology, you have to have read all five previous books before this one. This picks up right after Crooked Kingdom, and it includes main characters from the Shadow and Bone trilogy, as well as one from the Crows duology, plus it relies heavily on big plot points that happened in both of those series. For this duology, we’re following Nikolai, King of Ravka, as he tries to unravel the darkness that the Darkling left inside of him, a darkness that may mean sacrificing his throne.
Gods, this was good. As always, Bardugo made me care about characters suddenly and with a big punch to the heart (Zoya) and made me fall deeply in love with characters in a way that I should have seen coming but was still sneakily blindsided by (Isaak) and just drowned me in love and angst equally (Nikolai). I was just so enamored with this book–from the characters to the plot to the drama to THE WORLD. Oh, the world. Don’t even get me started on Leigh Bardugo’s world. AND THAT PLOT TWIST. Wow. WOW. I did not see that coming. AND THAT ENDING. Oh boy. I can’t wait for the next one.
What: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
Review: Alright, here’s the thing. The first book I ever read by Holly Black was Tithe, I read it exactly one year ago, and I hated it. Oh my gosh, wait, I totally reviewed it: “The writing, however, left a lot to be desired, and the characters were poorly executed. I will not be reading anything else in this series, and I haven’t yet decided if I’m going to loop back around for a different Black novel.” Oh man, Tithe was truly one of the worst books I read in 2018. The Cruel Prince is not a huge step up from it. The writing has improved a little?
My goodness, I had a complicated relationship with this book. Let me start by saying that I liked it enough that I’m going to read the sequel. But also I disliked it a lot. The writing was meh. The characters made little to no sense, especially when both of them do a sudden 180 with their personalities that is explained in the laziest way ever. The violence is so gratuitous and unnecessary. But, if Black had actually taken some time to really show the deaths and give us a little of the characters beforehand (my dudes, some of them I only knew the names once they were being killed), it would have been fine. This was just a mess.
Why am I reading the sequel? For the same reason I finished reading Tithe even though I hated it so much. Holly Black is the faery writer, and faeries happen to be one of my favorite things to read and write about. She also writes them well, and so, yeah. I’ll be reading The Wicked King at some point this year, probably. I may be unhappy about it, but I also may be happy about it. Who knows.
Also, Cardan’s an asshole. And not one I feel sad about or want to like. He’s not a Kaz asshole, who can still redeem himself. He’s just a straight-up jerk, and he sucks.
What: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Review: To make matters easier on myself, I texted my friend, Alex, who I was buddy reading this with, at around page 60 and said, “Okay, but genuine question, why does everyone like Darcy in the beginning? Like everyone is trying to get his attention, but he’s so standoffish.” She then proceeded to send me about an eleven-paragraph explanation, which was not only amazing, but also vastly improved my understanding and willingness to read this. So thank you for that, Alex!
And in the most surprising turn of events, I liked this? Like, truly, once I finally figured out what the hell was going on with Darcy, it was really easy to get into and get lost in. Yes, it still took me a little over a week to read, but I’m coming away from it actually having enjoyed it. So I guess I won’t be avoiding Austen anymore.
What: Locke & Key, Vol. 3: Crown of Shadows by Joe Hill & Gabriel Rodríguez
Review: I bought everything left in this series, so expect me to be finishing this soon because HOLY HELL I LOVE IT. When Tyler used the giant key, I literally started yelling, “GET SOME TYLER KICK ALL THE ASSES!” This was truly so fun, and it’s taking a lot of convincing for me not to just gobble up the rest of the series right now. I’m trying to pace myself so I get to enjoy it longer, but man, I love these.
Plus, as I was reading this, they released a photo from the first ever table read!
LOOK AT THEM! Big heart eyes happening from me, guys. I’m so excited about this actually happening.
What: The Green Witch: Your Complete Guide to the Natural Magic of Herbs, Flowers, Essential Oils, and More by Arin Murphy-Hiscock
Review: This book was so lackluster. Like, ugh. A solid half of it is just recipes for dumb things, like how to build a concrete stepping stone from literal scratch, and the other half is the author saying “green magic is not witchcraft, and it does not associate with actual magic, it’s connecting with nature” but then tells you how to make a spell ball. Like, make up your mind? Either you’re participating in a craft, or you’re gardening. This was boring, and it had a lot of conflicting views, and overall, I was not impressed.
