What I Read in February 2023

Happy Saturday, everyone!

You know how February is supposed to be the shortest month of the year? Well, I didn’t really notice any of that because mine was both insanely eventful and filled with books that I mysteriously managed to squeeze in somehow. Like, seriously, when I sat down to write this wrap-up, I almost double-checked whether I had gotten my dates mixed up and skipped a month because so much has happened during these past few weeks!

I managed to survive report card day without any complaints from students or parents. I finished my first full year of teaching without going insane in the process. (I think.) My best friend came to visit and brought a severely deprived me Faschingskrapfen – a staple German food during carnival season – from back home because apparently, the people here think they should be filled with APRICOT instead of rosehip jam???!! 😳 I went home to see my parents and siblings for carnival and then came back to one of the most stressful and turbulent weeks of school I have ever experienced.

(Yes, I realize I am being vague, but I don’t particularly want to give the internet any googleable clues as to where exactly I live, alright? For all I know, some of you could be undercover serial killers! πŸ•΅οΈβ€β™€οΈ )

Some February highlights, featuring: Snow on a snow hike I took with my best friend, snow on a snow hike I took by myself, and snow on a snow hike/sledding trip I took with my students on our Winter Sports Day in order to get out of chaperoning skiing, which – much to my indigenous colleagues’ horror – I have not done since seventh grade. And, yes, I realize that’s a lot of snow, but I kind of forgot to take any other pictures last month… πŸ™ƒπŸ”οΈ

Also, I finally got around to things I’ve been procrastinating for ages. Such as getting a haircut. Or buying new jeans. Or finally making a decision on whether I would go back to university after completing my teacher training a year from now.

(And yes, nosy people out there, maybe you shouldn’t be so sure about my sanity after all because I did, in fact, promise to spend at least three more years of my life getting a PhD in mathematics that I will probably have absolutely no use for…)

However, in spite of a jam-packed February, I did actually manage to read a lot! Just not necessarily a lot of, well, good books… πŸ˜… I mean, sure, maybe it’s me. Maybe I was in an overly critical mood this past month. But that doesn’t change the fact that I was severely let down by several of my February reads and even outright hated some of them. To give you an idea: My average rating for 2023 currently sits at 2.92 stars. 2.92 stars!!!! I don’t think I’ve EVER had an average rating that horrible, so yeah – be prepared for quite a bit of ranting…

The Burning God (The Poppy War #3) by Rebecca F. Kuang (2/5 Stars)

Oh boy. I already know I’m gonna get a ton of hatred for this… Seriously, though, this book was a mess!! Like, after the amazingness that was The Poppy War, I already thought The Dragon Republic was a bit of a disappointment, but that pales in comparison to my thoughts on The Burning God. This was the big showdown?? Really???

The finale to a Chinese-history-inspired fantasy trilogy, The Burning God concludes Fang Runin’s journey on her quest for power and her country’s freedom. Betrayed by her closest allies, badly wounded, and juggling the power of a god, Rin sets out to build a fighting force and gain back what she believes should rightfully belong to her people.

Considering it is a book about life and death, oppression, and power, The Burning God manages to be astoundingly boring. In a very dry, militaristic writing style, it describes countless battles that had pretty much no stakes whatsoever. Like, if your protagonist and her friends have the godly power to single-handedly wipe out entire armies, how is there going to be suspense? How will I ever be taken by surprise?

In fact, the only things that did take me by surprise did so in a very unfavorable manner. After all the build-up we’d been getting, I fully expected a large part of the plot to focus on Rin and her allies standing up against the Trifecta and the Hesperians, but those strands were resolved in some of the most eye-roll inducing, anticlimactic deus-ex-machina moments I have ever encountered. There was next to no in-depth exploration, most of the content in this story felt like filler, and, frankly, Rin’s character development was all over the place, too. It felt like R.F. Kuang couldn’t decide whether she should go for true despicableness or a redemption arc, so she went for some weird, in-between thing that made Rin feel like a flimsy caricature rather than a real person.

