I can’t believe spring is only two weeks away and that we’re already a full week into March. February was a really good month for me. In terms of media, this was a typical, slow month for me. I watched two movies this month: The Menu (★★★★★, fight me) and The Strays (★★); played an embarrassing amount of Dead by Daylight; and started the newest season of Diablo III (sorcerer class til death).
More importantly, I prided myself on reading ten books again for the month! I’m currently five books ahead of schedule to hit my reading goal for the year, which is a great feeling. I somewhat feel myself hitting a wall with reading, but I do think it’s simply because I’m slugging through a young adult fantasy when my bones are screeching and itching for more of this horror obsession that I’m currently in (this isn’t really any different than any other time of the year for me, but shh).
Most of my reads came from the Black History Month readathon I did, but I managed to sneak in three others. These are all the books I read in February with ratings below:
It feels surreal that we’re approaching March already, which means it’s time for a summary on my readathon for Black History Month. I read all of the chosen books except for The Merciless Ones, which I’m about a third of the way through right now. I tried to pick books with varying genres for the month, and truthfully I think I’m just not in the mood to read YA fantasy, unfortunately, which is why it’s taken me quite a while to get through this, even though I loved The Gilded Ones and was highly anticipating this sequel. I plan to power through it, because I’m at a point where the plot is picking up, and I have only heard great things about this book.
I think this is one of the harder readathon themes I have chosen or will ever choose, because even in books where Black women are empowered, there is such a daunting heaviness to them. There were plenty of times where I had to put down what I was reading (especially Yellow Wife) because the subject matter was so depressing. The books I chose discussed so many heavy topics, too: how public education fails Black children; abuse; slavery; the struggle of cultural identity; substance abuse and the government’s responsibility for the crack epidemic that ravaged Black communities; gentrification; and so much more.
These books all have wildly different plots, but the overarching theme of all of them is the amount of blatant racism Black people encounter every single day, in every single instance of their lives. Even in The Merciless Ones, in a fantasy land with mythical creatures, Deka recounts a time when she wished for lighter skin and eyes, to be more socially acceptable and “normal.”
These stories take place in present day, the 1800s, in fantasy worlds, and yet they all manage to drive home the point that just because slavery was abolished 150 years ago doesn’t mean Black people haven’t been facing the effects of systemic racism their entire lives.
Black History Month is such an excruciatingly important time, and it feels unfair that it’s the shortest month of the entire year. In February, support Black-owned businesses, educate yourself on history, read books by Black authors, listen to Black podcasts, watch Black tv and movies, join causes and uplift Black voices. But also, don’t forget to do this every month. Being an ally means that the significance and history of Black people spans so much more than just one month.
Summary: Nova Albright, the first Black homecoming queen at Lovett High, is dead. Murdered the night of her coronation, her body found the next morning in the old slave cemetery she spent her weekends rehabilitating. Tinsley McArthur was supposed to be queen. Not only is she beautiful, wealthy, and white, it’s her legacy. Everyone in Lovett knows Tinsley would do anything to carry on the McArthur tradition.
No one is more certain of that than Duchess Simmons, Nova’s best friend. Duchess’s father is the first Black police captain in Lovett. For Duchess, Nova’s crown was more than just a win for Nova. It was a win for all the Black kids. Now her best friend is dead, and her father won’t face the fact that the main suspect is right in front of him. Duchess is convinced that Tinsley killed Nova–and that Tinsley is privileged enough to think she can get away with it. Duchess is determined to prove Tinsley’s guilt. And to do that, she’ll have to get close to her. But Tinsley has an agenda, too.
Genre: mystery, young adult Rating: ★★★
The cover of this book had me hooked when I saw it a few months prior to release, and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. I loved the idea of a YA thriller about a friend seeking justice for her Black friend who was murdered. However, I have a lot of mixed feelings about this book.
Summary: Once upon a time, a man who believed in fairy tales married a beautiful, mysterious woman named Indigo Maxwell-Casteñada. He was a scholar of myths. She was heiress to a fortune. They exchanged gifts and stories and believed they would live happily ever after–and in exchange for her love, Indigo extracted a promise: that her bridegroom would never pry into her past.
But when Indigo learns that her estranged aunt is dying and the couple is forced to return to her childhood home, the House of Dreams, the bridegroom will soon find himself unable to resist. For within the crumbling manor’s extravagant rooms and musty halls, there lurks the shadow of another girl: Azure, Indigo’s dearest childhood friend who suddenly disappeared. As the house slowly reveals his wife’s secrets, the bridegroom will be forced to choose between reality and fantasy, even if doing so threatens to destroy their marriage . . . or their lives.
Genre: fantasy, horror Rating: ★★★★★
The amount of times I pick up a book because it has a gorgeous cover only to be disappointed in the story is higher than I want to admit (mostly because it means admitting I’m a glutton for and can be won over with pretty cover art), but The Last Tale of the Flower Bride did not disappoint. It’s best to go into this story knowing as little as possible, and for that reason I will try to sing it the praises it deserves without giving away too much.
Summary: More than a decade ago, Mira fled her small, segregated hometown in the south to forget. With every mile she traveled, she distanced herself from her past: from her best friend Celine; from the eerie Woodsman plantation rumored to be haunted by the spirits of slaves; from the terrifying memory of a ghost she saw hen a dare-gone-wrong almost got Jesse—the boy she secretly loved—arrested for murder.
Now Mira is back in Kipsen to attend Celine’s wedding at the plantation, which has been transformed into a lush vacation resort. But for all its fancy renovations, the Woodsman remains a monument to its oppressive racist history. Yet the darkest elements of the plantation’s past have been carefully erased—rumors that ghosts roam the lands, seeking vengeance on the descendants of those who tormented them, which includes most of the wedding guests. As the weekend unfolds, Mira, Jesse, and Celine are forced to acknowledge their history together, and to save themselves from what is to come.
Genre: Horror, thriller Rating: ★★★★★
When the Reckoning Comes is a book that will stay with me for a long time. I spent a lot of time ruminating on what I’d just read when I finished this story, because the truth is that this book made me incredibly uncomfortable, angry, and heartbroken. This was an amazing book, but the content is so heavy-hitting, and it just left me feeling raw in the aftermath.