What: Invader Zim, Vol. 1 by Jhonen Vásquez, Eric Trueheart, Aaron Alexovich, Megan Lawton, Simon Troussellier, Rikki Simons
Review: This is better as a cartoon than as a graphic novel. I read quite a few graphic novels this month. I’ve been trying to get through my massive stack, so I tackled it instead of focusing on my TBR, of course. This was–not great. I probably won’t read anymore in the series. I mean, it was good. It was nice to return to the world of Invader Zim, but as it stands separate from the show? Meh.
What: The Power of the Dark Crystal, Vol. 1 by Jim Henson
Review: But this? Yeah, this was awesome. I really loved some of the new artists that were brought into the universe on this one. The art was a little different, but in a really excellent way. We were able to see the world of Thra through a different perspective, and it was gorgeous. I also thoroughly enjoyed the storyline of the Firelings, and I can’t wait to see where it goes from here.
This picks up about 100 years after the movie, and it’s definitely not something I’d recommend unless you’re deep in the Dark Crystal universe like I am currently.
What: Emergency Contact by Mary HK Choi
Review: Listen, don’t @ me just because I read this twice in the span of a year. Here is my review of it from June, and oh look, it made it into my Top 10 of 2018, as well! Some choice quotes from my reviews:
This book tried to ruin me, and completely succeeded. | If you like happiness, READ THIS. | 10/10 will recommend for the rest of my life. I LOVED THIS BOOK. | This was beautiful, and I’m going to reread it 1000 times.
I’m on number two of 1000, so I’m getting there. I love this book so much. IT’S FREAKING ADORABLE.
WHY DID I AVOID THIS SO MUCH? WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME? KAROUUUUUUU
I just love her a lot, okay. Actually, she might be my favorite female protagonist ever. Like, I’ll be straight with you guys–I am always here for a male protagonist. I don’t know why. I like writing them, and I like reading them. And I know this sounds horrible out loud, but I’ve gotten a little sick of the tropes and usual narratives that female protagonists fall under, so it takes a lot for me to love one now. (Zoya, my dear, you’ve got my heart forever.)
Yes. Please and thank you forever. (I’d like it to be noted that ^^^ was written at only 100 pages in, so I’ve really had a short time back with her, and I’m already so happy.)
Um okay, so I didn’t intend to read most of this in one day, but then I was near the last 100 pages, and you can’t just stop, all of the chapters are one consecutive scene told in different POVs, so I read 450 pages in one day for this, OOPS. But like, holy moly, it’s that good! I literally could not put this down. I was so absorbed in it, and I can’t believe I waited so long to read this series. This review is bonkers long.
What: The Dazzling Heights by Katharine McGee
Review: My review for The Thousandth Floor can be found here. This picks up right where the first one left off, and has a pretty similar plot. In the prologue, we find out someone dies, and we spend the entire novel wondering who. (Unless you’re me, and you forgot that someone died in the first chapter by the time you got to the last one.) There are two new towers that have been built called the Mirrors, one light and one dark, and everything is going to fall apart during the most ostentatious party ever.
This was everything I expected it to be, and it was great. It was a lot more predictable than the first one, and also pretty repetitive, but it’s still mindless drama, and I still love it. I also ended up focusing on different characters this time. I was so wrapped up in the Avery/Atlas drama last time that, stepping into this one, I was immediately drawn in by Rylin/Cole and Leda/Watt. It really is just like a dark CW show set in the future. It’s so eyeroll worthy sometimes, but in a really good way.
What: The Penultimate Peril by Lemony Snicket
Review: I can’t believe it, either, but I actually enjoyed this. I was told that I would probably end up liking the last three, and so far, that’s proving true. This was unpredictable, ghastly, and even shocked me at times. It made me laugh, and it made me actually want to pick up the next one sooner rather than later. I’m not sad to be almost done with this series, but I’m not as ready to let it go as I’d thought I would be.
What: Thick as Thieves by Megan Whalen Turner
Review: THESE BOOKS. I was honestly so aggravated for the first 100 pages because I had guesses about who the Attolian was, but I couldn’t be certain, and then there’s that line (no spoilers): “I punched the king in the face.” Ah yes, hello my dear. He’s seriously one of my favorite characters ever. Alex calls him “adorable and useless”, and yup, that’s why I love him.
This reminded me a lot of the first book, and I enjoyed it a lot, but not as much as I have the others. Obviously, I still gave it five stars, though a lot of that is because of the Attolian and duh Eugenides is amazing at the end, but I was really bummed out that we weren’t even in Attolia. It was nice to see the empire and start to see all the political pieces coming together, but man, I’m here for Eugenides. I don’t care if we’re in other POVs as long as he’s there, but to spend almost all of the book without him? Kind of bummed me out.