Overall, I was not a fan and am probably giving those two stars solely for Kitay. His interactions with Rin were the most complex and real moments this book had to offer; apart from him, The Burning God read like the author had simply tried to fill the book with 600 pages of SOMETHING before she finally got to the ending she had in mind. I AM SO DISAPPOINTED!!! 😭😭😭

As Good As Dead (A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder #3) by Holly Jackson (2.5/5 Stars)

From one finale that Naemi was incredibly disappointed by, let’s move on to the next one! πŸ˜ƒ

(Are you beginning to see the pattern here?)

The conclusion to Holly Jackson’s A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder series, As Good As Dead takes, if possible, an even darker turn than the first two installments. About to head to college, Pip is still haunted by how her previous investigations ended. And, as though that weren’t enough, she’s been getting increasingly creepy anonymous messages. Anonymous messages similar to the ones a local serial killer sent his victims before he was put behind bars six years ago…

When I started reading this, I was a bit puzzled as to why this book had been getting so many mixed reviews. It was epic! The writing was great, I loved the raw and nuanced portrayal of PTSD, and the mystery, which had a ton of intriguing ties to the first two books, made As Good As Dead so suspenseful that I simply could not put it down. I was at an absolute loss to see how anyone could not like this and all set for this series to cement its spot as one of my all-time favorites.

Then, however, I hit the halfway mark. And let’s just say: I get it now. I get why everyone is so upset. BECAUSE I ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY HATED THE PLOT TWIST!!!

I mean, not that I don’t get what Holly Jackson was trying to do. Part of me was very intrigued by this particular turn of events. But just not with these characters!! While I could possibly suspend my disbelief long enough to buy that normally very clever Pip would have such stupid reasoning, I absolutely do not buy her being able to drag other characters into it. Especially Ravi. This book did Ravi such an injustice by making him a personalityless, I’ll-not-use-my-brain-at-all-and-support-you-no-matter-what boyfriend, and I AM SO MAD!!! THIS BOOK RUINED RAVI!!!

To say I am severely disappointed is a massive understatement.

This is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp (2.5/5 Stars)

Told from the perspectives of four teenagers, This Is Where It End is about a school shooting. It’s about 54 minutes of utter terror as the students of an Alabamian high school watch one of their own turn on them. It’s about children having to come to terms with their greatest fears and hopes, not knowing if they’ll survive to see another day.

I mean… at least I didn’t really go into this one with expectations? πŸ˜… Maybe that somewhat lessens the blow of my disappointment?

Because, if you ask me, “good idea; mediocre-to-not-so-good execution” unfortunately describes this particular YA contemporary novel to a T. I found it to be incredibly unrealistic, with some of the flattest, black and white characters I have ever come across.

Just to give you a few examples:

  1. When they learn that their classmates are dying, two students who weren’t directly on scene decide to go to where the shooting is happening in order to help. Without the shooter noticing, they manage to break into a locked room, tell people that the doors are open now, and sneak out again. Which gives one of them the opportunity to finally ask the hot, popular girl who has never noticed him before on a date.
  2. ALL teachers heroically shield their students from being shot and die trying to protect them. Like, I’m pretty sure if my students were under attack, I’d be frozen in terror and wetting my pants at the mere thought of trying to go up to the gunman… But sure. Maybe American teachers are just better people than I am.
  3. Several students stay behind to help their wounded classmates when they could have gotten away. Again, maybe I’m just a terrible person, but would you really be willing to die for someone who is beyond saving anyway? Just to make their last moments less scary? Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought there was such a thing as survival instinct!
  4. The gunman is basically the definition of pure evil: After his mother’s death, he goes totally berserk, cuts himself off from everybody, starts raping people, and then, several months later, shooting them. Beyond the sob story about his mother’s death, we learn next to nothing about his motivations and not even his sister seems particularly affected by the fact that her brother is the one shooting up her school.

In summary: The gunman is a personality-less monster, and everybody else seems to be more preoccupied with heroism than the fact that they might die.

That being said, I did think the book was suspenseful. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it, but I was engaged while reading it. Apart from all the times I stared at the pages in utter disbelief, it wasn’t too bad! We’re making progress! πŸ˜…

Dial A for Aunties (Aunties #1) by Jesse Q. Sutanto (3.5/5 Stars)

(I listened to this on audiobook; the narrator was Risa Mei.)

