February Reading Wrap-Up | 2021 Edition

I might finally be back in a reading groove. So far I’ve managed to read several books each month this year. Here’s what I thought about my February reads:

The Fire Ascending by Chris d’Lacey … works I guess? This is the 7th and final book in The Last Dragon Chronicles. I royally despised book 6 and then book 7 had to work in the events of book 6 in with what was already set up in book 5 (which is the last book in the series I enjoyed). It does wrap everything up, but I’m never ever touching this series ever again.

On Earth, at the battle of Scuffenbury Hill, time has been suspended. Dragons and their natural enemies, the Ix, are trapped in a bitter conflict. But at the dawn of history, a mysterious force is rewriting the timelines, turning what was once legend into startling reality. Is David Rain strong enough to save himself and those he loves from being written into a deadly new destiny? 

David, Zanna, Lucy, Alexa, and the Pennykettle dragons return, along with new friends and enemies, to embark on their most dangerous and most magical adventure yet. Bridging the magic of the first five books with the world and characters introduced in FIRE WORLD, this action-packed final installment of the Last Dragon Chronicles will have readers racing to the last page.

– Goodreads Book Blurb

Far Sector by N.K. Jemisin and Jamal Campbell is SO MUCH FUN. It is an adult comic book series featuring a queer, Black Green Lantern who is dispatched to a metropolis/world of 3 races where an unusual murder has happened. I read issues 1-10 in February and am impatiently waiting for the rest of the series to get wrapped up this year.

N.K. Jemisin, the acclaimed, award-winning author of The Broken Earth and Inheritance science fiction trilogies, makes her comic book debut with bestselling Naomi artist Jamal Campbell as they thrust you into a stunning sci-fi murder mystery on the other side of the universe!

For the past six months, newly chosen Green Lantern Sojourner “Jo” Mullein has been protecting the City Enduring, a massive metropolis of 20 billion people. The city has maintained peace for over 500 years by stripping its citizens of their ability to feel. As a result, violent crime is virtually unheard of, and murder is nonexistent.

But that’s all about to change in this new maxiseries that gives a DC Young Animal spin to the legacy of the Green Lanterns!

– Goodreads Book Blurb

In Love and Pajamas by Catana Chetwynd is an absolutely adorable graphic novel about being yourself with your partner. I’ve been following Catana Comics for years now and I hope to be following her for many years to come.

When you’ve reached that sweatpants-wearing cozy place in your relationship, it’s all In Love & Pajamas This brand-new collection of Catana Comics presents some fan favorites and half of the book features never-before-seen comics that delight and amuse readers of all ages.  Wholesome, sweet, feel-good humor!

– Goodreads Book Blurb

Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi is a harrowing tale about a young Nigerian person who is born with a fractured sense of self thanks to being a human born with a god inside them. This book explores mental health, self identity, and gender identity. Content warning for rape – the scenes are not gratuitous and are used specifically for talking about how this affects the main character. I really enjoyed this story, though I don’t see myself constantly rereading it.

An extraordinary debut novel, Freshwater explores the surreal experience of having a fractured self. It centers around a young Nigerian woman, Ada, who develops separate selves within her as a result of being born “with one foot on the other side.” Unsettling, heartwrenching, dark, and powerful, Freshwater is a sharp evocation of a rare way of experiencing the world, one that illuminates how we all construct our identities.

Ada begins her life in the south of Nigeria as a troubled baby and a source of deep concern to her family. Her parents, Saul and Saachi, successfully prayed her into existence, but as she grows into a volatile and splintered child, it becomes clear that something went terribly awry. When Ada comes of age and moves to America for college, the group of selves within her grows in power and agency. A traumatic assault leads to a crystallization of her alternate selves: Asụghara and Saint Vincent. As Ada fades into the background of her own mind and these selves–now protective, now hedonistic–move into control, Ada’s life spirals in a dark and dangerous direction.

Narrated by the various selves within Ada and based in the author’s realities, Freshwater dazzles with ferocious energy and serpentine grace, heralding the arrival of a fierce new literary voice.

– Goodreads Book Blurb

We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter is a work classified as historical fiction based on hand-me-down stories from the author’s Jewish family that survived the Holocaust. I checked out the audiobook from my library for this one and I wish I had kept a notebook of all the content warnings, suffice it to say you’ll want to keep some hankies or a box of tissues around for when you read this one. It’s a realistic story based on people who experienced the atrocities that was the Holocaust.

