Despite February being known as the month of love, there was nothing loving about my reads.
The Month of February sucked as far as my reading went. I had several other projects such as dressmaking and a paper-cutting course that took precedent. But at the same time, I had several disappointing reads in a row which left me in a reading slump and I retreated to reading Harry Potter fanfiction.
Some of the stories I read on AO3 were amazing. Far better than the books I had forced myself to read for Feb and so, unlike my usual double figures, I only managed 8 books during February.
The False Villain by Kris Renee
Given: 3 Stars
How: Ebook via Booksirens
What: Fairytale retelling of Beauty and the Beast. A cursed hero and a chance to change his past.
I genuinely had so few memories of this book I had to go back and start re-reading in order to recall it to mind. It was a beauty and the beast sort of retelling with a jerk cursed and a strong heroine who took no prisoners.
I think what I remember the most was the amazing side-kick Bertram. He was witty and cocky and hilarious. His reaction to his friend falling for the girl made me giggle out loud.
Other than that, it was pretty standard enemies to lovers and was great for passing a few hours.
Strange things people say to Librarians by Captain Flashheart
Given: 3 Stars
How: Physical Copy
What: A variety of strange requests and comments told to a librarian.
As a librarian myself, I have a list of wonderfully bizarre things that people ask. Things such as “Do you have any photographs of Jesus,”, “Has Jane Eyre written anything recently?” and “Is the Bible a real book?”
Reading Captain Flashheart’s book was fun because I could imagine every instance. Sadly the book was quite short and I feel that if he’d have put out feelers for other things heard in libraries it could have been ten times longer.
Love and Vendetta by Viola Tempest
Given: 1 DNF
How: Booksirens ebook
What: A love triangle uncovered results in a cursed child. Set in 1950’s Romania with Vampires.
I received a free copy from Booksirens and initially I requested it because of the cover and synopsis. It sounded like a Vampire diaries historical romance and I was there for it.
Two chapters in and I was OUT.
I normally try to get to at least 50% of a DNF to give it an absolute best shot but I just couldn’t with this one.
For a book set in 1950s Romania, there were far too many modern Americanisms in it. Words like “mom”, “kids”, “weird”, “tattle” etc, really made you question how much research was done into the speech patterns of the time. There were also grammatical and punctuation errors.
Then there is the relationship with Blackwell. When he meets Marietta, he grabs her hands, and her backside and then squeezes her neck before walking away. A few sentences later Marietta is crying that he’s going to lock her up – nothing like that was ever mentioned between them. The sudden insta-love between Marietta and Lord Cross was the final straw for me. It didn’t seem believable and when he said “Don’t sweat it,” and she replied moments later with “Let’s get out of this shit town,” There was no way I could carry on reading.
Make your own Cupcake Toppers by Darren Allford
Given: 4 Stars
How: Netgalley Ebook
What: A non-fiction, how to make cake toppers.
As someone who makes cakes and enjoys crafting, I really liked the cute characters that were detailed throughout. They were simple enough to be copyable and yet detailed enough to look good. I also liked that the book gave you the option of either having them be made out of fondant or polymer clay and instructed you on temperatures and storage.
HIVE by Mickey Hadick
Given: 2 DNF
How: Netgalley ebook
What: Dystopian society. Opt-in and get rewards but suffer the 24-hour surveillance and the government telling you how to live your life. Opt-out and you below in the dregs of society. But when a privileged girl wants to give it all up for love, she and her boyfriend must flee the Corporation and find a new life with the Collective- a rebel group determined to end the Corporation.
Another DNF I got from Netgalley. I was, again, sucked in by the Dystopian promise which failed to deliver.
It wasn’t terrible but it really failed to hold my interest in any way.
The plot set out was interesting and the world-building could have been so good. The idea of opting in to the governmental system and the way of life sounded fascinating.
The dialogue was so stilted it felt like I was reading a book written by a bot. I wondered if the book was translated or written in someone’s second language as it was all so formal- even when using slang.
The characters of Leah and Abel fell very flat. I didn’t believe there was any affection between them at all and I couldn’t tell you much about their personalities as they felt very one dimensional.
There was a lot of information dumping within the dialogue and the prose, rather than letting the information flow organically.
