february reading wrap up | 2023

hi hi, again! i am so excited to talk about the ten things i read in the month of february! 

basically, i am posting my january, february, and march wrap ups – and then i will be doing my first quarter of 2023 statistics! i am still slowly getting back into reviews + blogging, but my hunger for reading is still very much here – and i am so very happy about it! but maybe for this year, i will focus more on doing quarterly things like this while trying to get back into the swing of more things bookish content! i hope you enjoy + thank you always for spending some of your time with me. 🤍

Finale (Caraval, #3) by Stephanie Garber
➽ 1.) Caraval ★★★★
➽ 2.) Legendary ★★★★

“I used to love the idea of something being so tremendous that it was worth dying for. But I was wrong. I think the most magnificent things are worth living for.”

I read book one in 2016 and book two in 2017, so it has been a while since i have been immersed into this world! But i very much wanted to finish out this series (in 2023) so i could pick up once upon a broken heart! Sadly, I didn’t love this one. I still saw that magical shine of the world in glimpses throughout this book (like the midnight market!), but I just found most of the characters so insufferable. Like, Julian was the only character I cared about and was empathetic towards. The rest? Questionable choice after questionable choice. And the alternating perspectives of the sisters making those questionable choices did not do this story any favors, sadly. I also just really hate the trope at the end with how things got mended! (view spoiler) But i can’t wait to see how i will feel with the new series and i hope it brings back the magic of caraval for me!

trigger + content warnings: blood depiction, getting blood for magic, loss of a loved one/loss of a parent, grief depiction, abusive parent, kidnapping, captivity, murder, possession, heart attacks, torture, gore, and spiders!

Emergency Skin by N.K. Jemisin

“Not kings. Just selfish men.”

nk jemisin is so brilliant and such a gift to our world. i really recommend going into this one without reading reviews, just enjoy this wonderfully crafted story that is very clever and… ahhh, i just love jemisin so much. also, personal to me, i love an unexpected colorado river mention 🙂

tw/cw: racism, colorism, misogyny, misgendering, slavery, mention of cancer, ageism, ableism, fatphobia

Bloody Summer by Carmen Maria Machado

“Even if it meant being wild on soil never meant to bear me.”

This was harrowingly heartbreaking and carmen is really such a gifted author and can evoke so much pain and so much healing, even with so few pages. This short story is told under the guise of a research paper from the future, and moves forward with a new article or new interview, researching children’s hand clapping games that gives clues about how a small Pennsylvania town, named Never-Again, was massacred by tigers in 1999, where only one child did not disappear. With the last interview in this research project being from that sole survivor, now very much an adult. And this reading like a real piece of nonfiction really just added a whole other layer. But carmen always weaves this unexplainable magic of breaking my heart and simultaneously healing it with each piece they craft, and this short story was no different. To find freedom and power from your trauma(s) is something i deeply wish for everyone.

trigger + content warnings: a lot of off page violence to children, off page rape and sexual assault, off page pedophilia, mention of suicide, mentions of colonization, death, blood depictions, drawing blood, animal death. (i know these are some heavy tws but truly all were done in a very nongraphic way for me, personally. But still use caution for your own self and mindset.)

Finlay Donovan Is Killing It (Finlay Donovan, #1) by Elle Cosimano

“My relationship with Panera was complicated.”

okay i am so not the target audience for this, and i still really loved it. and i was constantly surprised, which is something i didnt expect going in! but it did touch on some dark things, so i will post some tw/cw down below, but highly recommend this to anyone, even if you think it’s not for you! (maybe especially if you think it’s not for you!)

trigger + content warnings: mention of cheating in past, blood, abusive relationships, drugging attempt, mention of stalking, mention of sexual assault + rape, mention of taking photos without consent, mention of blackmail, very brief mention of trafficking, maybe a very brief mention of cancer (“the big c”), hurt/abandoned dog.

The Disordered Cosmos: A Journey into Dark Matter, Spacetime, and Dreams Deferred by Chanda Prescod-Weinstein

“Access to a dark night sky—to see and be inspired by the universe as it really is—should be a human right, not a luxury for the chosen few.”

highly recommend this to everyone, but especially people studying and working in stem spaces! i still feel a little uncomfy reviewing nonfiction (hopefully i can get better at it, but if not… that’s okay too) but this one just really meant a lot to me on a lot of different levels. i am so happy it is now part of my universe. 

A Dowry of Blood (A Dowry of Blood, #1) by S.T. Gibson

“I made you into my private Christ, supplicated with my own dark devotions.”

I love epistolary novels, but this one could very well be my favorite. This is a reimagining of dracula, but told from the pov of his first bride who is writing a letter to him about their story, and we learn from the very first letter that she became his downfall. But this is also a story about abusive relationships and how power dynamics, manipulation, gaslighting, are sometimes very difficult to see. We get to see their story unfold from the very first day he made her a vampire under the promise of saving her to the very end where promises of love could no longer be masked as unconditional.

This book also very much discusses consent and how power dynamics and manipulation also can play a part in an individual saying yes when they may not under other healthier and safer circumstances. And also just… how hard it can be to leave an abusive relationship… especially when he is a powerful immortal vampire.

