February 2022 Wrap Up | the best reading month I’ve had in a long time

I don’t think I have ever been this excited to write a wrap up, but after almost a year of a reading slump and not feeling like I loved reading as much as I used to, I’m finally back in a reading mood and it’s all thanks to a little challenge where I tried to read 100 pages every day for a week. After that challenge, I read so much and I loved most of the books immensely.

So, despite the fact that this blog post is late and my posting schedule went out of the window this week because work was wild and I had so much to do, I’m still really happy to share my thoughts on the 17 books I read in February!

Under One Roof by Ali Hazelwood (5 stars): This was such a fun and quick read. It has forced proximity and “enemies” who are attracted to each other, slowly become friends, and then become so much more. This book makes the evolution of their relationship so believable and it manages to actually show them becoming more and more important to each other. Also, as a bonus, this is really steamy.

Payback’s a Witch by Lana Harper (5 stars): I loved the witchy small town, the magic tournament, the humor, the captivating characters, the lovely sapphic romance, the banter between the two main characters, and the personal journey the main character went through. (Full review)

Count Your Lucky Stars by Alexandria Bellefleur (3.5 stars): I really liked the characters and their chemistry but the lack of communication got really annoying and the conflict was boring. (Full review)

Bending the Rules by Christina C. Jones (3.5 stars): This was a quick, entertaining read with lots of steam. It’s a good friends-to-lovers story, but the one big issue is that there’s quite a bit of miscommunication.

Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers (3 stars): Relatable main character, great friendships, and an interesting exploration of mental illness, but the writing wasn’t for me and the romance felt forced and awkward. (Full review)

Comfort Me With Apples by Catherynne M. Valente (5 stars): This was so unexpectedly good! I thought it was gonna be a completely different story, but it’s so smart and quietly disturbing. (Full review)

Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas (5 stars): This was a very slow, atmospheric book, it was strange and captivating. I was intrigued the entire time while reading and the ending had me at the edge of my seat. (Full review)

Clean Sweep by Ilona Andrews (4 stars): Ilona Andrews did it again, once I started reading this I didn’t want to stop. Their books are always compulsively readble and fun. They also come up with the most interesting concept, this is a mix of fantasy and sci-fi full of vampires, werewolves, different types of aliens, magical inns, advanced technology and so much more. The main characters are easy to root for and captivating, and the little hints of the romance were enough to make me want more.

Sweep in Peace by Ilona Andrews (3.5 stars): While this was interesting, I was having trouble being fully invested in the story for the first 60% because the main character had no real personal stakes in the plot, so I felt a little detached. I also missed the love interest who doesn’t show up for most of the book. Nonetheless, the last part of the book was SO GOOD, the way everything came together and the main character acting like a badass were things I really enjoyed.

One Fell Sweep by Ilona Andrews (4 stars): I really enjoyed this, it was action-packed and so fun to read. The main characters were great as always, it had an amazing cast of side characters (both old and new), the plot was really interesting and I enjoyed the twist that happened at the end. While I really like the main couple and we got some intense, emotional moments between them, I wish there were a few more quiet, nice moments of them connecting and falling in love outside of life-threatening situations. Also, while I liked the side couple, I think the build-up was missing, it’s almost like they went from 0 to 100.

Angel of Khan el-Khalili and The Haunting of Tram Car 015 by P. Djelí Clark (3.5 stars): Just like the first novella in the Dead Djinn Universe, both this short story and this novella showed glimpses of a fascinating and unique world and magic system and they had interesting characters. Nonetheless, the short format is simply not working for me with this series, still, I’m looking forward to reading the full-length novel.

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir (4 stars): this had an interesting concept, great main characters, good humor, a surprising change in direction, but it dragged so much at certain points. (Full review)

A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers (4 stars): Didn’t love the main character and found the beginning a bit boring but I liked the concept, the casual queerness, and the message about not tying your value to your job and productivity. (Full review)

Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto (4.5 stars): This is over the top, melodramatic and so fun. It’s not exactly a murder mystery, it’s more a story of how to get away with murder where things keep going wrong but in a really funny way. This has incredible main characters, the relationship between Meddy and the aunts is heartwarming but their bickering and rivalries are really funny at points too. There’s a second chance romance that’s a big part of the story, and while it was good, I think Nathan forgave Meddy way too easily and she should have groveled more.