I also was planning on reading this during the month of February so I would be nice and ready for the new book next month, but now that’s been postponed until next year, so here I am, sad.
What: House of Furies by Madeleine Roux
Review: This book is terrifying, do not read it at night. I read a solid half of it at night, and I had to run back to my room from the bathroom because I was convinced any number of strange and awful things was coming after me. But also, I need to read the next one because wow. This was so freaking good. And so bizarre! Okay, first of all, it takes place in the 1800s, which I did not expect at all, but which somehow made everything even scarier? Like, all of the men are dapper and gentlemanly, but also murderers? The other housekeepers are kind and normal-looking, but also dangerous creatures straight out of an early Supernatural episode? It’s about this wayward girl, Louisa, who ends up working as a maid at Coldthistle House, which looks looming and dreary and creepy when first viewed, and is exactly that on the inside.
I had a lot of dear god no moments in this book, but the worst was probably Morningside’s feet. I’m still shuddering a little at them. This was delightfully creepy, and I am definitely reading the rest of the series. I really enjoyed the little snippets we get from Morningside’s book and how they all eventually tied into the story. I did not see that twist at the end coming at all, though it was totally obvious once it was revealed. There’s a lot of great lore in this, and it’s really well written.
What: Night of Cakes & Puppets by Laini Taylor
Review: THIS BOOK. The dedication is my favorite part–This book is dedicated to kissing. MY FAVORITE KIND OF BOOK.
I so enjoyed getting both Zuzana and Mik’s POV in this novella. THEY WERE SO SWEET. I’m also overwhelmingly sad that there’s only one more Laini Taylor book out there in the world for me to read. SIGH. Seriously, Zuzana and Mik are actual goals. I’ve never used that term before unironically, but I mean it. I love them so much, and this was the sweetest little book ever.
What: The City of Brass by SA Chakraborty
Review: WOW. This is a lot of good things wrapped into one. This is what happens when you set out with Children of Blood and Bone in mind, but you actually tell the story in a fully realized way. COBAB was so long for no reason, but could have been so long for a reason if it did what City of Brass did, and that’s take the lore and explore it in depth. This is high fantasy, guys, and it takes place in Egypt, which is everything I need in this life. Like, I have never read so much lore packed into one novel that was actually explained in an understandable and engaging way. I am just astounded by this story.
Like holy mother of something, guys. This is it. This is my new I will die for these characters book. All of them. Dara? OH HELL YES. Nahri? Watch out, she’s quickly climbing right up there to sit with Karou. Ali? My sad, sweet, asshole boy. Muntadhir? DON’T COME NEAR HIM I LOVE HIM. Jamshid? Wow, way to take me by surprise, Wylan van Eck. And beyond the characters, I can’t even. The world is just beyond anything that I ever could have possibly imagined, and it’s so well described in the littlest of details that I can immediately see everything. It all feels familiar, like I’ve been there before. The writing is masterful. The story is the type of in-depth, well-crafted, amazingly-paced thing I am always searching for. Read this book. Now I’m going to give myself one second of woah before I start in on the sequel.
Oh yeah, what is this about? Nahri accidentally summons Dara (my favorite trope ever, what’s good), who is basically a djinn but way cooler/sadder. In the best plot device ever, Nahri doesn’t suddenly realize she has these extraordinary powers–they’ve always been there, and she’s always known, she just hasn’t made a big deal about it because she doesn’t like calling attention to herself because she’s a thief. Seriously, this book delivers. So, Dara decides she obviously needs to be taken to his home city (which he was exiled from, mind you) because she’s got the same powers as these long lost basically gods that could heal people. Nahri’s unimpressed. Dara doesn’t care. Cue the roadtrip to Daevabad!
Okay, hold up. I wrote this review before I read the last 100 pages, and while those pages don’t change my review, they do amp up the emotional rollercoaster that I went on with this book, and this is just a warning to prepare yourselves because oh boy.
What: Tides of the Dark Crystal by JM Lee
Review: My review for Shadows of the Dark Crystal and Song of the Dark Crystal are linked. As you can see, my love for these books has increased with each one! This is also the first of a long list of preorders that I’ve fallen very behind on. And oh, it’s so good to return to these characters! Especially as I’ve just discovered there’s been a fourth book announced that’s coming out in August, and you can bet I’ve already preordered it. Again, this picks up right where the second one left off, and with another new narrator! This time, we’re following along in Amri’s POV, which I was super excited to get. I enjoyed him a lot as a character, and it was really nice to see the daylighter world through his cave-dwelling perspective.