I found the reactions of the characters off as well. The sudden ‘bombshell’ of Abel’s sister’s origin was barely a line and garnered no reaction, despite it supposedly being big news. Leah’s mother and sister were just bizarre in their behaviour and descriptions of Abel’s parents felt forced “They went into the room and then out again and then several moments later they went in again and out again”
Like I said there were good aspects to the book, but it felt like I was reading about robots pretending to be human
Skin of the Sea by Natasha Bowen
Given: 5 Stars
What: A little mermaid retelling with magic, slavers and rich African culture.
As I was working on a dress, I had this book on Audible. This was a conscious decision because, after flicking through it, I knew that I would never be able to do justice to the language and the names.
I had hoped that by listening to it with a narrator who spoke the language I could hear and understand it the way that the writer originally intended.
I feel like this made the story come alive for me in ways that it just wouldn’t if I were reading it alone.
Simidele is a Mami Wata, tasked with helping those souls who are thrown from the slaver’s ships to eternal rest and blessing. This is her purpose. But one day a man is thrown into the deep still alive and Simi saves him, unknowingly starting a chain reaction of death, destruction and desire. In an attempt to find redemption, will she find who she really is?
This is the Little Mermaid but not as you know it. Tied with fantastic world-building, historical research and rich African culture, I can only say that this is a book that should be read in school- replacing Mice and Men and other classics. I knew of the practice of braiding maps into the hair but nothing about the use of concentric circles to navigate. Fascinating and illuminating.
If you are white I would suggest listening to the audio as the rich smooth voice of Yetide Badaki helps the story to flow beautifully and pronounces the names and prayers fluently and correctly.
Ms Bowen also has a bibliography of other books to read on the subject matter which I’m hoping will teach me more about this historical period.
I also appreciated that there was a trigger warning at the start for a lot of the content may have been upsetting for some.
Lionheart Girl by Yaba Badoe
Given: 3 stars
What: Sheba is scared of her mother. As one of the royalty of their little village, hidden away from the rest of the world, she lives with her Aunts and Grandmother- wise women who rule unchallenged. But when Ma comes with her sharp tongue and even sharper talons, it is up to Sheba to try to find the bravery within.
Honestly, this was a struggle to read and even though I bought it on Audible so I could finish it, I had to push myself.
The language was beautiful and I enjoyed learning about the cultural aspects of life but the plot just didn’t grip me at all.
Sheba’s mother was more spiteful and whiny than a genuine threat. The ‘wise women’ of the village weren’t proactive or leader-like in any way and I had no idea why they let the men stay when they were so flighty and aggressive- especially since that is why the women fled to the village in the first place.
I couldn’t work out how old Sheba was supposed to be. Her relationship with Maybe made her feel in her mid to late teens but her actions and voice put her at 11 or 12.
The constant flashbacks, dream-speak and spirit walking left me confused as to what was happening when and the ending was somewhat anticlimactic.
It is such a shame because, coming on the heels of Skin of the Sea, I was looking forward to another encompassing adventure.
Alien Shakespeare by William Nufer
Given: 2 DNF
What: A futuristic space opera where the treasure lies hidden within the long lost vault in a theme park.
And this is the one that broke me.
Again, enticed by the cover and the promise of treasure hunting in a dilapidated theme park, I requested it from Booksirens.
It was… difficult.
I read the first chapter and then put it aside. Three days later I re-read the first chapter, managed the second and third and then stabbed myself with a sewing needle and assumed it was fates way of telling me to give in.
I like Disney, especially Disney Villains. I worked for the Disney Store for five years and nearly lost my mind over Christmas with the stress of it all and I have been to Disneyland Paris but only once (My amazing honeymoon).
But do I know the minutia of Disneyland lore and get goosebumps when someone mentions hidden Mickey’s and maps?
This felt like it was a homage to those who live and breathe Disney and I realised that there were a few “nods” within the first few chapters that would probably make sense to someone more involved.
There were a lot of characters introduced fairly quickly and I just didn’t care about any of them.
Maybe I was already starting the reading slump and this was just a casualty but I honestly cannot remember a single character name or plot point that enticed me to keep reading.
If you are really into Disney then you would love this but for me, it was just dull.
So there you have it. Feb’s reading. Here’s hoping that March is much better.