This was a short reading month, and a busy time for me, so I didn’t get as much reading done as I would have liked. I read The Girl at Midnight by Melisa Grey and A Court of Throne and Roses, and I’lll have in depth reviews of those next week, but here’s what else I read in February.
I listened to Gabi, a Girl in Pieces Isobel Quintero in one day. At work. Mondays I do a report that takes all day but doesn’t require much concentration (I monitor high demand and purchase additional copies of items that have a high hold ratio). I was the only one in the office, and no one bothered me all day (this never happens). So I got to spend the whole day with Gabi and my spreadsheet.
Gabi recounts a year of her trials and triumphs during her senior year of high school, and it is hilarious and heart-breaking and heart-warming all at once. She is negotiating her identity and sexuality as a fat Mexican-American girl. There are a lot of issues in this book: teen pregnancy, rape, abortion, coming out, drug abuse. But it never feels inauthentic or like an after-school special. And such a great voice! Gabi is so memorable.
The narration was perfect, and really captured the intimacy of the story as well as the flair for Spanish. I bought a physical copy and read it last December, but I’m really glad I listened to the audio.
I have been looking to read more sci-fi that is really more space fantasy than true science fiction (because I’m writing one!) so I thought Red Rising by Pierce Brown would be a good one, since it has been so popular.
It sucked. I couldn’t even finish it. The voice of the protagonist, the info-dumping that tried to be world-building, the derivative premise. UGH. I haven’t been so wrong in judging whether or not I will like a book in a long time. I really wanted to like it and thought it would be a fun, escapist read, but it literally made my skin crawl. I wanted to throw this book across the room.
Up next I’m going to try The Martian, which isn’t normally a book I’d be drawn to, because it’s just one guy trying to survive and I’ve been wary of those kind of books since 7th grade when I had to read The Old Man and the Sea and The Hatchet back to back, but I’m trying to branch out and read more adult fiction and more sci-fi and some trusted librarians have said I might like it. I’m also going to try Garth Nix’s A Confusion of Princes. But if you’ve got a suggestion for a sci-fi book set in space to add to my list, let me know!
Horror, suspense, and mystery are not usually my preferred genres, but I loved I Hunt Killers and Game so I was excited to finish Barry Lyga’s trilogy with Blood of My Blood. It was so delightfully creepy, but really thought-provoking. I started the audio version, but it was too scary. I thought Charlie Thurston did a fantastic job—his Billy Dent voice was the perfect kind of creep—but I was on edge every morning as I drove to work. I devoured the rest in print.
The characters in this series are all so layered, and the suspense is mostly psychological even if there are some bloody parts. I don’t recommend this to anyone who is easily creeped out, but for someone looking for a dark thriller, there is nothing that compares.
Though I don’t by any means plan to only read one diverse book a month, and some I will write longer reviews for, I’m committing to reading and highlighting at least one diverse book a month. In February I read The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds.
It took me some time to really get into this one, because I often struggle with books about teens who lost a parent. My dad died with I was 14, and his lifelong illness defined a lot of my childhood. These books often hit too close to home, and bring up all those feelings I had, or are so different from my experience they rub me the wrong way, even though I know that everyone is entitled to their own feelings and reactions and everyone’s response to grief is unique. This is a totally personal thing (see my review of Sara Zarr’s How to Save a Life.)
But Jason Reynolds can write. Matt’s voice is spot on, honest and raw but still a bit defensive at times. He’s lost his mom, his dad isn’t handling it well, but he’s still trying the best he can. Reynolds just nails his loneliness. And I loved his relationship with Lovey, and how they met, and how there’s a bit of romance without it feeling like a typical romance. The story is much more about grief, family, and new friendships. This is a book I’m going to have to get into Mister BS’s classroom library, because I know his students will really love it and relate to it.
What did you read this month? Let me know your favorites or most disappointing reads in the comments!