Finally! A book I actually enjoyed! πŸ€—

An absurd mixture of comedy, romance, and crime fiction, Dial A for Aunties follows Meddelin Chan, a young Chinese-Indonesian-American woman who works as a photographer for her family’s wedding business. Unable to get out of a blind-date her meddlesome mother got her into, Meddy accidentally ends up killing him – right before one of the most prestigious jobs her family has ever landed is set to start. Thankfully, though, Meddy’s family is very supportive. And thus, she, her mother, and her three very opinionated aunts attend and island resort billionaire wedding with a corpse in tow.

Dial A for Aunties is thoroughly unrealistic. The characters are moronically obtuse. If you accused the love interest of being annoyingly perfect, you wouldn’t be entirely wrong. And, in spite of it being written by an own-voices author, it does play into a lot of Asian-American stereotypes.

But I had an absolute blast listening to it! Once you accept that Dial A for Aunties is ridiculous and just go along with it, you’re going to have a great time, I promise. It’s entertaining, it’s fun, it’s weirdly relaxing, and it has tons of immature macabre humor. In other words: Right up my alley!

With Fate Conspire (The Onyx Court #4) by Marie Brennan (3/5 Stars)

The conclusion to Marie Brennan’s Onyx Court quartet, a multi-century-spanning historical fantasy series that follows a secret world of faeries living beneath the streets of London, With Fate Conspire is set during Victorian times, at the brink of the industrial revolution. Above ground, a young Irish woman named Eliza is trying to track down her childhood sweetheart, who she is convinced was kidnapped by faeries. Meanwhile, in the less reputable parts of the underground world, a faerie named Dead Rick is trying to unlock some secrets from his past.

Overall, I felt like this was a decent conclusion to the series. It may not have knocked me off my socks, but compared to all of the other series finales I read in February, it was a definite improvement! I liked the characters – Eliza’s storyline in particular had me very invested, and I truly felt for Dead Rick and everything he had gone through – and the setting also felt very real, fleshed out, and historically accurate.

That being said, I also felt like I was missing something. At times, I was bored because the plot didn’t move forward much and I felt like I was reading the same kinds of passages over and over again. It generally seemed like not a lot was going on; it was all just build-up to an ending that was infodumped onto the reader with the air of being this huge reveal that we should have been able to guess all along. In all fairness, my ineptitude to do so might also be due to me having forgotten a ton, but I feel more inclined to believe that all the pseudoscience in this book didn’t actually make as much sense as it was pretending to…

So yeah, final verdict? Apart from its atrociously boring novella that is Deeds of Men, this series is worth checking out, but, unfortunately, none of the later books live up to the excellence of the first one.

Uglies (Uglies #1) by Scott Westerfeld (2.5/5 Stars)

Aaaand we’re back in 2.5-star territory πŸ˜… Can someone please explain why I’m suddenly so horrible at picking out books that I like??

The start to a YA dystopian series that pretty much everyone but me seems to have read already, Uglies takes place in a world where strife has been eradicated. Thanks to an operation that makes everyone beautiful when they reach the age of sixteen, Tally’s world is perfect. There’s no need for arguments because, after becoming a Pretty, everyone is equally stunning and kind. Tally’s new friend Shay, however, isn’t sure whether she wants to be a Pretty. And when Shay runs away, she puts Tally into a position that opens her eyes to parts of the world she’s never seen before.

Honestly? At age sixteen, at the height of my dystopian phase, I might’ve liked this, and I still think it has a very cool premise and intriguing world-building. It’s just – this is so very early 2000s YA… πŸ™ˆ Everything about the book is cringily predictable, and I felt like I’d read the same thing hundreds of times before.

Although I’ve gotta say: Maybe I’m misremembering just how clichΓ©d books like Matched or The Testing or Slated or Divergent were back in the day, but Uglies is cringy even for the early 2000s YA dystopian phase. You’re telling me the Pretties have brain lesions when ALL of the characters in this book question nothing until it is almost spelled out for them? Between rebel groups not screening new members when it is essential for them to remain undetected, nobody questioning the Pretties’ obviously odd behavior, and Tally being able to escape whenever she’s in a tough spot, the plot conveniences in this book are off the charts. And the instalove!!! I don’t know what was more awkwardly written, that or the friendship that sprang out of nowhere and the instalove ended up destroying.

