February was a weird month – I definitely read some super chunky books, but I also read some of the shortest things ever. I vacillated wildly between “Omg I am reading nothing!” to “I HAVE READ SO MANY THICC BOIS.” It was weird and I definitely struggled to not make myself feel bad when I was slogging through the bigger books. I ultimately ended up reading more things than I thought, so let’s talk about all of those!
The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell
As a Six of Crows six of hoe, I feel pretty bad when I read YA fantasy heist novels and the SoC klaxon won’t stop sounding in my head. I definitely enjoyed this one, especially because the audio was really well done, but I couldn’t help the mental comparisons I was making because SoC is truly the gold standard. I’m definitely interested in continuing with the second book, and I would recommend trying to go into this book blind and don’t compare it to anything else. I know, that can be super hard. 4 stars!
King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo
I recently wrote a full review on this one but suffice to say that, while this book is definitely shaking things up in the YA community, I dug it. Zoya for President. 4.5 stars.
The Navigator’s Touch by Julia Ember
This is the sequel to The Seafarer’s Kiss, although you could definitely get away with reading it on its own. I definitely enjoyed this follow up quite a lot – the Norse inspiration really speaks to me, and there is so much good gender and sexuality rep (at least from a CIS woman’s point of view, please seek out own voices reviews to double check!), and there were also imperfect characters getting themselves checked and learning and growing as individuals, and that was refreshing. If you’re interested in some queer Norse shenanigans, check both of these books out. 3.5 stars
Warm Up by V.E. Schwab
‘Member when I said I read some short shit? This is a tiny little story by Schwab that is a precursor to some of the events of Vicious, and it is OMINOUS. I wish I had known about it before I reread Vicious in prep for Vengeful, but I’m definitely going to revisit it when I reread the series in the future. 5 stars (duh).
Through the White Wood by Jessica Leake
This was an eARC I received several months ago, but I was waiting for it to be atmospherically appropriate outside before I dove in. I read and reviewed Jess’s debut novel, Beyond a Darkened Shore, last year, and I really liked it. Naturally, when I heard she was writing a new standalone that had cameos from her first book, I was immediately on board. This is a story steeped in Eastern European myth and based in a magical Russia, and I adored the atmosphere so much. I could take or leave the romance (although I loved a past romance that was part of the main storyline), but the main story really worked for me. If you’re interested in elemental magic, Russian aesthetics, and soft girls learning how to also be tough, check this one out! 4 stars.
The Bride Test by Helen Hoang
I read The Kiss Quotient a little while back, so when I saw that the spiritual sequel was available for download on Edelweiss without need for approval, I was down. While I didn’t enjoy this book in the same way that I did TKQ, I really enjoyed it for different reasons. Esme, our main character, is a total badass who can do absolutely anything, and it was so empowering to watch her make her way. I definitely recommend this book, although it definitely isn’t as smutty as the first one, which was sad. Sue me. 4 stars.
You Can Do All Things: Drawings, Affirmations and Mindfulness to Help With Anxiety and Depression by Kate Allan
This was a cute little picture book style ebook that was just full of adorable animals affirming me as I was reading and gave some tactics for managing anxiety. I received it as a gift from my friend Patricia who is DEFINITELY NOT MY SECRET SISTER, and I had a good time reading it. Not giving it stars, though.
Long May She Reign by Rhiannon Thomas
This was an impulse audio read from Hoopla, and I liked it! We follow Freya, who is more than 20 people down in the line of succession. When everyone gets poisoned at the King’s birthday banquet, she suddenly finds herself being coronated. Sounds like a great time, right? This was almost like a thriller because Freya was obsessed with finding out who was responsible for the mass murder, and I enjoyed that aspect. I didn’t feel particularly compelled by any of the characters, but that was ok. I liked the mystery! I also like that this was a standalone, which makes me feel pretty free and crazy as a fantasy reader. 4 stars!
Lady Smoke by Laura Sebastian
ONE OF MY MOST ANTICIPATED READS OF THE YEAR. I adored Ash Princess last year, and when Laura started divulging snippets of what was to come in this installment, I was practically foaming at the mouth. I love out main character, Theo. I love her friendships. I love the love triangle (WHO AM I) because of the way society is structured in Theo’s world. I can’t go into things too much because this is a sequel, but this book had 0 sophomore slump, and I just wanna die because I can’t have Ember Queen NOW. 5 stars.
Echo North by Joanna Ruth Meyer
This was a book that ended up on my radar because I follow Laura Weymouth, the author of The Light Between Worlds, which I love. I snagged a copy of this book during release week at one of my favorite indies, and I knew I had to dive in soon. I have never read East of the Sun, West of the Moon, but it is based in the same things that Beauty and the Beast is, so I immediately adored it. The setting was basically a character in and of itself, the angst was off the charts, and the atmosphere was absolutely A+. I want to acquire Meyer’s backlist STAT. 5 stars.
A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer
Have you heard of our lord and savior Beauty and the Beast retellings? This immediately followed up Echo North, and I was definitely in the BATB mood. I LOVED our main character, Harper, who is plucked from the streets of Washington D.C. in order to take part in the traditional beast curse we all know and angst over. There is so much privilege checking because Harper comes from a rough life, there is FAKE DATING, and every decision Harper makes truly feels like what a contemporary person would do in a crazy fantasy setting. I loved that, the epilogue killed me dead, and I am so stoked for another installment! 4.5 stars.
Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix by Julie C. Dao
This is the sequel to Forest of a Thousand Lanterns, which is a book I enjoyed last month! While I think I could have enjoyed this one on its own, I think it had an uphill battle in trying to undo the feelings that the first book worked so hard to instill in us. The first book is an Evil Queen origin story, and this one is 100% Snow White. So while I enjoyed the mythology we go through in this book, I had become attached to and sympathetic toward an evil character…and then I had to read from the good person? Not into it that much, but this is obviously a personal preference. 3.5 stars.
Amber & Dusk by Lyra Selene
This was an Owlcrate acquisition, and honestly I read it because I’ve been trying to damn hard to read all of my sub box books, which is an uphill battle. This was much shorter than I thought it would be! Our main character is an orphan from an impoverished area who develops magical powers and, in this world, this heavily implies noble birth. She makes her way to the capital city and, surprise! Finds herself embroiled in court politics. Chaos and a really evil sponsor ensue. I think you should go in mostly not knowing any more than this, so if you’re looking for a fun YA fantasy, snag this one! 4 stars.
The Fever King by Victoria Lee
As you might have seen last month, I tend to bump books up on my TBR when I see people being shitty in reviews for terrible reasons, like saying kids shouldn’t be exposed to non-straight characters! Wow! What a shitty reason! Anyway, this book isn’t really post-apocalyptic, but it is near future and set in an America that has been restructured into a variety of kingdoms, and it is also being ravaged by a virus that has a 90% death rate. The survivors, however, develop magical abilities. I really love speculative fiction like this, and I definitely recommend picking this one up! It is fast paced, a little angsty, and the world building is excellent. 4 stars.
Space Boy Vol. 2 by Stephen McCranie
This is a fluffy little graphic novel that I’ve had for a while (so long that I actually just got an email from my LCS saying that the 3rd volume is ready for me to pick up, yikes), and I was just feeling it one night so I devoured it! Amy is our main character, and she and her family get sent back to Earth when her father loses his job on a mining colony. They are held in status for the entirety of their shuttle journey, and when they arrive, 30 years have passed. Switching schools is always hard, but this just adds an extra level! The art style is adorable, there’s a mysterious character, and I really dig the futuristic slice-of-life narrative. 5 stars.
The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O’Neill
I lost my goddamned mind when I got a special small copy of this in my February Owlcrate. I’ve had the full-sized copy on my wishlist for about a million years, and it was exactly as cute as I hope it would be. In this adorable fantasy world, there are tiny dragons that grow tea leaves and flowers off their horns, and tea dragon husbandry is an art that is dying out. I don’t even drink tea and I would like a tea dragon now please and thank you. 5 stars.
If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio
Have you ever though “Man, I wish The Secret History had more Shakespeare?” You have? Excellent, read this book. The audiobook is phenomenal, the characters are intriguing, and the mystery kept me guessing the whole time. 4.5 stars.
Radiance by Grace Draven
I was feeling a little slumpy, and my friend Alex recommended I snag this book and try it out, and I am so glad I did! Not gonna lie, I’m getting more interested in romance-heavy fantasies – they tend to be super fast, and sometimes your girl likes to swoon. This is set in a fantasy world with human and non-human beings living in neighboring countries, and Ildiko, a human noble, is betrothed to Brishen, a Kai prince, in order to secure an alliance. Kai are wild looking humanoids that live by night, and humans and Kai DO NOT FIND ONE ANOTHER ATTRACTIVE. This is important and hilarious. I love the banter in the relationship in this book – IT IS SO HEALTHY. Like, I didn’t know how much I needed that healthy relationship. If you want a heartwarming romantic fantasy, please read this so we can talk about it. Thanks. 5 swoony stars.
Skyward by Brandon Sanderson
My heart. Oh my goodness, I adored this book so much. The audio was fantastic despite only being voiced by a single person. She did a wonderful job making each character different and memorable. This is a sci-fi book following Spensa, the daughter of a pilot who was executed for being a “coward.” She is a scrappy young girl who does everything she can to get into flight school and prove everyone wrong about herself and her father. There is a talking ship, there are side characters that rip my heart out, a hilarious talking ship, awesome worldbuilding, and did I mention that I really loved the talking ship? Seriously go read this. Right now. RIGHT NOW. 5 stars!
The Too-Clever Fox by Leigh Bardugo
This was about half an hour long, but I absolutely adored all the stories in Language of Thorns, so it was definitely worth picking up. I enjoyed driving around and listening to Grisha fairy tales, and I’ll definitely be listening to the others! 5 foxy stars.
Enchantée by Gita Trelease
I feel…conflicted about this book. I enjoyed the first half despite it feeling slow, but I stalled out around the midway point. I mostly blamed my aforementioned slumpiness, so I dabbled in a few others book and then came back to this one. I really enjoyed the atmosphere, but the last ~70 pages or so had me so damn confused. It’s like someone threw a brick on the accelerator and jumped out of the car, allowing it to go where the hell ever it wanted to go. I haven’t seen anyone else struggle as much as I did, so PLEASE let me know down below if you enjoyed it. 3-ish stars?
And there you have it! Comment down below if you have read any of these, or if you have any recommendations based on the ones I rated highly!