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January-February Reading Wrap-up

Updated: Mar 21

JANUARY READS


1. Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan (YA Fantasy) (380 pages) (4.5⭐️)

Lei is a human (paper caste) who lives in a world ruled by demons (steel and moon caste). She is chosen to be a paper girl (a concubine to the Demon King). The beautiful writing of this novel is contrasted by the horror of the characters' circumstances. This story features strong female characters and a sapphic romance that sparks like the titular fire. See my full review for trigger warnings.

Full Review: https://www.haleysbookhaven.com/post/a-review-of-girls-of-paper-and-fire-by-natasha-ngan


2. Girls of Storm and Shadow by Natasha Ngan (YA Fantasy) (397 pages) (4⭐️)

This is the sequel to Girls of Paper and Fire and directly follows the events of the events of the previous novel. The novel introduces new characters allied with Lei and Wren and features new third person narrators. The novel expands upon the world established in the first novel and deals with the girls' trauma as they prepare for war against the Demon King. See my full review for trigger warnings.

Full Review: https://www.haleysbookhaven.com/post/a-review-of-girls-of-storm-and-shadow-by-natasha-ngan


3. What She Left Behind by Ellen Marie Wiseman (Adult Historical Fiction) (336 pages) (2.75⭐️)

Izzy is a high school student whose mother killed her father. She finds the journal of a woman from the late 1920's named Clara who was committed to a mental institution. Izzy becomes invested in Clara's story. This novel read more YA than adult yet comes with a plethora of trigger warnings (see my Goodreads review for those). I was drawn in by the plot but turned off by the lacking execution. If not for the Buzzwordathon I would have DNF'd this book.

Full Review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/4415205226


4. Girls of Fate and Fury by Natasha Ngan (YA Fantasy) (423 pages) (4.5⭐️)

This is the conclusion to the Girls of Paper and Fire trilogy and features both Lei and Wren's perspectives. The novel picks up where the second one left off and is about the war against the Demon King. It's not easy to finish a series but this one has a strong and satisfying conclusion. The tone is much more balanced than that of its predecessor and there were moments that made me quite emotional. See the full review for trigger warnings.

Full Review: https://www.haleysbookhaven.com/post/girls-of-fate-and-fury-by-natasha-ngan-book-review


5. The Temple House Vanishing by Rachel Donohue (Adult Mystery) (291 pages) (3.5⭐️)

Student Louisa and teacher Mr. Lavelle vanished from Temple House boarding school. Twenty five years later a journalist investigates what really happened. I liked the setting, tense atmosphere, and (for the most part) characterization. The journalist character, however, was a bit lacking. The ending twist was unneeded and strange. See the full review for trigger warnings.

Full Review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/4480372281


6. Much Ado About You (Adult Romance) (384 pages) (2.5⭐️)

Evie is feeling lost so she takes a working vacation to a small, seaside town in England. There she meets and falls for handsome farmer Roane. This novel is really only worth reading if you're going to view it as an escapist fantasy. The setting was charming and the characters were sweet, but it falls victim to the dreaded instalove (really, the entire relationship moves at warp speed). Also, the third act conflict was out of left field.

Full Review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/4487698374 -


7. Beasts of Prey by Ayana Gray (YA Fantasy) (474 pages) (3.75⭐️)

A warrior (Ekon) and an indentured zookeeper (Koffi) team up to take down a monster terrorizing their village in this jungle fantasy. This has perfect pacing, a magic system with plenty of potential, and characters who grew on me. This would be perfect for fans of books like Tricia Levenseller's Warrior of the Wild or Among the Beasts and Briars by Ashley Poston.

Full Review: https://www.haleysbookhaven.com/post/beasts-of-prey-by-ayana-gray-book-review


FEBRUARY READS


1. Razorblade Tears by S. A. Cosby (Adult Thriller) (319 pages) (5⭐️)

Buddy Lee and Ike's sons (who were married) were murdered. The two set out on a mission to get revenge. This book is fast paced, gritty, serrated and violent, but it is also full of heart. The two leading men have this amazing chemistry and they experience such immense growth. If you, like me, enjoy books with morally grey characters and/or books that deal with grief then check this one out. For the plethora of trigger warnings check out the full review.

Full Review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/4512352715


2. In My Dreams I Hold a Knife by Ashley WInstead (Adult Mystery) (332 pages) (4⭐️)

10 years after the unsolved murder of her friend Heather, Jessica and the other members of their friend group return for their college reunion. Once there, their dark secrets from the past are revealed. While not the most original of stories, there are plenty of twists, dark secrets, and high jinx to be enjoyed.

Full Review: https://www.haleysbookhaven.com/post/in-my-dreams-i-hold-a-knife-by-ashley-winstead-book-review


3. The Nobleman's Guide to Scandal and Shipwrecks by Mackenzi Lee (YA Historical Fiction) (571 pages) (4.5⭐️)

This is the final novel in the Montague Siblings series which follows three siblings from a wealthy English family in the 1700s. This novel follows youngest sibling Adrian who suffers from anxiety. He meets his elder siblings whose existence he never knew about while in pursuit of the truth about his mother's mysterious death. While this had my lowest rating of the series it featured my favorite sibling. The series itself is quite cohesive and great for a rainy day because you feel like you're on an adventure.