Plus, considering the fact that this is a dystopian book, I feel like Uglies missed a whole bunch of opportunities to explore intriguing moral questions. Is it terrible to give people brain damage if it makes our society safer? As long as everyone is happy, why does it matter if you take away their original personality? Is it really our differences that make us fight with one another? Uglies had all the ingredients needed for a cool philosophical debate, but Scott Westerfeld failed make use of them. Which was such a shame because the ideas that could’ve made this great were there!

Murder of a Lady (Dr. Hailey #12) by Anthony Wynne (2.5/5 Stars)

Although it was a belated Christmas present from my mom, I’m afraid Murder of a Lady didn’t get to stay on my bookshelves for very long. I have certain standards, okay? πŸ€·β€β™€οΈ

Written in 1931, the novel is a part of a classic detective series following renowned amateur sleuth and doctor Eustace Hailey. In this installment, Hailey finds himself at Duchlan Castle, a gloomy and forbidding place in the Scottish Highlands where the laird’s sister has just been brutally stabbed to death. There’s no doubt in anyone’s minds that it was murder. Nor does it surprise anyone that people might’ve wanted the victim dead. However, what does puzzle everyone is that Lady Mary Gregor’s body was found in a locked room with barred windows, completely alone. There’s no trace that anyone was there, there’s no murder weapon, and there’s no sign of the murderer. Until they strike again.

To give you my thoughts in a nutshell, I felt like this was a pretty generic and slow-moving mystery that didn’t have a whole lot to offer. I enjoyed the Highland setting, but the totally contrived murder scenario and the bland characters ultimately made this fall flat for me. In my opinion, almost everyone lacked individuality; instead, the characters were walking stereotypes of people with a particular temperament. I just didn’t care enough about them to fully become invested, and since the mystery also meandered along instead of providing intriguing clues, I often found myself bored.

My recommendation: If you want to read early 20th-century crime fiction, try Agatha Christie instead!

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah (4.5/5 Stars)

Yes, guys, you should be proud. After years of saying that I wanted to read The Nightingale and never taking any action, I finally got a move on! And, even better, I ended up being completely drawn into the story! πŸ₯°

Mostly set in France during Nazi Germany’s occupation, The Nightingale is a World War II historical fiction novel about two sisters. Vianne, the older sibling, stoically pushes on after her husband is drafted for war and her town is invaded. She’s got her daughter to think about, and can’t afford to draw attention to herself. However, Vianne’s eighteen-year-old sister Isabelle is far more daring and outspoken. Refusing to remain silent as her country is taken from her, Isabelle vows to fight and joins the French resistance. Even if it means putting herself and her family at risk,

For me, The Nightingale did almost everything right. With its lyrical writing style, the story immediately sucked me in. I loved the characters and how complicatedly human they were. I adored how the book didn’t shy away from showing the complexities of war but also didn’t sensationalize then. And I had a lot of fun trying to piece together the mystery of the dual timelines: The Nightingale has a frame narrative set decades after the War, which is told from the perspectives of one sister, and figuring out who was narrating it certainly kept me occupied!

That being said, I don’t think the book was perfect, either. The author had apparently been so caught up in making her writing pretty that she didn’t catch several glaring consistency errors – characters’ ages, the amount of snow in town, people’s position in a room – which could definitely be a little jarring at times. Plus, she had a foible for overusing certain words. Let’s just say that when you’re told how “impetuous” a character is for the umpteenth time, it starts to get a little old…

Still, I thoroughly enjoyed The Nightingale! It was easily my favorite February read, and I would highly recommend it!

Saga, Volume I by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (3/5 Stars)

In an effort to convert me, my graphic novel enthusiast friends have been recommending Saga for ages – and I must admit, I’d always been intrigued. Sci-fi set in space? Lots of politics? You don’t really need to say much more than that to catch my attention!

