I read a total of eight books in February. Painful events happened this month that I turned to books to cope with. And I learned something.
It’s good to be strong, but there is such a thing as being too strong. You are allowed to feel weak and take time for self-care. Books allowed me do that, and so did my friends and certain family members.
The ratings are all over the place, ranging from five stars to two. I would say it was successful on that front, too. I shamefully admit I broke my book-buying ban by purchasing copies of novels I originally checked out of the library. Although, because I read them already, my physical TBR has not gotten any bigger. So, I guess it’s fine. Right?
Saga, Vol. 8 by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples
Volume 8 picks up right where Volume 7 left off. I can’t give too much away because it is the eighth book in a series, but what I can say is that I overall enjoyed it, even though I would not say it was one of my favorites in the series.
The most interesting thing about Volume 8 is that it touches on sensitive topics people in the real world don’t want to talk about. There is more world building in the same beautiful artwork this series has always had. Common themes of these graphic novels are the gray areas in a world not black and white, which was evident in Volume 8. However, the plot was quite boring and not much happened in terms of action.
Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
A beloved young adult novel, especially on BookTube, I can see why people enjoy Carry On. The story of Simon Snow, a boy wizard that turns the Chosen One trope on its head. However, this novel did not live up to the hype for me.
Carry On is clearly a spoof of Harry Potter, which I went into knowing. While I saw a lot of the Harry Potter characters in Carry On (such as Penelope being similar to Hermione), I did not feel connected to any of them, despite how likeable most of them were. In fact, the only one I can say I genuinely connected to is Baz; the .5 in the rating is for him. Aside from Baz, the only other interesting character was the Dumbledore figure in the novel. Plus, there were just too many POVs to deal with.
The chapters were generally very short, making it somewhat of an easy read. Only the book should have been 200 pages shorter, in my opinion. It was also kind of awkward to know Carry On was taking place in Simon’s eighth year of school without events from previous books to go off of.
I did like Watford and how it combined modern technology with magic. They even had regular soccer offered at the school. The magic system was easy to follow; people didn’t just use wands for magic and words were a big part of it.
Regardless of what I feel presently, I think I might reread Carry On in the future to see if my rating changes.
Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
In my last book haul, I mentioned that Tender is the Night was one of the books I was most excited to read. Powerhouse American couple Nicole and Dick Diver’s marriage is shaken with the arrival of beautiful young actress Rosemary Hoyt. Dick is Nicole’s psychiatrist as well as her husband and her wealth allows them to live it up on the French Rivera. While vacationing, the Divers meet Rosemary, who falls for Dick and whose friendship gives Nicole the strength that leads to Dick’s downfall.
Tender is the Night was written after F. Scott Fitzgerald had not published a book for nine years…and it shows. Fitzgerald’s writing style changed significantly. It was descriptive, but it made the story dense despite being 317 pages. There was a lot of over-explaining and over-foreshadowing. The classic Fitzgerald social commentary was still present, such the comments on the war and gender roles.
However, Rosemary becomes infatuated with Dick, but she has guilty feelings about it because she does genuinely like and admire Nicole. As for Dick, he also becomes infatuated with Rosemary, but she’s eighteen to his thirty-something. He is clearly a narcissist, going out of his way to prove his worth as a psychiatrist. None of the characters were that interesting, unlike those in Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.
Overall, Tender is the Night was hard to get into and hard to finish. The only things I can say I liked about it were the “psychiatrist going psycho” trope and how the women come into their own in spite of Dick.
The Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson
Though I completely strayed from my February TBR, I was in desperate need of poetry towards the middle of the month. Emily Dickinson is my all-time favorite poet. Her insights on life, death, and nature were what I needed. She asks the hard questions and makes you think. She criticizes religion, war, and societal expectations. While I was slightly overwhelmed with the amount of poems, I still loved The Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson.
The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace
I had The Princess Saves Herself in This One on hold at my library for the longest time. But it was worth the wait. I read this book in less than 24 hours. It is a free verse self-published poetry collection that focuses on healing, self-love, and self-awareness. Amanda Lovelace opens up about the abuse she experienced at the hands of her mother and how that affected the rest of her life, but also led her to becoming the person she is today. I did a whole post on how much I love The Princess Saves Herself in This One, if you are interested.
Speak: the graphic novel by Laurie Halse Anderson and Emily Carroll
I had no idea Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson was being adapted into a graphic novel illustrated by Emily Carroll until I happened upon it at Target. Since I was still sticking true to my book-buying ban, I got it out of my library instead. I read the original novel in high school, but have never owned my own copy. I decided to change that.
In case you don’t know, Speak follows Melinda, a thirteen-year-old girl who starts high school an outcast after calling the cops at a party. Even her best friend turns her back on her and she is a target of bullying. But what no one knows is that Melinda was raped by an upperclassman at that party. The book is her journey through healing and finding her voice again. Even in graphic novel, Speak is still a powerful story.
The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur
I read Rupi Kaur’s debut poetry collection, Milk and Honey, last year. I enjoyed it, except it did not live up to the hype for me personally. I got her recent publication, The Sun and Her Flowers, out of the library. And it blew me out of the water.
The Sun and Her Flowers is another collection of free-verse poetry. It covers relationships, trauma, and healing, as well as touches upon worldly issues such as immigration and female genocide. The Sun and Her Flowers is one I had to own for myself. Plus, it promises more great poetry from Rupi Kaur in the future.
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black
My first Holly Black book…and it was disappointing. I bought The Coldest Girl in Coldtown a few years ago, back when I was hardcore into vampires. However, given the recent publication of her new book The Cruel Prince, Holly Black’s other books have gotten attention. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown was one of them. And the reviews were not the best.
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is set in a world where vampirism is a plague that has infected a large portion of the world’s population. Coldtowns are quarantined cities housing vampires and those infected by the disease, as well as those obsessed with vampires. After a party, Tana, the main character, wakes up to find other guests dead, her ex-boyfriend infected and tied to a bed, and a brooding vampire chained to a wall. Fearing she is also infected, Tana and her two companions travel to the nearest Coldtown.
The main thing I enjoyed about The Coldest Girl in Coldtown was the nostalgia factor for me. The world of this novel was a nod to the dark, romantic, and slightly obsessive vampire culture humans create. But, overall, the book was ultimately boring. It was 100 pages too long. The characters were flat. The writing was not bad, but it could have been better. But I am glad I finally read The Coldest Girl in Coldtown.
What was your favorite book you read in February?