Is it just me, or has this month seemed reeeaaalllyyy long? It seems like I read most these books months ago. Regardless, March is finally here, which means it’s time to recap February’s reads. Last month, I read 14 books, which coincidentally is the same number I read in January. Considering that there were 3 fewer days in February, I think that’s pretty good!
#1 – 99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne – ★★★★
Boy hair and girl body. I’m sexy as hell.
|This is a very introspective novel. It felt kind of like reading a classic in which not much happens externally, but a lot happens in the characters’ hearts and minds. I accidentally forgot a hockey game was on and read this through the entire first period – so that says a lot. Overall, it was missing something for me, but I’m not sure what it is. But that extra Hating Game epilogue was so sweet omg.|
#2 – The Mark of the King by Jocelyn Green – ★★★★
But beware that bitterness doesn’t poison you, ma chère. If you feed it, it will eat you up instead.
This is some good storytelling. While I think some bits did get a little preachy, I still enjoyed it. I especially loved Julianne’s relationship with the half-French, half-Choctaw girl, Lily.
#3 – Romancing Mister Bridgerton by Julia Quinn – ★★★★
He made her more confident, more daring. He made her more…herself. Or at least the herself she wished she could be.
|I certainly didn’t expect to burst into happy tears at the end of this one, so well done, Ms. Quinn. Well done|
#4 – Step Aside, Pops by Kate Beaton – ★★★★
|Just like the first book, this one was great. I especially liked the comics with the Founding Fathers.|
#5 – Midnight Blue by L.J. Shen – ★★
Flaws were intimate. Telling. Pure.
I spent much of the book being angry at these people acting like a bunch of idiots. I liked Alex, but he’s also an asshole. I’m having a hard time reconciling that. He may have actual legitimate feelings for Indie, but that doesn’t change the fact that he only went after her in the first place to piss off Lucas and then to use her to ease his pain. A hurt asshole is still an asshole. So, your family sucks, your friends suck, your ex sucks — that doesn’t mean you have to suck. And his being sweeter at the end doesn’t convince me. Honestly, at a few points toward the end I would have taken out a restraining order on him. The big plot twist seemed kind of out of left field and very makjang tbh. I wanted to like this book. Funny thing is, although this is my first L.J. Shen (emphasis on”first” because I will read more), I can tell from reading this book that she is a good writer. You know a writer’s good when you don’t really like their book but want to read more by them. I can see how some people would love this book, but if I imagine Alex as a real person, if I were Indie, I’d have run for the hills early on.
#6 – There Are Girls Like Lions, Ed. Cole Swensen – ★★★
I like the itch I provoke.
The rustle of rumor
While a handful of the poems in this collection struck me in particular, most of them are sadly forgettable. This is not the only collection of its kind; it reminds me of ‘Furies: An Anthology of Women Warriors,’ edited by Eve Lacey, but that is not a criticism of the book. In fact, I wish there were even more collections like them since they all dig into femininity and womanhood in ways with which I am able to connect. I think that any time you have a collection of poems, especially by different poets, some will stick with you more than others. The poems that I found particularly good were by Edna St. Vincent Millay, Kimiko Hahn, Tracy K. Smith, Mary Oliver, Sandra Cisneros (hers was my favorite), Emily Dickinson, and Vera Pavlova.
#7 – The Colonel’s Lady by Laura Frantz – ★★★
That man is in love with you, Roxanna Rowan. Why don’t you see it?
I started off really liking this book. The imagery was great, the characters vivid…but it was so slow. And on top of that, Roxanne started off smart, but gradually she became dumber. She kept contradicting herself, as well, and was kind of hypocritical. Although admitting she loves him despite whatever wrongs he may or may not have committed, she just refuses to believe that Cass loves her, although I’m not sure why. She comes up with reasons why he would do things for her when it’s so glaringly obvious that he loves her. It’s not until she realizes that she could actually lose him that she has her aha moment, which was honestly too late for me. The battle at the end, along with the “big reveals” seemed way too easy for me with a lot of deus ex machina at play. Things just fell into place way too easily. Despite all that, this is a good book. I don’t want my distaste for Roxanna’s character or the way things were tidied up at the end to discolor my overall opinion of the book. There was one scene in particular when Cass thought Roxie might die that I had to reread about three times because it was so sweet. Honestly, most of the times people were upset with Cass, I totally agreed with him. He was definitely the best, most fully formed character in this novel.
#8 – Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas – ★★★★★
You can’t enjoy something if it doesn’t demand a little of your heart.