The comic takes place in the midst of a seemingly never-ending galactic war, during which, against all odds, two enemy soldiers fall in love. Defying the hatred around them, Alana and Marko have a child – our narrator – which makes them a target in the eyes of their respective governments. Constantly pursued, the young family has to fend for itself and travels across the galaxy in search of a home where they will finally be allowed to live in peace.

Overall, I had a lot of fun with this! The genre was definitely my thing, the premise was cool, and I really liked seeing the characters’ interpersonal struggles and how those were influenced by the prejudiced societies they’d grown up in.

That being said, I also wish Saga had had a little more depth. Much like a Marvel movie, the comic is extremely action-packed and filled with random fight scenes, but uses humor to deflect right when things are about to get introspective. I just wanted a bit of downtime to explore the characters!

Still, in spite of that and my graphic novel wariness, I enjoyed this! I’m certainly intrigued enough to see how the story pans out to keep reading, so I’ll have to see if I can access the other volumes somewhere.

Broken Perfect Lies by Katie Wismer (3.5/5 Stars)

Having beta-read Broken Perfect Lies in November and December of last year, I obviously snagged myself a copy immediately when the finished book came out. I was beyond curious to see how the story had evolved, and besides, I always have the greatest time working with Katie. Of course I’m going to support her! πŸ€—

Inspired by Hannah Montana, Broken Perfect Lies is a coming-of-age romance about a pop star whose secret identity has recently been revealed in one of the most traumatizing ways imaginable. Still reeling from grief, the consequences of having lost her anonymity, and death threats from disappointed fans, Parker Beck is now unprotected – and she needs a new bodyguard, fast. Enter Heath Bridgers. Although he couldn’t care less about babysitting a spoiled rich girl, he could definitely use the money that comes with it. Which is how he and Parker end up in a reluctant partnership. A partnership that might slowly be becoming not so reluctant after all…

Even the second time around, I flew through this book. Broken Perfect Lies is told in a very readable, engaging writing style that instantly drew me in, and I loved the wholesomeness of the bond that slowly started to develop between Parker and Heath. Furthermore, I obviously liked the whole musical aspect! Since they hadn’t been in the draft I had originally read, I was thrilled when I saw that this edition included snippets from Parker’s journal entires and lyrics, and thought this was a really neat way of tying a bit of poetry into the book. And, of course, being the evil dark soul that I am, the themes of grief and finding oneself also really spoke to me.

That being said, I do think parts of the story could have used more development. The romance went from “we’re just friends” to “let’s have hot phone sex” a bit too quickly for my tastes, and, for something marketed as romantic suspense, I just didn’t find the book all that suspenseful. While Broken Perfect Lies does have a subplot featuring Parker being stalked, I wish she had dwelt on that a bit more so that we could have gotten to experience her fear and terror right along with her. Up until the big showdown, we got almost nothing, which felt a bit unrealistic if you ask me.

Still, I loved this book! I have so many fond memories of the time I spent working on it that I will probably always have fun rereading it, and besides, it was the perfect quick read to squeeze in after a stressful day at work. If you want a cute romance with a few thriller vibes thrown in, you might enjoy this one!

Hell Bent (Alex Stern #2) by Leigh Bardugo (1/5 Stars)

You know how I thought Leigh Bardugo’s King of Scars duology was a huge disappointment? Well, that was NOTHING compared to how I feel about Hell Bent πŸ™„ Quite honestly, the whole thing reads like a stoned fan-fiction writer penned it for a crowd of their thirsty TikTok followers and completely forgot about plot, character-development and pacing along the way.

The sequel to Ninth House – Which had I actually really enjoyed! – Hell Bent continues to follow Alex Stern, a student who attends Yale University on a scholarship and is part of a secret magical society tasked with keeping an eye on the university’s other secret magical societies. This semester, though, Alex isn’t taking her duties at Lethe all too seriously. Instead, she is intent on finding a way to the underworld – a way to hell that will allow her to rescue a friend she refuses to believe is dead.

Anyway, like I already said, I thought Hell Bent was utterly ridiculous garbage and am astounded it ever got published. Instead of having a cohesive plot, it was filled to the brim with strange time jumps and random dramatic encounters – Like, suddenly, we have demons, we have vampires, we have wolves, and they play a role for what, ten pages? Instead of exploring the characters we already know, it introduces a whole bunch of new ones that hardly get any page time at all. All conversations had next to no substance, but were written in such a dramatic manner that I couldn’t help but roll my eyes whenever anyone started speaking.