It is the spring of 1939 and three generations of the Kurc family are doing their best to live normal lives, even as the shadow of war grows closer. The talk around the family Seder table is of new babies and budding romance, not of the increasing hardships threatening Jews in their hometown of Radom, Poland. But soon the horrors overtaking Europe will become inescapable and the Kurcs will be flung to the far corners of the world, each desperately trying to navigate his or her own path to safety. 

As one sibling is forced into exile, another attempts to flee the continent, while others struggle to escape certain death, either by working grueling hours on empty stomachs in the factories of the ghetto or by hiding as gentiles in plain sight. Driven by an unwavering will to survive and by the fear that they may never see one another again, the Kurcs must rely on hope, ingenuity, and inner strength to persevere. 

An extraordinary, propulsive novel, We Were the Lucky Ones demonstrates how in the face of the twentieth century’s darkest moment, the human spirit can endure and even thrive.

– Goodreads Book Blurb

The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present by David Treuer. If you’re looking for an own-voices book about Native/Indigenous American history then you need to pick this up. It is a fantastic resource of sociological insight that communicates historical accounts without being dry. Even if you don’t consider yourself a history fan, I think you might enjoy this one.

LONGLISTED FOR THE 2020 ANDREW CARNEGIE MEDAL FOR EXCELLENCE

A sweeping history—and counter-narrative—of Native American life from the Wounded Knee massacre to the present.

The received idea of Native American history—as promulgated by books like Dee Brown’s mega-bestselling 1970 Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee—has been that American Indian history essentially ended with the 1890 massacre at Wounded Knee. Not only did one hundred fifty Sioux die at the hands of the U. S. Cavalry, the sense was, but Native civilization did as well. 

Growing up Ojibwe on a reservation in Minnesota, training as an anthropologist, and researching Native life past and present for his nonfiction and novels, David Treuer has uncovered a different narrative. Because they did not disappear—and not despite but rather because of their intense struggles to preserve their language, their traditions, their families, and their very existence—the story of American Indians since the end of the nineteenth century to the present is one of unprecedented resourcefulness and reinvention. 

In The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee, Treuer melds history with reportage and memoir. Tracing the tribes’ distinctive cultures from first contact, he explores how the depredations of each era spawned new modes of survival. The devastating seizures of land gave rise to increasingly sophisticated legal and political maneuvering that put the lie to the myth that Indians don’t know or care about property. The forced assimilation of their children at government-run boarding schools incubated a unifying Native identity. Conscription in the US military and the pull of urban life brought Indians into the mainstream and modern times, even as it steered the emerging shape of self-rule and spawned a new generation of resistance. The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee is the essential, intimate story of a resilient people in a transformative era.

– Goodreads Book Blurb

The Empire of Gold by S.A. Chakraborty -what can I say? This is the third and final installment of the Daevabad Trilogy, and it was GLORIOUS. I’m definitely going to be rereading this series for years to come.

The final chapter in the Daevabad Trilogy, in which a con-woman and an idealistic djinn prince join forces to save a magical kingdom from a devastating civil war.

Daevabad has fallen.

After a brutal conquest stripped the city of its magic, Nahid leader Banu Manizheh and her resurrected commander, Dara, must try to repair their fraying alliance and stabilize a fractious, warring people.

But the bloodletting and loss of his beloved Nahri have unleashed the worst demons of Dara’s dark past. To vanquish them, he must face some ugly truths about his history and put himself at the mercy of those he once considered enemies.

Having narrowly escaped their murderous families and Daevabad’s deadly politics, Nahri and Ali, now safe in Cairo, face difficult choices of their own. While Nahri finds peace in the old rhythms and familiar comforts of her human home, she is haunted by the knowledge that the loved ones she left behind and the people who considered her a savior are at the mercy of a new tyrant. Ali, too, cannot help but look back, and is determined to return to rescue his city and the family that remains. Seeking support in his mother’s homeland, he discovers that his connection to the marid goes far deeper than expected and threatens not only his relationship with Nahri, but his very faith.

As peace grows more elusive and old players return, Nahri, Ali, and Dara come to understand that in order to remake the world, they may need to fight those they once loved . . . and take a stand for those they once hurt.