Full Review: https://www.haleysbookhaven.com/post/the-nobleman-s-guide-to-scandal-and-shipwrecks-by-mackenzi-lee-book-review


4. For Your Own Good by Samantha Downing (Adult Thriller) (373 pages) (5⭐️)

Teddy Crutcher is Teacher of the Year at the prestigious Belmont Academy. He desires for his students and coworkers to always be at their best. He's willing to go to any length to accomplish this...even murder. This novel is a wild ride in which I never knew what was going to happen next. The character work is impressive and I find Downing to be a very talented writer. If you like morally grey characters then this is a must read.

Full Review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/4549096198


5. Skin of the Sea by Natasha Bowen (YA Historical Fantasy) (303 pages) (3.75⭐️)

Set in fifteenth century Africa, Simidele is a Mami Wata (a mermaid) tasked with blessing the souls of those who die in the sea from slave ships. When she breaks the rules to save the life of a boy (Kola) she must seek forgiveness from the Supreme Creator. This was a perfect read for Black History month. You can tell Bowen is passionate about sharing her culture and its stories. This would have been a 5 star read if only it had been longer to give more time to develop the characters and make the magical aspects feel less overwhelming. Trigger warning for a suicide scene.

Full Review: https://www.haleysbookhaven.com/post/skin-of-the-sea-by-natasha-bowen-book-review


6. In Order to Live by Yeonmi Park (Nonfiction/Biography) (267 pages) (5⭐️)

Divided into three sections the book depicts Park's childhood in North Korea, her years after her escape to China, and finally her freedom in South Korea. This is, as expected, a very difficult read. If you can stomach it, though, it's also highly inspiring. Park is resilient, intelligent, and courageous. Please see the full review for a list of trigger warnings.

Full Review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/4503491357


7. The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina by Zoraida Córdova (Adult Magical Realism) (322 pages) (4⭐️)

Told through dual timelines this is the story of a magical women (the titular Orquídea) and her descendants as they are faced with the consequences of a long ago deal Orquídea made. This novel is positively saturated in strange, alluring magic. Orquídea is by far the most intriguing character as she is an enigma in both timelines. There is an excessive number of characters to keep track of but really the only you need to know are the titular woman and three of her grandchildren: Marimar, Rey, and Tatinelly.

Full Review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/4561618708


DNF(s)


1. My Heart is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones (Adult Horror) (151 pages/36% read)

This novel is about a girl (Jade) who is obsessed with slasher movies and convinced there is a real life slasher in her town. I had hesitations picking this book up because I'm not a horror fan and that's obviously who this caters to. I ultimately tried it out because it was recommended by my favorite booktuber (Booksandlala) and I thought it could give me the tense, spooky atmosphere I love in books. While I gave it my best shot, I ultimately gave up because it was, surprising, a snore fest. For more on what I didn't like about it and trigger warnings you can check out my thoughts linked below.

My Thoughts: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/4382584752


SOME STATS


TOTAL PAGES READ (JAN-FEB): 5,323 (avg. book length: 380.21 pages)

AVERAGE STAR RATING (JAN-FEB): 56.75/70⭐️ (avg. rating: 4.05⭐️)


GENRE BREAKDOWN (JAN-FEB)

ADULT: 7/14 (50%)

AGE NA: 1/14 (7.14%)

CONTEMPORARY/ROMANCE: 1/14 (7.14%)

FANTASY/MAGICAL REALISM: 6/14 (42.86%)

HISTORICAL FICTION: 2/14 (14.29%)

MYSTERY/THRILLER: 4/14 (28.57%

NONFICTION/POETRY: 1/14 (7.14%)

YA: 6/14 (42.86%)


GOAL CHECK-IN


1. Post a blog every weekend unless ill.

I posted a blog every weekend in both January and February.

2. Read at least 60 books.

I read 14 books total in the last two months. This means my goal is 23% complete.

3. Participate in Booksandlala's Buzzwordathon

The January buzzword(s) were the 5 Ws (A.K.A. who, what, when, where, and why). For this I read WHAT She Left Behind. The February buzzword(s) are pronouns (A.K.A. my, me, their, you, your, he, she, we, etc.). For this I read In MY Dreams I Hold a Knife and For YOUR Own Good.

4. Read at least 5 nonfiction or poetry books.

I read one nonfiction in the last two months: In Order to Live. This means my goal is 20% complete.

5. Read at least 1-2 adult books every month.

I read 3 adult books in January (What She Left Behind, The Temple House Vanishing, Much Ado About You) and 4 adult books in February (Razorblade Tears, In My Dreams I Hold a Knife, For Your Own Good, The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina). This means I accomplished my goal both months.

6. Reread at least 8 books in 2022

I have, so far, reread 2 books: Girls of Paper and Fire and Girls of Storm and Shadow both by Natasha Ngan. This means my goal is 20% complete.



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