And simultaneously, I WAS BORED. SOOOO BORED!! Like, seriously, the one thing of relevance that happened in this book could be condensed to about a page; the rest was filler. Filler filled with about a thousand descriptions of a certain character whom I used to like’s glowing genitals and horniness…

To give you proof, here are some of Hell Bent‘s absolute top-notch quotes:


  • “‘Oh,’ said Dawes, her eyes darting around the room as if afraid to let her gaze land anywhere, but finally settling in the far corner – the place most distant from the sight of Darlington’s cock, which was very erect and shining like a supercharged, oversized glowstick.” (p. 65) [Ummm, okay…?]
  • “‘Darlington… You know you’re naked, right?” Like some perverse statue, hands resting on knees, horns alight, cock erect and glowing.” (p. 91) [Let’s mention the glowstick cock again a few times, just to make sure readers understand they really read this correctly, I guess. ]
  • “‘Why the fuck is he naked?'” (p. 131) [First sensible question I’ve read in this entire book, if you ask me!]
  • “He had been tempted to bury his face in his soup bowl and lap at it like a greedy animal. He wanted to place himself between Alex’s legs now and do the same to her.” (p. 414) [What a, um, romantic simile. Gotta praise Leigh Bardugo for that figurative language there!]

I think you get the picture… It seemed like the author thought throwing loads of naked Sarah-J.-Maas-inspired Darlington fan service at the reader would be enough to convince them that this utterly bland and plotless clusterfuck of a novel was an epic masterpiece, but unfortunately, I just wasn’t sold.


So yeah, overall? Although we’ve still got the majority of 2023 ahead of us, Hell Bent is already a strong contender for my least favorite book of the year and has made me lose all interest in continuing on with this series. Do not recommend.

Everybody seemed to be on fire in February! There were so many interesting posts around the blogosphere that I’m sure I’m forgetting some – especially since I’m finishing this wrap-up in the middle of the night and am ready to nod off to sleep at any second πŸ™ƒ – but here are a few of the posts I thoroughly enjoyed reading this past month!

  • Sophie @ Me & Ink gave us her thoughts on all things Alice Oseman, providing a comprehensive overview of Oseman’s books, her thoughts on them, and statistics on how well-received they seemed to be by the bookish community in general! 🌈
  • Lila @ Hardcover Haven gave us her two cents on who book reviews are for! πŸ““
  • Line @ First Line Reader recommended books based on weird Duolingo sentences!!! πŸ¦‰(Is it conceited to say that this was probably my favorite post of the month when I was the one who originally came up with this idea? Maybe But I just loved this post so, so much!! πŸ₯°)
  • Sumedha @ The Wordy Habitat gave us a detailed look into her book acquisition habits. For people who are too nosy for their own good – Like me, if you couldn’t already tell! – this is definitely super interesting! πŸ“š
  • Stargazer @ For Book Lovers and Random People started a very thoughtful discussion on whether we should be reading outside of our comfort zone πŸ€”
  • Robyn @ Voice of Reason wrote a really lyrical post on mental health and what it’s like to struggle with it πŸ’™
  • Merie @ Imperial Scribis and Diamond @ I Have 12% of a Plan co-created The Once Upon a Time Book Tag, which I thoroughly enjoyed reading. If I weren’t swamped with work and had about fifty other tags pending, I would totally give this one a try! πŸ‘ΈπŸ½
  • Jan @ Inkspun Tales reviewed the Tawny Man trilogy!! Oh my gosh, guys, I have been successful! I have converted other people into Robin Hobb fanatics!! I have never been more proud and am now desperately waiting for Jan to finish the rest of the series so we can gush about all things Fitz and the Fool together 😍
  • Anoushka @ Dipped in Ink gave us a January wrap-up which may have been a little belated but was filled with so much excited screaming and cute cat and dog pictures that I couldn’t help but fall in love! Besides, Anoushka offered me chocolate, which is definitely an added bonus! 🍫
  • Nehal @ Quirky Pages reviewed the Infernal Devices, and let’s just say things get sassy πŸ˜‚ I’m so happy to have found another Jem-isn’t-actually-that-great person out there!