I’m Still Here by Austin Channing Brown (4 star): This was a really good collection of essays, it was an interesting, quick read. There weren’t many new ideas in it, but what made it special was the way the author addressed race and religion and the reluctance of some Christians to recognize their racism and put in the work to change. I’m not a religious person but I still found what Brown had to say really captivating and thought-provoking.

The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw (4 stars): This short story collection is captivating, messy, and realistic. It talks mainly about queerness, womanhood, complicated mother/daughter relationships, and the intersections of these things with religion and faith. The writing is fantastic and, with the exception of one, I enjoyed every single story in this collection which almost never happens. My favorite stories were Eula, Peach Cobbler, Snowfall and How to Make Love to a Physics Professor.

What is your favorite and least favorite book of February? Was February a good reading month for you?

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Reviewing Sci-Fi Books: Project Hail Mary + A Psalm for the Wild-Built

Hi everyone! I’ve been trying to catch up on some 2021 releases that I didn’t read last year and these two sci-fi books were at the top of my list. I’m happy to say that overall I enjoyed both of them even if I had some issues that prevented me from completely loving them. Here are my thoughts:

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

Ryland Grace is the sole survivor on a desperate, last-chance mission—and if he fails, humanity and the Earth itself will perish. Except that right now, he doesn’t know that. He can’t even remember his own name, let alone the nature of his assignment or how to complete it.

All he knows is that he’s been asleep for a very, very long time. And he’s just been awakened to find himself millions of miles from home, with nothing but two corpses for company. His crewmates dead, his memories fuzzily returning, he realizes that an impossible task now confronts him. Alone on this tiny ship that’s been cobbled together by every government and space agency on the planet and hurled into the depths of space, it’s up to him to conquer an extinction-level threat to our species. And thanks to an unexpected ally, he just might have a chance.

The humorous tone of the book captured my attention as soon as I started reading, and it worked really well to offset the tense and hopeless situation the book revolves around. The first part of this book was so strong because it was easy to feel the tension and how desperate the situation was for the entire population of earth. Andy Weir used the two timeliness perfectly to create intrigue and keep the reader engaged; having this middle school teacher wake up in a spaceship with no memory of how he got there and then seeing the past and slowly understanding the dire situation kept the book interesting. And then the story takes an unexpected turn that added a very compelling element to the story and the way the book explored the consequences of that change in direction was very engrossing at first.

Nonetheless, after a while, the plot basically stopped progressing and the new elements stopped being as interesting. The book started to drag because there are certain interactions and developments that were interesting at first but that became repetitive and monotonous, and that may have been the author’s intent since that’s a realistic portrait of those experiences but it did make the reading experience a little less fun. Also, sometimes it felt like the author got caught up in showing all the cool science and forgot about the story.

Still, the book picked up again once things started to progress and I was at the edge of my seat for most of the last 25% when everything kept going wrong and the characters had to come up with riskier plans to try to save the world. Nonetheless, while everything going wrong can add tension and excitement, there’s a fine line before it stops doing that and instead, it makes the reader go “when is this going to end?”, and this book was very close to crossing that line for me. But I feel like ultimately it didn’t cross it and I actually enjoyed the ending. It was bittersweet, unexpected and it fit the story well.

RATING: 4 STARS

A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers

Ryland Grace is the sole survivor on a desperate, last-chance mission—and if he fails, humanity and the Earth itself will perish. Except that right now, he doesn’t know that. He can’t even remember his own name, let alone the nature of his assignment or how to complete it.

All he knows is that he’s been asleep for a very, very long time. And he’s just been awakened to find himself millions of miles from home, with nothing but two corpses for company. His crewmates dead, his memories fuzzily returning, he realizes that an impossible task now confronts him. Alone on this tiny ship that’s been cobbled together by every government and space agency on the planet and hurled into the depths of space, it’s up to him to conquer an extinction-level threat to our species. And thanks to an unexpected ally, he just might have a chance.