The love between Sara and Derek is so sweet. While I did have some reservations about their first night together, I have to remember this was written in the early ’90s. There were a few no’s Derek brushed off simply because Sara was ignorant — I don’t care. If someone says no because they don’t understand, explain it to them; don’t force or scare them. Aside from that leaving a slightly bitter taste in my mouth, this was a very enjoyable story. I loved the contrast of Derek’s being a bastard with everyone except Sara, Lily, and Alex. He’s a broody sweetheart. And I loved Sara from the first moment we meet her, taking notes in the rookery. She’s a bit shy, but she also knows when to speak her mind — I find that very admirable.
#9 – Dear George, Dear Mary by Mary Calvi – ★★★★★
Where there is love, there is freedom.
This novel is breathtaking. Mary Calvi uses beautiful language in her descriptions and captures the first flutters of love perfectly. In fact, it almost felt as if I were falling in love with George Washington myself. Calvi accomplishes in her novel what I think is the most important for a work of fiction based on a real person: she made him seem real. Going into this book, I viewed Washington as a historical figure, but one for whom I had a soft spot because he was a fellow Virginian. After reading Dear George, Dear Mary, I feel even more connected to him because, whether all of the emotions expressed in the novel were truly his or not, I felt with and for him through reading his words. How Calvi made a whole, gripping novel out of letters she read between Washington and Mary Eliza Philipse is inspiring, to say the least. She did an excellent job here. I was expecting something mediocre and got something great and memorable instead.
#10 – With This Pledge by Tamera Alexander – ★★★★★
His smile reached all the way inside her.
This was so beautiful — the story, the characters, the writing, the way Tamera Alexander wove these threads together. Quite a few moments in the book were some of the most touching I’ve ever read, and I was on the verge of tears more times than I could count. I know tons of research went into this novel, and it shows. Plus, to be able to craft a novel from love letters is truly spectacular. Alexander should be proud of her work; it’s truly amazing. It’s also the best piece of Christian fiction I’ve ever read. Not once did it feel preachy or forced; it felt totally natural and moving. This is my favorite book of the year so far.
#11 – Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare – ★★
You belong where you’re loved.
|It almost hurts to say this (but not enough, so here we go), but this book was so disappointing for me. Maybe that’s why I put off reading it for so long, like my subconscious knew. Overall, it seemed contrived, the romance was cringey, it was too long, the dialogue was not that good, and it lacked the splendor of Clare’s earlier books. I had to resort to listening to the audiobook at 2x speed just to get through it. I even skimmed some parts, still not missing anything because of repetitious and wordy writing. Sadly, I don’t think I’ll be continuing on with the series or any of her subsequent books.|
#12 – The Plantagenets by Dan Jones – ★★★★
Those who are afraid can stay at home.
Dan Jones writes so well. A lot of times history books can appear too daunting to read, but he makes it approachable. There’s so much information packed into this book; it’s pretty remarkable.
#13 – Lord of the Fading Lands by C.L. Wilson – ★★★★★
Ver reisa ku’chae. Kem surah, shei’tani. Your soul calls out. Mine answers, beloved.
|In a word, this was fabulous. It’s exactly what I look for in a fantasy. Once again, Wilson did not disappoint, and I’m looking forward to continuing the series.|
#14 – The Selected Poetry of Edna St. Vincent Millay – ★★★
My candle burns at both ends.
|Oh, Modernism, old friend – how I’ve missed you and your whackadoodle self. I liked quite a few of these poems, but sometimes they felt a bit sing-songy to me, which I’m not a fan of. I think Millay can come off as overly dramatic at times (well, she is a poet). I wish there were more poems in her oeuvre like “The Ballad of the Harp-Weaver.”|
The Lovely War, Julie Berry (March 5)
Meet Cute, Helene Hunting (April 9)
#FemmeFanTale (March 2 – 10)
Daughter of the Forest, Juliet Marillier
The Poppy War, R.F. Kuang
Persuasion, Jane Austen
Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen (reread, narrated by Rosamund Pike)
Complete Poems and Selected Letters of John Keats
When the Duke Was Wicked, Lorraine Heath
A Night Like This, Julia Quinn
The Lost Queen, Signe Pike
A Bound Heart, Laura Frantz
Lady Derring Takes a Lover, Julie Anne Long
Washington’s Spies, Alexander Rose
We Are Displaced, Malala Yousafzai
Women Warriors: An Unexpected History, Pamela D. Toler
The Twenty-Ninth Year, Hala Alyan
I have three more books to add to this ambitious list for Romanceopoly, and honestly, I have no idea why I think I can read all of these this month. Guess I have high, high hopes. I usually add in a lot of books I come across, though, so I doubt this is going to happen. But…”Bear up, brave heart! We will be calm and strong.”