What I Read in February
Did February fly by for anyone else, or was it just me? I finished eleven books in total (3368 pages!), but I started five others that I just couldn't bring myself to finish, and I feel like that should count for something? Including the castoffs, I read 4,213 book pages in February, and I feel really good about that!
This is the best month I've had in a long time in terms of enjoyment of books--7 of the books I read were a full five stars, and the average for all of them was 4.4 stars. Let's get to it, shall we?
Calling Dr Laura by Nicole J. Georges (Adult Graphic Memoir)
Goodreads | Amazon
Calling Dr Laura is a graphic memoir detailing Nicole's experience with her father throughout her life. From a young age she is told that he died when she was a baby, but no details other than that. Her mother is most concerned with finding a life-mate, and so Nicole experiences a revolving door of father figures during adolescence.
As someone that grew up without my biological father, and with a questionable at best/terrible at worst stand-in father figure in my adolescence, I found myself relating to Nicole throughout her journey. I loved how the imagery changed based on her age--detailed, beautiful ink drawings for her adult life, with more simplistic cartoon drawings for her childhood. This is the first "graphic memoir" I've ever read, and the format provided an excellent medium for Nicole to tell her story. 5 stars, no question.
A delightful coming-of-age-geekfest, Fangirl is the story of Cath (a socially-awkward/anxious girl obsessed with Simon Snow, boy wizard, and semi-famous fan fiction author of Carry On) as she embarks on the understandably terrifying task of living in a dorm room with a perfect stranger. Cath's identical twin, Wren, opted to live with a school-assigned roommate rather than Cath during their first year of university, leaving Cath to fend for herself. It also tells the story of her first relationship, Levi.
I read this book in four hours, sacrificing precious hours of sleep on a weeknight, which seems to be par for the course when it comes to Rainbow Rowell novels. Now, like an idiot, I read Carry On last year completely unaware that it was the very fanfic novel that Cath is writing in this book...and I absolutely adored Carry On. So reading Fangirl was like reading the behind-the-scenes of Carry On, and I can see where her experiences in the book influenced the story in Carry On. I loved this, so much, and I happily gave it 5 stars.
The Six by Mark Alpert (YA Dystopian Science Fiction)
Goodreads | Amazon
Adam Armstrong is dying of muscular dystrophy, and his father works on high-profile R&D projects for the military. Rather than losing his son, Thomas develops an artificial intelligence system that will allow him to copy Adam's (and five other subject's) consciousness into a computer chip. One of Thomas's failed experiments, codename Sigma, escapes into the Internet to take over a Russian military base with the intent of destroying human kind and making self-thinking and self-learning robots a thing.
This book had me at the tagline: "What would happen if artificial intelligence decided to attack humankind?" because I love science fiction. I've re-written the blurb above a few times, and I still don't feel that it fully conveys the story, or does it justice. This was another book that I consumed as fast as humanly possible because the story just keeps going but in a very good way. The science behind the book was incredibly well researched, making the possibility of it happening both intriguing and terrifying. Mark Alpert blends the ethics of the Pioneer Project and the creation of self-learning AI with the emotional journey of six teenagers turned into robots, with tons of action. I loved it, and I have the second in the series ready to go as well. Easy 5 stars.
Jane Steele is a retelling of the classic Bronte novel Jane Eyre. Jane is an orphan, turned out by her atrocious aunt and handed over to an abusive headmaster. When she escapes the school with her best friend Clark, the two girls fend for themselves on the streets for a few years. Whilst writing macabre last confessions of those hanged, Jane comes across an ad for a governess at the home she once lived in with her family. She sets off at once to Highgate House, and becomes entangled with Mr Charles Thornfield, the new owner, and his house full of fantastic Sikh characters that followed him to England after the Sikh Wars.
I really wish I had read the physical book rather than the audiobook, because I really feel like I missed out on some of the incredible narrative but listening while driving. Regardless, I really loved the characters in this book, and the descriptive prose was captivating. I will definitely re-read this at some point, but this time holding the actual book. 5 stars, no question.
Landline by Rainbow Rowell (YA Contemporary) (Audiobook)
Goodreads | Amazon
Landline tells the story of Georgie McCool, a television show writer, and her husband, Neal. The couple has drifted apart and their marriage is in trouble. Georgie receives an opportunity to pitch her dream show that she's been working on for 20 years--but it's right before Christmas. Neal decides to take their two daughters to Omaha for Christmas as planned, leaving Georgie to work. While they're apart Georgie stays at her childhood home, using an old landline phone to speak to Neal--but the Neal of the past, not the Neal of today.
I'm really torn about my feelings for this book. I loved Fangirl and Carry On SO MUCH that I assumed that I would love this novel as well...and it fell flat in comparison. I found Georgie to be a very selfish, frustrating character, and Neal was bland and unlikeable. I wasn't invested in their relationship, but I pushed through because it was just interesting enough. I will absolutely read more Rainbow Rowell books, but this one was a solid 3.5 stars for me.
