February wasn’t as bad as January, and while I haven’t found any new novels I love, I haven’t hated anything and I reread a favorite.
I read 13 books:
- 8 new novels, 3 of them were ARCs
- 1 new short story
- 2 rereads, one was a short story
- 2 novellas, one of them was an ARC I DNFed
I also DNFed two books before the 40% mark. They were Out on Good Behavior by Dahlia Adler and Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann. I put them down when I realized I wasn’t liking them and there was nothing wrong with them apart from the fact that they were romance books and I really didn’t want to read romance.
Take Your Medicine by Hannah Carmack – ★★, DNF 50%
I DNFed this novella because I didn’t like the writing and when I was halfway through there was basically no plot. It’s a Southern Gothic f/f retelling of Alice in Wonderland, which sounded like a really good idea, but ultimately wasn’t.
The Unbinding of Mary Reade by Miriam McNamara – ★★
Historical fiction about bi pirates also seemed a good idea, but the author decided to write a pirate book in which the sources of all the conflict (yes, all of it) were homophobia and sexism. There was no adventure whatsoever, not even a subplot, and what’s the point of pirates when they don’t actually do anything?
Could have been better
Reign of the Fallen by Sarah Glenn Marsh – ★★★¼
This was f/f necromancers instead, and this time the book actually delivered! It wasn’t flawless and the writing could have been better, but I really liked the characters and I feel like this series has potential.
The Queen of Ieflaria by Effie Calvin – ★★★¼
A fantasy romance book about the relationship between two princesses, and also one of the cutest things I’ve ever read. I loved the romance, but I wanted the side characters and the world to be more developed.
The Prey of Gods by Nicky Drayden – ★★★½
This books gets bizarre right and the plot wrong, as at times it was so weird nothing made any sense anymore (and not always in a good way), but I still really liked it! It’s one of those books you can’t forget. It also subverts the Bury Your Gays trope and there is a PoV trans character.
The Price’s Guide to the Occult by Leslye Walton – ★★★¾
The plot may have been really cliché and the love triangle was frankly unnecessary, but this book had the best atmosphere and writing. I also loved the main character and her gay grandmothers. Heavy TWs for self-ham and parental abuse.
Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer – ★★★★
I don’t know how to summarize my feelings on this, I’ll just send you to my review instead; it’s linked above if you want to know what I thought of this mess. Anyway, the more I think about it, the more I find it disturbing.
The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza by Shaun David Hutchinson – ★★★★
This was weird in a very good way. Everyday life at the end of the apocalypse, but it’s about free will and choices of all things? I may prefer my weird less… explicitly meaningful (did the author beat me over the head with the message? yes) because it’s more fun and I don’t feel like I’m being talked down to, but this was still very interesting. It would have been a five star if I hadn’t hated the romance.
American Panda by Gloria Chao – ★★★★½
A contemporary book about a Taiwanese-American girl at MIT who is there just because her strict parents want her to be a doctor. I loved how many layers the main character had and the mysophobia rep. Also, really cute romance.
Darkling by Brooklyn Ray – ★★★★½
This was a nice, very short, not stressful m/m witchy romance with a trans main character, and it was really good at what it was supposed to be. I want to see more of these characters now.
The Quiet Like a Homecoming by Cassandra Khaw (short story) – ★★★★¾
I can’t recommend this author enough. There’s something about Khaw’s writing that is so unique and evocative it makes all her stories stand out. The Quiet Like a Homecoming is a short story that was published in Lightspeed, Issue 39 (free online, link above); it’s a new twist on selkie/shapeshifter wife stories in which the main character is a cat-woman shifter, set in Sweden. It’s beautiful and angry and what can I say, her writing has claws.
The Stars Are Legion by Kameron Hurley (reread) – ★★★★¾
The Stars Are Legion is my gross space biopunk fave with the best worldbuilding and a cast I love (they’re a mess. They’re also kind of scary but I really do love Zan.) Everyone is a lesbian, there’s a lot of body horror and weird cephalopods, there’s the most unhealthy love triangle ever and people try to kill each other often. Do not recommend if you aren’t interested in the genre, don’t like body horror or just really hate cephalopods.
The Knight of Chains, the Deuce of Stars by Yoon Ha Lee (short story) – ★★★★★
I don’t reread short stories often, but this is one of my favorites ever and I wanted to revisit it. This is the most flower-y writing I’ve seen from Lee so far, even more than in Ninefox Gambit. I have loved his writing in every form, but this might be my favorite – it feels like a fairytale set in the Machineries of Empire universe. I love how he uses math in the descriptions: I can’t exactly tell how everything looks, but I get the feeling and that’s what really matters to me. Also, I’ve always loved game/war metaphors and this story is about that.
What were your favorite books in February? Have you read any of these?