– Goodreads Book Blurb

A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking by T. Kingfisher made for a very interesting Middle Grade read. It’s about a town where wizards are disappearing and the only one left to help defend the city is a young girl whose magic only works on bread. If a somewhat living sourdough starter that can understand some speech being used in medieval combat sounds like a fun time to you, you’ll probably like this book.

Fourteen-year-old Mona isn’t like the wizards charged with defending the city. She can’t control lightning or speak to water. Her familiar is a sourdough starter and her magic only works on bread. She has a comfortable life in her aunt’s bakery making gingerbread men dance.

But Mona’s life is turned upside down when she finds a dead body on the bakery floor. An assassin is stalking the streets of Mona’s city, preying on magic folk, and it appears that Mona is his next target. And in an embattled city suddenly bereft of wizards, the assassin may be the least of Mona’s worries… 

– Goodreads Book Blurb

The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan is the first book in The Wheel of Time series. Will I finally finish them all this year? I hope so. This is the third time I’ve read this book while in the process of trying to finish the series because I usually keep getting distracted by other books even though I really enjoy this series. On my first read through of this book I found it rather boring until the end because it focuses on so much character development, but now that I’m on the third read through I’m really liking it because I’m still picking up on new details and seeing the foreshadowing I just didn’t even notice before.

The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and pass. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow.

Let the Dragon ride again on the winds of time.

The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and go, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth returns again. In the Third Age, an Age of Prophecy, the World and Time themselves hang in the balance. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow.

When The Two Rivers is attacked by Trollocs-a savage tribe of half-men, half-beasts- five villagers flee that night into a world they barely imagined, with new dangers waiting in the shadows and in the light.

– Goodreads Book Blurb

The Golden Goose by Jacob Grimm is a classic fairytale which I feel like everyone has heard at some point. I stumbled across it again one day because I had half a migraine and couldn’t see straight, but I wanted to be entertained — so I told my smart speaker to read me a story. As a child, this story was plenty entertaining, but as an adult I have some questions. Why is the whole family so cruel to the third boy? Why are none of the boys surprised by a person coming up to them asking for food? Why do they not talk more to this person? Is this goose quite literally made of gold? Why did the boy have to pluck a feather- shouldn’t the goose have naturally shed one by now? Why is the boy not frightened that he starts a conga line of people hanging on to his goose? Is he stuck to his goose? Who controls the sticking, the boy or the goose? And perhaps most importantly: HOW DID THEY FIND A CONTENT GOOSE THAT DOESN’T WANT TO BEAT UP EVERY HUMAN THAT COMES NEAR IT? Seriously though, I’ve spent a fair amount of time on a farm that kept several types of birds including geese, and I’ve never met one that will let you snuggle it in your sleep.

It’s a day like any other when young Hans enters the forest to chop wood for his father. Then he discovers the Golden Goose. 

With gentle humor [this story] brings children a delightful traditional tale with a favorite folkloric theme–the success of someone who’s kind and good.

– Goodreads Book Blurb

Across the Green Grass Fields by Seanan McGuire is the 6th book in The Wayward Children series. This one could be read as a standalone novella about an intersex girl who is whisked off to a land of sentient centaurs and unicorns. If you’ve ever struggled with being bullied for not fitting in, you may resonate with this book. Do I see myself rereading this book often? Probably not, but I am very glad I read it.

A young girl discovers a portal to a land filled with centaurs and unicorns in Seanan McGuire’s Across the Green Grass Fields, a standalone tale in the Hugo and Nebula Award-wining Wayward Children series.

“Welcome to the Hooflands. We’re happy to have you, even if you being here means something’s coming.”

Regan loves, and is loved, though her school-friend situation has become complicated, of late.

When she suddenly finds herself thrust through a doorway that asks her to “Be Sure” before swallowing her whole, Regan must learn to live in a world filled with centaurs, kelpies, and other magical equines―a world that expects its human visitors to step up and be heroes.

But after embracing her time with the herd, Regan discovers that not all forms of heroism are equal, and not all quests are as they seem…

– Goodreads Book Blurb

The Great Hunt by Robert Jordan is the second book in The Wheel of Time – I’m very much enjoying my reread of it.

The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and pass. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow.

Let the Dragon ride again on the winds of time.

– Goodreads Book Blurb

Oh look, it’s the third book in The Wheel of Time: The Dragon Reborn by Robert Jordan, and I’m still enjoying my reread of this series.

