Hello lovelies! How are you? March was such a weird month for me. It started out really well, but about halfway through the month I started to feel overwhelmed by everything and… I’m still trying to catch up. I’m finally starting to get back into a rhythm with my blogging and reading though, fingers crossed it stays this way. Intellectually I know that it’s okay to take a break or to fall behind on things. I tell other people that all the time and I really mean it. But if I’m being honest, I don’t feel okay about it. Having unfinished books I haven’t picked up for days, unfinished drafts that should’ve been posted, comments that should’ve been answered, it doesn’t feel okay to me. It feels stressfull and messy and overwhelming. So basically I’m making it my April goal to get organized, so I can chill out. On the more positive side – I read 17 books this month! Cause when I’m stressed, I read. So… let’s talk about books, guys!
Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Grave Mercy’s the first book in a series about assassins who are the daughters of death. It follows Ismae, on her first mission outside of the convent where she’s been trained. I was so immersed in this from page one, I never wanted to put it down. It’s not the most original book I’ve ever read, but it’s got everything a YA fantasy novel should have and it does it all really well. The courtly intrigue, the politics, the action. I know some people think it’s too focused on the romance, but I loved every second of this compelling hate-to-love romance.
Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
The second book in the series follows Sybella, the character I found most interesting in Grave Mercy. Her story has a darker atmosphere right from the start and at times it’s darker than I expect from a YA novel. Abuse is a topics that’s explored a lot and there’s a lot of violence. Sybella’s a really interesting and complex heroine, she’s been through a lot and she has a lot of anger and shame to work through. I loved the romance in this one too. It’s a really slow burn between two flawed and scarred people, who are surprisingly gentle.
The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
I’m really sad this series is over, but I’m really happy it got such an epic conclusion. If The Bear and the Nightingale is historical fiction with a fairytale touch, The Winter of the Witch is a fairytale with a touch of history. There’s more of everything that made me fall in love with the series to begin with: more magical creatures and figures from folklore, more excellent villain content, more magical forests, more strong willed girls. And Vasya, I didn’t think I could love her more, but I do. I’m so satisfied with her journey and I’m so grateful for that.
A Spark of White Fire by Sangu Mandanna ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
This is a retelling of the Mahabharata set in space, which sounded super cool to me even though I haven’t read the Mahabharata yet (I will now, though) and this book is in fact super cool. It’s that perfect mix of sci-fi and fantasy that I’m weak for: the awe and mystery of space mixed with the magic and wonder of fantasy. There’s sentient spaceships, magical swords, meddling gods, beautiful planets, kingdoms built on top of spaceships… And a very compelling story about a girl made of broken pieces, trying to put her family back together, while they teeter on the edge of civil war.
Clueless: Senior Year by Amber Benson, Sarah Kuhn and Siobhan Keenan ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
I’m always a little nervous about graphic novels or books adapted from shows/movies – but this was pure rose tinted 90’s nostalgia and I loved it. The aesthetics are spot on. I love the bright, pastel artstyle, the amazing throwback outfits and 90’s slang. I think the creators have really captured the essence of the movie as well, the friendship, the feminism, the fun, carefree vibe. I also love that both Tai and Dionne got their own chapters, Dionne’s was my favorite.
Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
This fictional biography of a 70’s rock band is told entirely through dialogue, with snippets from interviews with the members of the band. Jenkins Reid spins a pretty classic tale of sex, drugs and rock and roll. But she does it with more nuance and attention to character development than I’ve seen in similar narratives. These people are flawed, yes, but they’re also so very human and I loved them all, even when I didn’t like them very much.
Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
The second book about Morrigan Crow, is just as charming and wonderful as the first one. It follows Morrigan and her friends as they start their magical education and mysterious things are afoot. If you’re looking for a whimsical fantasy adventure, full of magic, friendship and danger – you need this series in your life.
“If to be too much is to be a witch, then I am a witch, and we are all witches. I told this to the other girls, and I heard them all whisper back yes, because to be a witch means our too muchness serves a purpose: it gives us power.” – Toil & Trouble
Toil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women & Witchcraft by Tess Sharpe and Jessica Spotswood ⭐⭐⭐⭐
This is an anthology about women and witchcraft, and true to brand: I really enjoyed it. I love how varied the stories where in terms of themes, plot and setting. Even though they’re all about witches, it never felt repetitive. There were a couple of stories that didn’t do anything for me personally, but most of them were really good and a couple were truly wonderful. So many of them were about girls finding their voices and claiming themselves – and I love that.
