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: 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: Loulie al-Nazari is the Midnight Merchant: a criminal who, with the help of her jinn bodyguard, hunts and sells illegal magic. When she saves the life of a cowardly prince, she draws the attention of his powerful father, the sultan, who blackmails her into finding an ancient lamp that has the power to revive the barren land—at the cost of sacrificing all jinn.
With no choice but to obey or be executed, Loulie journeys with the sultan’s oldest son to find the artifact. Aided by her bodyguard, who has secrets of his own, they must survive ghoul attacks, outwit a vengeful jinn queen, and confront a malicious killer from Loulie’s past. And, in a world where story is reality and illusion is truth, Loulie will discover that everything—her enemy, her magic, even her own past—is not what it seems, and she must decide who she will become in this new reality.
Genre: fantasy, retelling Rating: ★★★
The Stardust Thief was my BOTM pick, and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this because it sounded so promising. It’s loosely based on stories from One Thousand and One Nights, and all the storytelling and history of jinns were so beautifully crafted. There was so much potential here and so many great pieces to the story, but unfortunately I found myself disappointed in the end.
Marion: the new girl. Awkward and plain, steady and dependable. Weighed down by tragedy and hungry for love she’s sure she’ll never find. Zoey: the pariah. Luckless and lonely, hurting but hiding it. Aching with grief and dreaming of vanished girls. Maybe she’s broken—or maybe everyone else is. Val: the queen bee. Gorgeous and privileged, ruthless and regal. Words like silk and eyes like knives, a heart made of secrets and a mouth full of lies.
Their stories come together on the island of Sawkill Rock, where gleaming horses graze in rolling pastures and cold waves crash against black cliffs. Where kids whisper the legend of an insidious monster at parties and around campfires. Where girls have been disappearing for decades, stolen away by a ravenous evil no one has dared to fight… until now.
Genre: horror, young adult, fantasy, lgbt Rating: ★★★★★
Sawkill Girls has been on my TBR list for four(!) years, and I finally forced myself to read it for my LGBT+ reading challenge for the month of June. First, I am pleasantly surprised by the amount of gay horror books out there and will absolutely be reading more of those. Second, I’m low-key mad at myself for waiting so long to read this, because I am obsessed with it.