And though I loved this, it wasn’t as great as the second one. A lot happened in very little time, and I thought this could have easily been a solid 100 pages longer. The traveling bits took a paragraph at most when they were traveling massive distances. We visited three very distinct cities in Thra in the blink of an eye. I did enjoy getting to see the different cultures, though I wish we’d had more time with the Dousans as we did with the Sifas, even if it only came in more description. Overall, this was good. I’m excited for the next one!
What: The World of Lore: Monstrous Creatures by Aaron Mahnke
Review: This book is absolutely delightful. It’s honestly super scary, but Mahnke has a hilarious voice, and so it’s just awesome. I feel like I’m sitting around a campfire at night being told a story that’s definitely going to give me nightmares, but it’s being told by my funny uncle, so I can’t stop laughing. It’s a really bizarre combination, and it works so well!
This covers everything from vampires to ghosts to possession to deep sea creatures. There’s no limit on the stories that can be told and the interpretations we can make of them, and this book does that in a funny, engaging way. I’ll definitely be reading the other two volumes of Lore currently out, and if you’re into podcasts, I’d say definitely give this a listen.
What: Locke & Key, Vol. 4: Keys to the Kingdom by Joe Hill & Gabriel Rodríguez
Review: Honestly, I can’t get enough of this story. I’ll probably end up finishing it next month. Regardless, this one did fall a little flat for me. I realize that it was a lot of setting things up to all unravel in the last two, but it was pretty slow, and I was pretty bummed about two things: manipulating Rufus and using Bode’s body. I mean, don’t get me wrong, they’re great ways to forward the plot, but also things that I’d kind of hoped wouldn’t be used. Despite that, this was still good, and I’m looking forward to seeing how it all ends!
What: The Master Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg
Review: My review for The Paper Magician and The Glass Magician are linked. My gosh, did I adore this book. I forgot just how sweet and soft this story was, and I’m so sad that the next one in the series isn’t about Ceony and Emery. Although, spoilers!, oh my gosh that ending! When Emery didn’t even wait a single day before asking Ceony to marry him, ugh. I’m dead. I love them so much. This truly is sweet and soft, that’s the best way to describe it. It’s just this quiet little book, only 200 pages long, of Victorian London and magic and propriety and fierceness. I will forever hold this trilogy in a special place in my heart.
This concludes the original trilogy for the Paper Magician series, and my what a conclusion. Ceony is ready to test for her magicianship, but there is still danger afoot. An old enemy from the last book, Saraj Prendi, is still at large and Ceony is terrified he’s coming after her, so she does the only logical thing and goes after him in true Ceony Twill fashion.
Holy books! I am waaaaaay ahead of my goal so far, and thus I have officially changed my Goodreads challenge to 150 books, which brings me to 14 books ahead of my goal currently. I didn’t quite get all the way through my February TBR (I only missed one!), but I did meet both of my additional goals for February–I read a classic (and didn’t hate it!) and reread something. I have a very specific goal for March, and that is to get through my damn preorders. As it stands, here is what I have from January, February, and upcoming in March.
- Ransacker by Emmy Laybourne
- The Last Life of Prince Alastor by Alexandra Bracken
- The Blood Spell by CJ Redwine
- Mist, Metal, and Ash by Gwendolyn Clare
- The Steel Prince by VE Schwab
- The Near Witch by VE Schwab
Suffice to say, I am very behind on my 2019 preorders, so I’m devoting as much time as possible to them in March. I don’t plan on getting through all of those in March, but at least a good chunk. However, as all of my monthly TBRs are supposed to be pre-2019 purchases, here is my March TBR:
- The Traitor Prince by CJ Redwine
- Onyx & Ivory by Mindee Arnett
- A Lite Too Bright by Samuel Miller
- City of Islands by Kali Wallace
- Geekerella by Ashley Poston
Obviously, if I want to read my preorder of The Blood Spell, I have to read the one that comes before it. I also put a fantasy in there to keep me interested, as well as a middle grade I meant to read forever ago and two contemporaries I’ve been looking at every time I go to pick a book. These are all purchases from early 2018, too, so starting to get through some of the long overdue backlist books. For my additional goals, my classic is (prepare yourself) Ulysses by James Joyce, which I will be starting on the very first of March so that I have the whole month to read it, and I’m aiming to reread City of Lost Souls.
What are your goals for next month? Have you read any of the ones above? Are you also madly in love with Karou?