February was a great month of reading! I read and listened to quite a few novels this month, including a few ARCs. I took a dip into Fantasy, Romance, Nonfiction, and Urban Fiction.

February in Oklahoma has been a bit gloomy with a side of ice storms so I am READY for March and the beginning of Spring.

Take a look at these mini-reviews and let me know what you think!

The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

Genre: Fantasy Fiction

Rating: 4.25 / 5

Characters: 3/5

Setting: 5/5

Plot: 5/5

Themes: 4/5

What’s interesting: In the world of Orléans, the Belles are the embodiment of beauty and are sent by the Goddess of Beauty to make the gray people of Orléans beautiful. It’s a complete reversal of the world today, where brown skin is treated with reverence and envy rather than hate and inferiority.

Mini Review: I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this novel, but once I got started, I was hooked. It was so captivating and such and intriguing concept. It exemplifies a world obsessed with beauty and mirrors the pure vanity and inauthenticity of today’s society where looks are prominent and, often, the key to apparent success and likeability. I’ll be doing a full review of this one soon!

Lest We Forget by Velma Maia Thomas

Genre: Nonfiction, History

Rating: 4/5

What’s interesting: The book was very factual including historical documents, images, and personal accounts of events that occurs during the Slave Trade as well as the progression of time up until present day. Rarely do you see so much information in one place in regard to the slave trade and its effect on the world. Here, you find much of the detail and realities that aren’t told in the history books but are pertinent to knowing our history and making sure we do not repeat the same heinous acts.

Mini Review: Lest We Forget gives a raw view of the history of enslaved Africans and the processes they endured to become slaves. This book fills in the many holes left by historians that wouldn’t allow the clear facts of the many atrocities committed to be passed down through history. This book takes you on a journey from pre-colonization to slave-trade to civil war to emancipation and to the civil rights era. These are the true accounts of the toll of 300+ years of stolen history and identity. This was a hard read, but it was also very enlightening. After reading this, I can’t help but wonder at what affluence would be flowing from Africa instead of the poverty and destruction left in the wake of slave trade and European greed. I highly recommend this read to anyone.

*This e-ARC was provided to me by NetGalley and Quarto Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

You by Caroline Kepnes

Genre: Thriller

Rating: 4/5

Characters: 4/5

Setting: 4/5

Plot: 4/5

Themes: 4/5

What’s interesting: In the case where the book is always better, this may just be an exception. While the show took some liberties, I think those liberties expanded the character and plot line a bit more. However, the book gives you an even deeper understanding of Joe’s mind and how he conceptualizes and rationalizes his actions.

Mini Review: This novel gave me absolute chills. After watching the series on Netflix, I had to see if the book was better. I listened to the audiobook and finished it within a day. It as intriguing to listen to the mind of a sociopath and understand how someone can rationalize their actions. It’s terrifying, but also interesting. Joe was charismatic and good with reading people. He had a way about him that seemed to draw people to him. He was unassuming and, seemingly, an average “Joe” (haha, see what I did there?). This was my first time reading a thriller and it definitely made me interested in exploring the genre a bit more.

Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes

Genre: Thriller

Rating: 3/5

Characters: 2/5

Setting: 4/5

Plot: 3/5

Themes: 3/5

What’s interesting: Hidden Bodies makes it clear how susceptible we are to believing lives and how even the most unassuming people can do some of the most heinous things.

Mini Review: I did not enjoy this book as much as the first one. It seemed pretty unnecessary and like it was written for the sake of having a second book. I still don’t know if Joe gets away or not. Love makes women seem stupid and willing to do anything to have a man. But this is a fair assessment of how lax law enforcement is when is comes to mediocre white men who are serial killers. Hello Ted Bundy!

A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi

Genre: YA Fiction

Rating: 4.5/5

Characters: 4/5

Setting: 4/5

Plot: 5/5

Themes: 5/5

What’s interesting: This novel tells a much-needed story from a Muslim American girl and her life post 9/11. The best thing about books is that they give us a view of other experiences, other views, and other realities outside our own. They break down assumptions and prejudices and, instead, show us how alike we all are.

Mini Review: AVLEOS was a fun read. Shirin is like any other girl her age: Talented, headstrong, full of questions, and striving to come into her own. Even when her world is flipped upside down and she becomes a target of senseless hate and prejudice, Shiri learns to stand strong and never compromise her faith. At times, I found myself angry reading through the hateful actions that Shiri endured. I thought of all the hateful things I’ve endured and that my friends of color have endured. Things the sometimes keep me awake at night and lead me to tears when they overwhelm me. However, this novel brings me hope. It’s stories like these that will help us continue to bridge the gap and show the importance of diverse voices.

My full review is here.

The One Who’s Not the One by Keris Stainton

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

Rating: 3/5

Characters: 5/5

Setting: 3/5

Plot: 2/5

Themes: 2/5

What’s interesting: The emphasis on the relationship between Cat and her best friend Kelly was the best part of this book. Reading about their friendship made me think of my best friends, how much they mean to me, and how I know they are here for me (and I for them) through anything and everything. It was nice to see a pure friendship that didn’t involve catty fights, jealousy, and vindictive plots.

Mini Review: The end of the book was pretty good, but I found the rest of it to be very slow. While I thoroughly enjoyed each character and their contributions to the story, I felt like over half of the book brought little or nothing of importance to the overall plot and there was far too little of 0.

My full review is here.

*This e-ARC was provided to me by NetGalley and Bookouture Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne

Genre: Romance

Rating: 4/5

Characters: 4/5

Setting: 4/5

Plot: 4/5

Themes: 4/5

What’s interesting: This was a romance that was a little out of the ordinary. It’s not your typical boy meets girl and they fall madly in love trope. The childhood friend romance trope was cute and fun to read. Added with the existence of a twin/best friend, it creates an adorable and complicated atypical love triangle.

Mini Review: Darcy and Tom have an intense, palpable romance. The tension between these two had me grinning and giggling and wanting more. Needless to say, I read this pretty quickly. While I loved the complicated tension surrounding their relationship, Darcy and Tom also had a toxic side to the relationship. There was a level of possessiveness that kind of gave me a bad taste in my mouth. Although, being that it was reciprocated, maybe it’s just a dynamic that works especially for them. I also really liked the fact that Darcy wasn’t just the normal “soft” and perky heroine that’s been looking for love her whole life.

My full review is here.

A Blade So Black by L.L. McKinney

Genre: YA Fiction, Fantasy, Urban Fiction

Rating: 4.5/5

Characters: 4/5

Setting: 4/5

Plot: 5/5

Themes: 5/5

What’s interesting: A Blade So Black is the combination of Alice in Wonderland and Buffy set in modern-day Atlanta. It was exciting to see a young black girl at the center of a classic story and a heroine in her own right.

Mini Review: This novel gave me all the melaninated Buffy vibes I ever wanted. It was fun to see a new spin on a classic tale mixed with a little black girl magic. As this is set to be a series, I am really excited to read the subsequent novels!

My full review is here.

That’s it for my February wrap-up!

What books did you read through February and what are you looking forward to for March?

One thought on “Wrapping up February with reviews + hopes for Spring!

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