The Dragon Reborn—the leader long prophesied who will save the world, but in the saving destroy it; the savior who will run mad and kill all those dearest to him—is on the run from his destiny.

Able to touch the One Power, but unable to control it, and with no one to teach him how—for no man has done it in three thousand years—Rand al’Thor knows only that he must face the Dark One. But how?

Winter has stopped the war—almost—yet men are dying, calling out for the Dragon. But where is he?

Perrin Aybara is in pursuit with Moiraine Sedai, her Warder Lan, and Loial the Ogier. Bedeviled by dreams, Perrin is grappling with another deadly problem—how is he to escape the loss of his own humanity?

Egwene, Elayne and Nynaeve are approaching Tar Valon, where Mat will be healed—if he lives until they arrive. But who will tell the Amyrlin their news—that the Black Ajah, long thought only a hideous rumor, is all too real? They cannot know that in Tar Valon far worse awaits…

Ahead, for all of them, in the Heart of the Stone, lies the next great test of the Dragon reborn….

– Goodreads Book Blurb

The House with Chicken Legs by Sophie Anderson is an absolutely wonderful book that I decided to make a dedicated review of. You should totally go watch it. 💜

All 12-year-old Marinka wants is a friend. A real friend. Not like her house with chicken legs. Sure, the house can play games like tag and hide-and-seek, but Marinka longs for a human companion. Someone she can talk to and share secrets with. 

But that’s tough when your grandmother is a Yaga, a guardian who guides the dead into the afterlife. It’s even harder when you live in a house that wanders all over the world . . . carrying you with it. Even worse, Marinka is being trained to be a Yaga. That means no school, no parties–and no playmates that stick around for more than a day. 

So when Marinka stumbles across the chance to make a real friend, she breaks all the rules . . . with devastating consequences. Her beloved grandmother mysteriously disappears, and it’s up to Marinka to find her–even if it means making a dangerous journey to the afterlife. 

With a mix of whimsy, humor, and adventure, this debut novel will wrap itself around your heart and never let go.

– Goodreads Book Blurb

The Witch Boy by Molly Ostertag is the first in this graphic novel series known by the same name. This book has queer and BIPOC representation and focuses on why having arbitrary rules about what only men and only women can do may lead to disastrous results. 100/10 would recommend and I totally see myself rereading this frequently as a quick pick-me-up kind of read.

In thirteen-year-old Aster’s family, all the girls are raised to be witches, while boys grow up to be shapeshifters. Anyone who dares cross those lines is exiled. Unfortunately for Aster, he still hasn’t shifted . . . and he’s still fascinated by witchery, no matter how forbidden it might be.

When a mysterious danger threatens the other boys, Aster knows he can help — as a witch. It will take the encouragement of a new friend, the non-magical and non-conforming Charlie, to convince Aster to try practicing his skills. And it will require even more courage to save his family . . . and be truly himself.

– Goodreads Book Blurb

Maya and the Rising Dark by Rena Barron. A godling girl going on an adventure with her friends to save her dad from a dark dimension – SIGN ME UP. This was a fun middle grade read.

Twelve-year-old Maya’s search for her missing father puts her at the center of a battle between our world, the Orishas, and the mysterious and sinister Dark world.

Twelve-year-old Maya is the only one in her South Side Chicago neighborhood who witnesses weird occurrences like werehyenas stalking the streets at night and a scary man made of shadows plaguing her dreams. Her friends try to find an explanation—perhaps a ghost uprising or a lunchroom experiment gone awry. But to Maya, it sounds like something from one of Papa’s stories or her favorite comics.

When Papa goes missing, Maya is thrust into a world both strange and familiar as she uncovers the truth. Her father is the guardian of the veil between our world and the Dark—where an army led by the Lord of Shadows, the man from Maya’s nightmares, awaits. Maya herself is a godling, half orisha and half human, and her neighborhood is a safe haven. But now that the veil is failing, the Lord of Shadows is determined to destroy the human world and it’s up to Maya to stop him. She just hopes she can do it in time to attend Comic-Con before summer’s over.

– Goodreads Book Blurb

Lumberjanes, Vol. 12 by Shannon Watters was another middle grade read. I’m enjoying their adventures as a whole, but I wasn’t super into the story arc in this issue. That being said, I’m not mad I read it, and I’d probably read it again at some point when I reread the Lumberjanes series.