And that finally brings us to the end of this wrap-up!

(Thank god! πŸ˜…  You better read less in March, Naemi, because you currently do not have the time to be writing this many reviews! )

As always, I’d love to know whether you’ve read any of the books I mentioned here, and, if you did, what your thoughts on them were! Also, let me know what you were up to in February! Hopefully, you at least had a bit more luck picking out books than I did…

(Also, I’m still looking for people interested in collabing with me on my 600 follower Q&A post, so if you missed that announcement and would like to participate, you can check it out here!)

36 thoughts on “What I Read in February 2023

  1. Anoushka says:

    naemi, here’s a secret: i sometimes take to haunting the reader on saturday mornings because that’s the day when new posts of yours arrive. IT’S KIND OF ALSO ONE OF THE HIGHLIGHTS OF MY WEEK. I LOVE THEM. SO INCREDIBLY MUCH. also they’re loads of fun AND I LOVE FUN.

    im so glad february was overall a pretty good month though!! CONGRATS ON SURVIVING AN ENTIRE YEAR OF TEACHING (NO, BUT SERIOUSLY. IM KIND OF REALLY PROUD OF YOU) AND AS SOMEONE WHO’S NEVER HAD THE GREATEST EVER FATE OF SEEING REAL SNOW, I VERY MUCH APPRECIATE ALL THE SNOW PICTURES, THANK YOU. but eh sorry february sucked pretty bad, book-wise. ESPECIALLY THE BURNING GOD AND HELL BENT?? although im entitled by honesty TO ADMIT THAT THE RANTS WERE FUN TO READ. but im also scared to read them both now too.

    ha but i AM sorry as good as dead turned out so bad ESPECIALLY BECAUSE RAVI??? BECAUSE A NOBODY?? HOW DARE THE AUTHOR. ravi’s kind of like the best part of the first book okay I SHALL SOB 😭😭

    your descriptions of this is where it ends are slightly hilarious to read BUT OOPS FOR HAVING TO GO THROUGH THE TORTURE. AT LEAST DIAL A FOR AUTIES MADE LIFE BETTER THOUGH, SO THATS NICE. except while we’re on the topic, YOU READ DIAL A FOR AUNTIES!!!!!!! it’s the kind of laugh-out-loud-enough-to-wake-up-the-neighbourhood levels of hilarious AND ALSO VERY FUN. i like.

    i maybe very likely have a library copy of the nightingale (VERY KINDLY FOUND WHILE I WAS SEARCHING THE SHELVES FOR ROBIN HOBB BOOKS WHICH I THEN FOUND TOO SO THANK YOU TIMES TWO) so you saying it was amazing MAKES ME EVEN MORE EXCITED?? i must read it asap now AND SCREAM IN YOUR MESSAGES WHEN IT UNFORGIVINGLY DESTROYS ME. im excited!!!


    Liked by 1 person

    • abookowlscorner says:

      Well, haunting and stalking is the sincerest form of flattery, right? πŸ˜‚ Seriously, though, I’m so happy to hear you like my posts! πŸ₯°

      Although, yes, my luck with books was AWFUL last month! 😭😭 HOW DARE THESE BOOKS LET ME DOWN SO MUCH?! ESPECIALLY WHEN I HAD BEEN PATIENTLY ANTICIPATING SOME OF THEM (**cough Hell Bent cough**) FOR YEARS? 😭😭😭 IT WAS NOT FAIR!!!

      Although, I, too, might be most furious about the Ravi thing πŸ˜₯ It’s a close tie between him and Darlington, but you’re right, Ravi was just the purest, sweetest, and most awesome soul, and I hated what was done to him! 😀

      All I can say is: Fingers crossed that you will like these books a whole lot more than me! (Although if you do hate them, I would mind getting a rant review from you, either… πŸ‘€ Just saying! I’m still cackling over The Summer I Turned Pretty one! πŸ˜‚)

      But ahhh, yes, Dial A For Aunties and The Nightingale saved the month for me!!! SOOO MUCH BETTER THAN ALL OF THE OTHER GARBAGE I ACCIDENTALLY KEPT PICKING UP!!
      So yes, I’d love to hear your Nightingale thoughts soon!




