Another month is over and, as usual, that means it’s time for a reading wrap-up! Let’s jump in, shall we?
February this year wasn’t a huge reading month but I finished an ARC I had, re-read a favourite, and finished a fantastic 1000 page novel that I’ve had on my TBR for like 5 years, so you’ll hear absolutely no complaints from me!
The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive 1#) – Brandon Sanderson ★★★★★
I finally did it. I read the first (giant) book in The Stormlight Archive and it was fantastic. The first few chapters were slightly disorienting but after that, I enjoyed myself so much. The world-building is vast and impressive, and I loved the way the drama and action of the story ebbed and flowed over the course of the book. The climax, in particular, was so darn good – I just couldn’t stop reading. However, my favourite part was definitely the characters – they’re so well developed and it was really interesting seeing how their paths intertwined. I’m really keen to read the next book in the series so you can bet Words of Radiance will show up in one of these wrap-ups later in the year.
One Night on the Island – Josie Silver ★★ | Review
I really enjoyed Josie Silver’s One Day in December so I’d hoped this would be a similar experience, especially considering the cute blurb, but it was not to be. The setting for the book, a beautiful and remote Irish island complete with sweet locals, was great and I liked the story’s ideas of self-love and self-partnering (despite them feeling at odds with the romance). However, for something marketed as a romance, the relationship between leads Cleo & Mac seemed underdeveloped and downplayed in favour of their individual journeys. It also felt undermined by Mack’s unresolved marriage situation. Additionally, my warmth towards the characters themselves was…rocky. In the end, not for me.
Conversations with Friends – Sally Rooney | Review ★★★★★
I love this book and it held up just as well the second time through as it did the first. I’d been planning on rereading this right before watching the adaptation (due in May) to refresh my memory but I got so excited about the prospect that I’ve done it several months early! Ah well. Worth it. Conversations won’t be everyone’s cup of tea but this is easily one of my favourite standalones.
Migrations – Charlotte McConaghy ★★★
I didn’t end up liking this as much as McConaghy’s most recent release, Once There Were Wolves, but it was a decent read. It’s slowly paced and tonally bleak due to its focus on humans’ devastating impact on the natural environment and the MC’s backstory. It’s about a woman named Franny who is desperate to find a place on a fishing vessel to follow the last migration of the Arctic Terns towards Antarctica. I know a lot of other readers have really loved Migrations and I can understand why that might be but I feel as though it took me a while to really understand Franny as a protagonist or the connection between her and her husband, something that was crucial to the emotional weight of the story. It’s very different from a lot of other books I’ve read, and I have this inexplicable feeling that I might enjoy it more in the form of the adaptation currently in the works.
March was a pretty good month for me reading-wise. I read 8 books (why are kindle books so much easier to read quickly??) and went on a brief historical-romance trip while waiting eagerly for the second season of Bridgerton to release on Netflix. However, my reading buzz came to somewhat of a screeching halt after reaching one book in particular. It won’t be hard to guess which from the star ratings.
The View was Exhausting – Mikaella Clements & Onjuli Datta ★★.5
I picked this up on a whim while at the book store one day. I had a good feeling about it and after seeing some Evelyn Hugo comparisons (the acting, fame, secret relationship vibe minus the historical setting), I was even keener. As it turned out, TVWE was okay but unmemorable. I didn’t dislike it but it didn’t inspire much of an I-need-to-keep-reading headspace. It’s about an actress called Whitman who has an on-off again fake relationship with a party boy named Leo which they utilise whenever her public persona needs a refresh. The characters were fine, although I can’t say I grew particularly attached to them and I found Whitman frustrating in the second half. The chemistry between Whitman and Leo was decent and I did want them to be happy together, but far from one of my favourite romances. Honestly, I don’t really have all that much to say about this one.
The Viscount Who Loved Me (Bridgertons 2#) – Julia Quinn ★★
I had a lacklustre reaction to the first Bridgertons book (despite loving the Netflix series) but I was determined to try this anyway. I liked it slightly more than book one and enjoyed Kate but the big problem is that Anthony’s still an ass. Might be because he says things like: “I don’t like being denied my rights” when Kate asks to hold off having sex for a week. I get it’s historical but jeez…my ovaries just shriveled. There are also a couple of story elements that feel a little silly, like why Kate & Anthony get married. Don’t get me wrong, though, there was fun stuff, too – Kate’s troublesome corgi, Newton, the Bridgertons playing aggressively competitive Pall-Mall (like croquet), and Colin being an absolute shit-stirrer. Not sure if I’ll read book 3 but one thing’s for sure, if I have to read the word “rake” again for the 1000th time, I will gouge my eyes out.
The Duchess Deal (Girl Meets Duke 1#) – Tessa Dare ★★★★
After my disappointing experience with The Viscount Who Loved Me, I thought I’d give popular romance author Tessa Dare a try and, you know what, this was really good! As far as historical romance goes, it felt more on the modern side but I liked that because it meant we avoided a lot of the toxicity you often find in the genre. The writing was really funny, even slightly satirical at times, but so easy to get sucked into. I liked the characters, especially our heroine Emma, and thought the interactions between her and male lead Ash were sweet and fun. I wasn’t swooning or shipping as hard as I have with other romance couples but it was cute, fast-paced, and humorous so I’m definitely up for more. If you like rom-coms with historical flavour, this is a good choice.
The Governess Game (Girl Meets Duke 2#) – Tessa Dare ★★★★
I’d heard that a few people were disappointed with the second entry in this series but I actually enjoyed it slightly more than the first! Shocking, I know. I liked the setup for the story, the characters (especially the child wards of our male lead, Chase, one of which kept “killing” off her doll in a new way every day), the banter and chemistry, and Tessa Dare’s once again engaging and fun writing style. Clearly, I should be reading more of her books in the future.