Girls in the Moon by Janet McNally ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Girls in the Moon is a slice of life story, about a girl who spends a couple of days in New York visiting her sister who’s in a band and reconnecting with her dad, who’s also a musician. It’s one of those quiet, contemplative coming of age stories where not a lot happens, but you still close the book feeling like it’s been a journey. It’s beautiful.
Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Piecing Me Together is one of the most nuanced and complex explorations of class, privilege and race I’ve seen. It’s also a very compelling coming of age story about a black girl who’s navigating her fancy private school, changing friendships and family expectations. I love that the MC’s an artist and reading about the collages she makes.
Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers ⭐⭐⭐⭐
I finished two series this month, can y’all believe this? This one’s more of a companion novel to The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, set on the fleet of spaceships, where humans have lived since leaving a ruined earth. It’s a very slow and character driven story told from multiple POVs. For a book set on a spaceship, it was very atmospheric and I love reading about all the alien cultures and customs.
Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Sawkill Girls was a step out of my comfort zone, a horror book with SF elements and I mostly enjoyed it. It’s told from the POV of three girls, who are all queer (One is ace and there’s an f/f romance) and it’s the characters that made this book shine in my eyes. They were all flawed, complex people, who experienced huge character development. Even the side characters felt real to me (especially Grayson, the baking cinnamon roll). And this quote is everything: “Screw that book,” said Val. “It was written by men.” She held out her free hand to Marion. “We’re rewriting it.” I love my angry girls.
The World’s Wife by Carol Ann Duffy ⭐⭐⭐⭐
This was the second poetry collection I finished this month and by far my favorite. It’s got such an interesting concept, every poem’s told from the POV of famous historical or mythological women, or the wives of historical or mythological men. From Medusa, to Mrs Darwin. I love how darkly funny and playful this is, but also how beautiful and haunting.
““Our species doesn’t operate by reality. It operates by stories. Cities are a story. Money is a story. Space was a story, once. A king tells us a story about who we are and why we’re great, and that story is enough to make us go kill people who tell a different story. Or maybe the people kill the king because they don’t like his story and have begun to tell themselves a different one.” ” -Record of a Spaceborn Few
The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty ⭐⭐⭐
Have you ever read a book and thought “Wow, this book is really good. But I really don’t care?” That’s City of Brass for me. There’s nothing here for me to put my finger on and say I didn’t really enjoy this bit. The characters are complex and compelling, the plot’s well paced and engaging, the writing’s really good. But I never fell in love with any of it. I will say it deserves an award for having the most intricate world building and magic system that’s actually EASY TO UNDERSTAND.
I’m retrospectively side eyeing all those mediocre YA fantasy books whose changing rules have me whiplash.
Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman ⭐⭐⭐
This is kind of the same thing as with City of Brass for me. I didn’t dislike anything about this, but I wasn’t in love with any of it either. It’s a coming of age story about a half Japanese girl who lives with an abusive mom and two brothers. She’s an artist and dreams of making it into a prestigious art school. I really liked the little snippets at the end of the chapters where it says what Kiko’s drawing and the parts of the plot that focuses on her art. But I could’ve done without the generic YA romance and the female BFF vanishing after about 4 pages. I know she left for college, but still.
The Waking Forest by Alyssa Wees ⭐⭐⭐
I have mixed feelings, ok? On one hand this is one of the most unique thing I’ve read this year. It’s strange, atmospheric and dark. On the other hand, I didn’t always like it. It’s really hard to explain without spoilers, but there’s a pretty big shift in the narrative at about 60%. While I didn’t find the shift itself jarring, I found it odd that the tone didn’t change when pretty much everything else did. Like reading epic fantasy, with Ya contemporary dialogue.
““I had absolutely no interest in being somebody else’s muse.
I am not a muse.
I am the somebody.
End of fucking story.” -Daisy Jones & The Six
The Witch Doesn’t Burn in This One by Amanda Lovelace ⭐⭐
I think Instagram poetry is really cool and I’ve found some of my favorite poems on the platform, but I was really disappointed by this collection. Though I generally agree with Lovelace’s message, I found her delivery boring. These poems are simplistic, not very lyrical and so repetitive. I don’t know why this book wasn’t at least 50 pages shorter. Also when I say I generally agree with her message, it’s cause I don’t agree with burning people alive or dismembering them and reading poems about that makes me uncomfortable.
That’s not feminism, it’s murder.
How was your March?
How many books did you read? Which was your favorite?