My expectations for this book were really high because I loved the two Becky Chambers books I’ve read, and while this wasn’t everything I hoped for, it was still a good read. The concept of the book was really interesting, a world where robots suddenly became self-aware and decided to live apart from humans without contact with them, and humans are trying to fix the mistake of the past by looking after nature and respecting the decision of robots. Overall, the book had a very hopeful tone that started with this concept, the idea that humans can change and decide to work together, commit to saving the environment, and learn to respect other beings.

My main problem was that I found Sibling Dex to be a boring main character, and since almost half of the book is focused only on him, his job as a tea monk and his journey, I wasn’t that invested. Nonetheless, I really appreciated the casual queerness (Sibling Dex is nonbinary) and getting to see different parts of the world because of his job as a tea monk implied a lot of traveling. Furthermore, once Mosscap, a robot and the second main character, is introduced things become better (plot and character-wise). Mosscap is a really wholesome character and it adds so much warmth to the story. Also, it was interesting seeing Dex and Mosscap learning about each other’s cultures and ways of life. This book does a very good job of addressing difference and otherness, the way two cultures can see and understand the same thing in very different ways.

Lastly, this book is thought-provoking in more than one way, but what stuck with me the most is the powerful commentary on separating our value from what we do, what we contribute and our productivity, which is reflected in my favorite quote from the book: “You keep asking why your work is not enough, and I don’t know how to answer that, because it is enough to exist in the world and marvel at it. You don’t need to justify that, or earn it. You are allowed to just live.”

RATING: 4 STARS

Have you read these books? What Sci-Fi books have you read and loved recently?

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Reading Other People’s Favorite Books of 2021 | TBR

Hi everyone! As you may know, I usually don’t make tbr because I’m a mood reader, but after the abysmal reading year I had in 2021, I decided that I needed to do something to try to find some amazing books in 2022. After thinking about it for a while, I decided to put together a tbr with books included in favorite books of 2021 lists of bloggers, booktubers, and people from book twitter. To pick the books for this tbr, I set some rules:

  1. It had to be on the list of favorite/best books of 2021 of more than 1 person
  2. It had to have good reviews from my goodread friends
  3. It had to sound interesting to me

After going through SO MANY lists of favorites/best books of 2021, I finally have a tbr of 6 books that I’m looking forward to reading in the first few months of 2022.

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir: This was already on my tbr because it sounded interesting and because I have been hearing great things about it all year. It feels like everyone loves this book, so many people that I follow on different platforms and that have completely different reading tastes have enjoyed this book, so I’m hoping I won’t be the exception.

Piranesi by Susanna Clarke: This sounds a little like The Starless Sea, which was one of my favorite books of 2020, so I’m hoping I’m going to love it. I enjoy clever, layered, confusing books, so this sounds right up my alley.

The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake: for what I gather this was a hit on booktok and it spread all through the bookish community, and most people seem to love it. I have heard people compare this to The Secret History, which is a book I loved, so I’m excited for some dark academia in a fantasy setting.

The Hollow Places by T. Kingfisher: I started to read more horror in 2021 and I’m excited to continue to explore that genre, so I’m happy that a horror book made it to this list. Still, I’m a little worried because from what I can tell this is a polarizing book, people either love it or hate it, so I’m hoping to fall in the camp that loves it.

Finlay Donovan is Killing It by Elle Cosimano: this book has such a quirky premise and for I understand it’s almost like a cozy mystery, which sounds perfect for me. I have heard that the journey this book takes you on is really surprising, so I’m intrigued.

The Inheritance of Orquidea Divina by Zoraida Córdova: I think I’m going to love this, I started it a few months ago and made it 15% into the book but I had to return the audiobook to my library, so I’m waiting to get it back. But I’m so glad to see it on other people’s lists and I can’t wait to continue listening to it.

Have you read these books and did you enjoy them? What books have you seen a lot on people’s favorite books of 2021 lists?

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