Lair of Dreams is the second book in The Diviners series, and the sequel to my January read The Diviners. This continues the story of Evie O'Neil after she comes out to the world as a Diviner, but it's split between the viewpoints of multiple characters --Henry DuBois and Ling Chan, both Dreamwalkers; Theta Knight; Memphis Campbell; Sam Lloyd; and the no longer homeless Bill. The main storyline is that a sleeping sickness is sweeping across New York City, pulling people into a never-ending sleep that eventually kills them. This book heavily features Henry and Ling due to their ability to consciously walk through and manipulate the dream world.
I really enjoyed Lair of Dreams, and I found that the story had fewer lulls than The Diviners did, and I found the writing style much less frustrating as well. Libba Bray handled the multiple viewpoints very well, and bouncing from person to person really helped keep the action of the story flowing. I can't wait to read the third book, Before the Devil Breaks You, but it doesn't have a release date yet! 4.5 stars.
This is Lauren Graham's second book and first memoir. It details her early life, her experiences throughout Gilmore Girls, post-GG, and then how it felt for her to return to the character of Lorelai while filming the revival.
It should come as no surprise that I devoured this book in one sitting, or that I loved every second of it. I mourned the ending because I just wanted to stay in Lauren Graham's head forever! She writes exactly the way she sounds in interviews, and after reading this I'm even more convinced that there is no line where Lorelai ends and Lauren begins. 5 stars. 15 stars. All the stars.
From Goodreads: Set in a medieval fairy-tale backdrop, Princess Knight is the tale of a young princess named Sapphire who must pretend to be a male prince so she can inherit the throne. The playful cartooning style of Princess Knight is comparable to that of Disney, à la Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Considered by many as one of the first major shojo works, inspiring comics for girls such as Revolutionary Girl Utena, Cardcaptor Sakura and Sailor Moon for generations to follow. A rare shojo property from the godfather of manga, Princess Knight has been long considered one of Tezuka's most popular works worldwide.
Ok. So. I totally understand that this is a classic and that it's over 50 years old so the style and story are incredibly outdated. I went into Princess Knight knowing this, and yet...it just didn't do it for me. Maybe it was an off day, maybe I'm not the target demographic, but I just didn't enjoy this at all. I'd love to see an updated version that removes all of the rampant misogyny, and the absurd slapstick comedy. 2 stars, but only because I recognise how important this work was in influencing so many people and artists.
From Goodreads: The nightmare-inducing brute known as Mirror is destroying the lives of Gotham City residents seemingly at random. Will Barbara be able to survive her explosive confrontation with this new villain, as well as facing dark secrets from her past?
I LOVED this, but I knew I would because I have yet to have any hate for a Gail Simone-written graphic novel. This brings Batgirl back into the fold after she had been paralyzed when she was shot in the back by Joker previously. The story was gritty but logical, and I love how Batgirl grappled with all of the changes and being back in action. It's always neat seeing a superhero struggle as well, instead of just being non-stop awesome. 5 stars, and I can't wait to read Vol 2!
From Goodreads: A collection of humorous autobiographical essays by the Academy Award-nominated actress and star of Up in the Air and Pitch Perfect.
I've been hitting it out of the park with choosing memoirs this year because this is another 5 star! I love Anna Kendrick--her social media and interviews portray her at entirely down to earth, a little nerdy, and a lot awkward, which I love. After reading this I am convinced we could be best friends. Did I mention 5 stars?
The Agency #1: A Spy in the House by Y.S. Lee (YA Regency Detective)
Goodreads | Amazon
From Goodreads: Rescued from the gallows in 1850s London, young orphan (and thief) Mary Quinn is surprised to be offered a singular education, instruction in fine manners — and an unusual vocation. Miss Scrimshaw’s Academy for Girls is a cover for an all-female investigative unit called The Agency, and at seventeen, Mary is about to put her training to the test. Assuming the guise of a lady’s companion, she must infiltrate a rich merchant’s home in hopes of tracing his missing cargo ships. But the household is full of dangerous deceptions, and there is no one to trust — or is there?
This is another book that I'm really torn about. The idea of it is great--fearlessly independent women in 1800's London that are detectives? SIGN ME UP. The reality, however, was a little different. I found the MC's race revelation to be contrived and a little insulting. I understand why she was unwilling to proclaim her Chinese heritage aloud since the discrimination was intense then, but we were in her head! Why did it take ~50 pages for her to admit in her head that she is half Chinese? That unsettled me because it was just weird. Otherwise, the story was enjoyable and the plot was fun. I have the second book at home, but I haven't picked it up just yet. 3.5 stars.
What did you read this month? Let me know in the comments if you have any recommendations!