Dead Silence – S. A. Barnes ★★★
I’ll be honest, I wasn’t super vibing with this at the beginning. It took a little while to get into the swing of things and I wasn’t sure what to make of the characters or the split timeline. Yet, once I got toward the middle, it seemed to find its footing and I began to enjoy myself. I feel like it manages the cross-over between sci-fi, horror, mystery and slight romance fairly well. The world-building is comprehensive enough to support the story and there are a couple of good creepy moments. I thought the twist and explanation for events were pretty reasonable but the fact that a couple of things were left unexplained was annoying. I also wish there’d been more development to the side characters to increase the emotional impact of the story.
Hook, Line, and Sinker (Bellinger Sisters 2#) – Tessa Bailey ★★★★.5
I loved this. Surprisingly, even more than the first book! It’s the perfect combination of sweet and sexy. The romance was super enjoyable and the chemistry between Fox and Hannah was fantastic. I adored them together – the intimacy, the trust, the ease of their interactions! – but also I just really liked both of them as characters. The growth and development they undergo over the course of the book alongside their somewhat slowburn romance was so nice to see, especially Fox overcoming his negative perceptions of himself. Plus, the smut was pretty fire, too, just in case you were wondering. It’s probably not the best example of friends-to-lovers because the friendship isn’t exactly “solid” but I’ve never been a huge fan of that trope so no bothers here.
The Atlas Six – Olivie Blake ★★★ | Review
Finally, after what feels like forever, I read The Atlas Six. I wish I could say it was everything I was hoping for but, unfortunately, not. While I really liked the premise and found the characters interesting (despite some being underutilised), the writing style and I didn’t fully gel. I also wish that there had been slightly more structure to the magic system and the book’s plot aside from a few decent twists. Some more emotional conversations between the characters rather than the frequent, but admittedly captivating, attempts at power play would also have gone a long way. Still, I’m intrigued enough to read the sequel.
Norweigan Wood – Haruki Murakami ★
There were several points during this that I should have DNF-ed and I regret not doing so because…oh, boy. Would someone please explain how this book was so popular that Murakami fled Japan to get away from the publicity? I don’t think I’ve ever had such an emotionally negative reaction to a novel before. Anger, disgust, boredom, frustration, disbelief – I ran the gamut. I mean, good lord, the red flags! The depiction of women, slight paedophilic vibes to some descriptions (actual paedophilia in one scene), handling of mental health, asshole MC that every character feels the need tell us is such a nice guy, suicide used FOUR times and not well, the constant (& pretentious) book/music title drops…I almost want to write a review just to rant and rage. I actually thought this was going to be fantastic but, plot twist, one star it is.
It’s been a lazy start to 2022 for blogging and of the limited posts that I’ve uploaded, a chunk of them have been book reviews. Admittedly, I don’t have a problem with that because, well, book blog. I’m hoping to up my posting frequency in April (the public holidays should help) but we’ll see how that goes since there will be a few things going on in my life over the coming weeks. Here are the posts from Feb & March that aren’t already linked above, just in case you missed them:
- Page to Screen: 8 Book Adaptations I’m Looking Forward to in 2022
- First Line Fridays | 04.03.22
- Top Ten Tuesday: Books on my Autumn 2022 TBR
- Let’s Talk: 5 Bookish Things that Make Me Cringe
In life news, I’ve got a new job! I’ve been in my current position for several years now so I’m very excited (and a little nervous) about trying something new. My new role is in a different city from where I am now so over the next few weeks I’ll be getting ready to move, finding an apartment, buying furniture, and all that big stuff.
As far as non-bookish entertainment stuff goes, when it comes to TV I’ve been watching:
- Love is Blind, S2: Bit of a frustrating experience this season and the editing is wild!
- Arcane: League of Legends, S1: Why did I wait such a long time to watch this? It’s so good! The art is amazing and I really enjoyed the story. Such a bummer that season 2 will take so long to make. This is proof you can make good adaptations of video games if they’re done right.
- Bridgerton, S2: I binged this like crazy. It was very different from the book, in some great and less problematic ways, but also some…not-so-good ways. There were too many subplots, I wasn’t a fan of the love triangle, and they dragged out the will-they-won’t they a tad too long. Some more post-marriage time would have been nice. However, the chemistry between Anthony & Kate and the last few minutes of the season, *chef’s kiss*.
- Nevertheless, S1: I’ve never watched a K-drama before and my sister recommended this to deal with my boredom/post-Bridgerton depression (watching Pride & Prejudice helps, by the way). I’m not really sure what I think at this point or whether I want to continue but it’s always good to try different things.
For movies, the list is short. I went to see The Batman and loved it (despite all the people in the cinema trying to ruin it for me). So worth the wait. I’ve always wanted to see Batman actually act like his ‘World’s Greatest Detective’ moniker so this was right up my alley and I could definitely see the Seven, Zodiac, Bladerunner type influences. I also watched Deep Water on Amazon prime with Ben Affleck and Anna de Armas, and the only two things I’ll say are 1) the kid was adorable and 2) it’s 2 hours of my life I will never get back.
Gaming-wise, my The Sims 4 addiction has returned in a big way and kind of killed the progress I was making with Pokemon Legends: Arceus and Guardians of the Galaxy *sigh*.
And that’s it for February and March! I’m hoping you’ve all conveniently forgotten that I just skipped January when it comes to wrap-ups but what can I say, it wasn’t very eventful. I hope you’ve all had a great first quarter of the year and that more good things are yet to come.