When Counselor Jen takes the Roanoke scouts on a mission to find a Jackalope, they end up stumbling on a young cowgirl who’s been living in the woods surrounding camp with her herd of unusual critters!

In the aftermath of the time shenanigans set off by Jo’s Mysterious Time Thingy, the Roanoke scouts are a little bit uneasy on their feet. It’s up to Jen to cheer them up and help them get back up and off adventuring again, with a quest to seek out the most mysterious mythological monster of all…the mighty JACKALOPE! This New York Times bestseller and multiple Eisner Award and GLAAD Award-winning series features danger, adventure, and life-long friendships. Get in on the fun with this brand-new adventure written by Shannon Watters and Kat Leyh (Super Cakes) and illustrated by Ayme Sotuyo.

– Goodreads Book Blurb

City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab is the first book in the Cassidy Blake middle grade trilogy. Think “Ghost Whisperer” with a twist but for children, and that’s basically what this series is. I re-read the previous books in the series in anticipation of the third book launching in March. Personally, I think the series gets a bit better with every book, so this one isn’t my favorite — but it’s also a very quick read.

Cassidy Blake’s parents are The Inspecters, a (somewhat inept) ghost-hunting team. But Cass herself can REALLY see ghosts. In fact, her best friend, Jacob, just happens to be one.

When The Inspecters head to ultra-haunted Edinburgh, Scotland, for their new TV show, Cass—and Jacob—come along. In Scotland, Cass is surrounded by ghosts, not all of them friendly. Then she meets Lara, a girl who can also see the dead. But Lara tells Cassidy that as an In-betweener, their job is to send ghosts permanently beyond the Veil. Cass isn’t sure about her new mission, but she does know the sinister Red Raven haunting the city doesn’t belong in her world. Cassidy’s powers will draw her into an epic fight that stretches through the worlds of the living and the dead, in order to save herself. 

– Goodreads Book Blurb

Tunnel of Bones by Victoria Schwab is the second book in the Cassidy Blake trilogy. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Trouble is haunting Cassidy Blake . . . even more than usual.

She (plus her ghost best friend, Jacob, of course) are in Paris, where Cass’s parents are filming their TV show about the world’s most haunted cities. Sure, it’s fun eating croissants and seeing the Eiffel Tower, but there’s true ghostly danger lurking beneath Paris, in the creepy underground Catacombs.

When Cass accidentally awakens a frighteningly strong spirit, she must rely on her still-growing skills as a ghosthunter — and turn to friends both old and new to help her unravel a mystery. But time is running out, and the spirit is only growing stronger.

And if Cass fails, the force she’s unleashed could haunt the city forever.

– Goodreads Book Blurb

Princess Princess Ever After by Katie O’Neill — two princesses getting married and showing people gender roles are dumb? YES, PLEASE! This is an absolutely adorable graphic novel for all ages.

“I am no prince!”

When the heroic princess Amira rescues the kind-hearted princess Sadie from her tower prison, neither expects to find a true friend in the bargain. Yet as they adventure across the kingdom, they discover that they bring out the very best in the other person. They’ll need to join forces and use all the know-how, kindness, and bravery they have in order to defeat their greatest foe yet: a jealous sorceress, who wants to get rid of Sadie once and for all.

Join Sadie and Amira, two very different princesses with very different strengths, on their journey to figure out what happily ever after really means — and how they can find it with each other.

– Goodreads Book Blurb

Aquicorn Cove by Katie O’Neill is another beautiful work of art for all ages. This book features some grieving for the loss of a loved one along with caring for the people and things around you — especially the health of the ocean. Also, did I mention there’s a sapphic relationship? We love a queer queen.

When Lana and her father return to their seaside hometown to help clear the debris of a storm, the last thing she expects is to discover a colony of Aquicorns—magical seahorse-like residents of the coral reef. As she explores the damaged town and the fabled undersea palace, Lana learns that while she cannot always count on adults to be the guardians she needs, she herself is capable of finding the strength to protect both the ocean, and her own happiness. 

– Goodreads Book Blurb

Manga Classics: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë, adaptation by Crystal S. Chan. I already talked about it in this post if you haven’t already seen it.

Have you read any of the books on this list, or do you plan to pick up any of them now?

Published by Victoria Mendes

I'm just a house-wife trying to cook good meals on a budget.

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