I read just a ridiculous amount of books in January on a personal bet (25!), but February was a lot calmer. I ended up with 12 books read and here are some highlights.
Such A Fun Age on audiobook was… wow. Absolutely incredible read. I actually felt like it was going to turn into a horror story for the first half 😂 It’s not, but the tension is through the roof.
The way Reid presents themes of race, interracial relationships, whiteness, and class is just masterful. In particular, being inside the white woman’s head as she justifies to herself that her actions toward the Black female MC are done in love and for the best of everyone, while it’s clearly fetishization, infantilization, patronizing, and trying way, way too hard to appear “not racist”. Loved this read, and I’m looking forward to whatever Kiley Reid has next!!
I read My Life as an Ice Cream Sandwich and I gotta say… I really enjoyed it! Ebony-Grace is a 12 year old who views the world around her as painted with her imagination, fueled by her grandfather’s bedtime stories of space missions and Star Trek and aliens from distant galaxies. She is never directly stated to be autistic, but she definitely read to me as neurodivergent and I really loved seeing the world through her mind. It’s a journey of learning to accept that others may never understand her as well as a journey out of childhood and into maturity.
If I Had your Face by Frances Cha is beautiful, heartbreaking, magnificent. It follows the stories of 4 women as their lives intertwine in Seoul, Korea – navigating beauty standards, familial expectations, childhood traumas, social hierarchies, friendship, and love. None of their stories end in a perfect package wrapped in a bow, but I love how the open endings allow me to imagine how their stories will end, and how they will nurture their newfound camaraderie. An incredible debut novel that will leave me with so much to ponder.
Dread Nation by Justina Ireland was unlike anything I’ve read before, with a zombie uprising taking place in the middle of the Civil War (though I don’t tend to read much historical fantasy or zombie stories in general!). I really loved the characters, especially the way their relationships with each other developed over the course of the book. I enjoyed a morally gray hero and especially evil and hateable set of villains. I’ve somehow been suckered into another series though I’ve been trying to avoid them lately. 😂 I’ve got to finish it now, to find out if my hunch regarding HOW the zombie plague started is correct or not 👀
Note: make sure you take note of the content warnings, there’s pretty heavy racism portrayed throughout, as well as other forms of abuse, sexism, and violence.
They can’t all be 5 star reads though… I really wanted to love Book of Night by Holly Black. The cover and title really hooked me! However… I got about 5 chapters in and knew I was gonna have to DNF. I didn’t really understand the world (was it modern fantasy, an alternate universe, a fantasy world with some modern day trappings??) and also couldn’t quite grasp the shadow magic system. Beyond that, I found the MC Charlie pretty unlikeable and didn’t want to spend a whole book in her head. After deciding to DNF, I read the final 2 chapters and I’m very glad I didn’t waste time on the whole thing! It ended pretty unsatisfactorily with a setup for a sequel, even though from all I knew of the book, it seemed like a standalone. Probably won’t pick up her books again.
I read the first book in this series (Airhead) probably 15 or so years ago. I don’t think I even knew it was a series at the time, I do remember liking the book and it stuck in my head all these years later. As soon as I learned it was a series, I had to pick up the second book, Being Nikki by Meg Cabot.
Unfortunately, this one was not as enjoyable. However, I’m not sure if it’s because the writing was worse or because I’ve outgrown YA in general. I did enjoy most of the interpersonal relationships and was emotionally invested in their stories. One of my main problems was that the “Big Bad” is a nearly untouchable corporation so the stakes felt very high and way out of the league of the teenage main characters. Characters would acknowledge that the corp had eyes and ears everywhere, then proceed to have highly confidential conversations out in public. 🤦🏻♀️ I also had issues with the very problematic implications of the 17 year old MC potentially dating adult men and being highly sexualized. Overall, I did enjoy it, there were just some moments that really wrecked my suspension of disbelief.
Hideout by Louisa Luna was just… 😚*chef’s kiss* – this is the third installment of the Alice Vega saga and they are increasingly getting better. I love seeing the relationship between Vega and Cap develop throughout the books, as well as other regulars such as Cap’s daughter. This one has Vega following a cold case directly into a pocket of white supremacists. Cap struggles with watching his daughter Nell grow up, and Vega struggles with… human emotions. 😂 I adored this book and need someone to discuss it with!
Kwame Onwuachi’s memoir Notes From a Young Black Chef was wonderful. It’s a reflection on what it means to be a Black boy growing into a Black man, both in spaces he’s expected to occupy and ones where he is treated like an outsider, as less-than. It’s a story of the ups and downs of friendship, of family, of growing up and figuring out who you are and who you want to be. All throughout is food – how it shaped his life through the love others poured into it and his ever burning passion to cook better and present truly magical dishes.
I have as of now, read more books in the first 2 months of the year than I did in all of 2022. 😂 Planning to calm down throughout the year, but try to stick with 5-10 books per month, which will likely shake out to about 50% audio and 50% physical books (the numbers have held so far!).
What are you reading lately??