There is a lot of overall morally grey things happening too, and something in part 3 I just personally didn’t love – so that is why this sadly did not receive a full five stars from me. But everything else was actual perfection, the writing felt like eating honey in reading form (truly some of the best prose I’ve read in years), and overall this was such a powerful read that i know i will keep with me forever.

trigger + content warnings: blood, war, death, murder, abuse, gaslighting, ptsd, trauma, grief, depression, self harm for blood, self harm (with needle), anxiety, plague, medical experimentation, brief mention of human trafficking, loss of a loved one

Mysteries of Thorn Manor (Sorcery of Thorns, #1.5) by Margaret Rogerson
Sorcery of Thorns ★★★★

“When she opened it, she discovered a handwritten dedication on the patterned endpapers: To my beloved—may you always believe in fairy tales. Smiling, she traced her fingers over the letters, feeling the indentations they had left on the paper. This was one of the things she loved best about books. She might never know who had written the dedication, or how long ago, or to whom, but she could briefly clasp hands with them across eternity, a chance meeting of souls made possible by their shared love of a story.”

this was a super cozy and fun novella that i really recommend if you’re missing the amazing characters from sorcery of thorns. and you all know that i adore a magical house setting and exploring all the magical rooms, with some very alive grimoires! but to see it with my favorite sorcerer, apprentice librarian, demon (and a new character)… who are stuck inside this labyrinth during the snowy season? i really was living my best reader life. but sadly, i just didn’t love the last half nearly as much as the set up and first half. this is a very quick, cozy, happy read. and the food descriptions were perfection as well. Elisabeth is just a really good character and i really hope we continue to see more adventures with her and this crew (and demonslayer)! but also, this (in my praying opinion) is a very nice set up for my favorite morally grey demon companion. i still highly recommend this one, especially on a cozy wintery night!

cw/tw: blood depiction, harm to get blood for magic, grief + trauma depictions, extreme nightmares, loss of a loved on in the past, talk of murders/death. (this is a very light book, and all of these things are very briefly mentioned or shown)

Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries (Emily Wilde, #1) by Heather Fawcett

“If anyone were to claim greater happiness in their careers than I do in poking about sunlit wildwoods for faerie footprints, I should not believe it.”

A woman who has been in love with the fae all her life and is taking us along on her academic research with the encyclopedia she is currently writing about them and her experiences with them? Oh, what more could I possibly ask for friends? Actually the life i wish i could have if i was around in 1909. This is also told epistolary style, with a lot of field notes, but a lot of stories, and some unexpected entries as well. But this was just a book that really worked for me and my reading wheelhouse (and heart).There is a little romance too that is also very sweet and again… the field notes are just so good. We also get to travel to some fae realms to solve a mystery that did get a little dark – so please use caution. Like, there are a lot of cozy vibes and moments and settings (omg did i love the market too) in this, but, again, there are a lot of darker themes and the story takes showing the dark faery side of things! But i am really and truly begging for a book two.

trigger + content warnings: mention of loss of a loved one in past, mention of suicide very briefly twice, talk of kidnapping + actual kidnapping, violence, blood, gore, vomit, animal violence + death, child abandonment, spider mentions

Honey & Spice by Bolu Babalola

“The world is doable when she is near me.”

oh i was invested in so much… this was the best romance ive read in years! highly highly highly recommend! but as much as i loved the romance, the friendships were really the star of this for me. healing, and hope, and building new friendships, and rebuilding old friendships. and seeing platonic breakups be even harder than romantic breaks ups so much of the time, and the trauma that can come from that… very beautiful and powerful to me. i loved this completely.

trigger + content warnings: racism, colorism, harassment, unwanted touching, police brutality, cancer, sick parent, hospital/medical talk, talk of cheating, anxiety, trauma, mention of throwing up, blackmail, unwanted photos being taken, parent cheating,

The Moth Keeper by Kay O’Neill

“How would life feel if I didn’t have to always hold on tight against the darkness? Who would I be if I could live in the light?”

i just am always completely in love with k o’neil’s characters, worlds, and themes. they create stories that are such a gift to our world, and this newest graphic novel will probably resonate with so many people who are reading this review, because the central theme is all about burn out and not realizing when you need a break and when you need some help, too. we are all so small in the grand scheme of things, and it’s so easy for things to feel overwhelming, especially these last few years, and especially in a pandemic that is still going on. but our value as creators and, more importantly, humans, will never ever be dependent on how much we produce.

this is also a very heartfelt tale about community, and the things we can achieve when we are kind and offer help to people – and how that kindness and help can go such a long way and have the most beautiful healing rippling effect to so many. but this also touches on how hard it can be to ask for help, when you have been turned away from it by people who are supposed to be there for you. but also, in turn, how unconditional love + friendship can be the most powerful force in all the world.

ah, this is just perfection. i wish i could put this story in the hands of everyone, but especially every child. i immediately finished the arc, and purchased a physical for my own personal library (which surprisingly had the most beautiful art under the dustjacket). i think this will for sure make my best of 2023 come december. truly, a gift to this universe in all ways.

trigger + content warnings: mention of loss of a loved one, parental neglect + abandonment

okay friends, that’s the ten things that i was able to read in the month of february! it is not lost on me that i keep reading ten books a month… but you also won’t hear me complaining! i hope march is wrapping up nicely for you, and i hope you have a good april filled with some magical reads! stay safe + i am sending you so much love! 

10 thoughts on “february reading wrap up | 2023

  1. Once again several of these are on my TBR. I’m really really looking forward to Mysteries of Thorn Manor I’ve been considering doing a reread of Sorcery of Thorns before reading it though just because I loved it so much.

    Liked by 1 person

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