  2. Line @First Line Reader says:

    Is your average rating actually going to be lower than mine this year? 2.9 is so low!! 😱 I’m at a 3.6 which feels higher than normal for me πŸ˜…

    Anyway, I was so excited for your Hell Bent review that I also forgot how much you read in February, including that you had read With Fate Conspire! I pretty much agree with you except for the fact that I don’t remember enough about the ending to say if it was infodumpy. But the general feeling that the book was fine? Yes. I was also bored for most of it but not enough to make me hate it. It was all just okay and the characters were fine, although I thought it was a weird way to end the series. You know, a book with completely new characters just makes it feel like it stands apart from the rest πŸ€”

    I’ve heard about Uglies as one of those books everyone read as a teen but I think I’m just going to steer clear of that one now πŸ˜…

    And then the Hell Bent review πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ I didn’t particularly like the first book either and thought it had some of the same problems such as pacing and meaningless/dramatic dialogue. I was considering reading Hell Bent because I felt like we were promised more Darlington in that (and yes I read the spoilers and I think it would have been a bigger spoiler if Darlington DIDN’T reappear πŸ˜…)… but if I have to read about his glowing dick every time, I’m not sure it’s worth it. That’s not what made him interesting in the first book πŸ™ˆ But I guess that’s what people like considering the book’s Goodreads rating is currently 4.29 πŸ˜‚

    Thanks for sharing my post and I’d say you’re allowed to love a post inspired by your own idea. I’m just glad I could do it justice πŸ˜„ Btw, after posting it I of course got the most perfect German sentence that I need you to know about: “Die Hexe bringt ihr Date mit, er ist ein BΓ€r.” I would so have used that for Winternight!! πŸ˜‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • abookowlscorner says:

      I sincerely hope not! 😫 No offense, but I was perfectly satisfied with leaving all of those awful books to you! Although, realistically speaking, I think our average ratings are both going to drop a bit more in the near future, if our current buddy reading thoughts are any indication… πŸ˜…

      And yeah, “fine” is the perfect description for With Fate Conspire. I wasn’t bored enough to dislike it, either – in fact, I even enjoyed large parts of it – but it just didn’t do that much for me. Although I didn’t really mind getting new characters for the ending. I had kind of expected that after the previous two books. But I was hoping for a bit more of a showdown that maybe tied in all of the old characters a bit more, too!

      I think I can safely say that it’s okay to skip Uglies and Hell Bent, though. Especially Hell Bent!! 😀 Like, you have no idea – there actually isn’t even a whole lot of Darlington in it, and every time he is mentioned, he also has to wave his glowing dick into readers’ faces πŸ™„πŸ™ˆ Like, seriously, at first I thought I’d misread this, but then Darlington’s nakedness and his lighthouse penis were the only personality traits he had! I WAS SO MAD!! And the fact that so many people on Goodreads apparently love this turn of events and are now thirsting over Darlington even more is mind-boggling 😳

      That German Duolingo sentence managed to lighten my mood a lot, though! It really is perfect for Winternight! πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ Although who says you can’t do another post sometime in the future and recommend Winternight again? πŸ€” After all, you can never recommend Winternight too many times! πŸ₯°

      Liked by 1 person

      • Line @First Line Reader says:

        I think that’s a correct assessment of our future average rating πŸ˜‚

        The only thing that now makes me curious about Hell Bent is WHY Darlington’s dick is glowing πŸ˜‚ I mean, it’s a unique thing to have as your only personality trait πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

        I can always recommend Winternight again, yes 😁 I only recommended the first book this time and this sentence goes along better with The Winter of the Witch anyway.

        Liked by 1 person

        • abookowlscorner says:

          Well, just say the word and I’ll spoil you with a bit of glowdick backstory! 🀣 Honestly, I’m a bit fuzzy on some of the details myself, though… So maybe you reading Hell Bent wouldn’t be the worst idea – I’m sure I would get lots of entertainment out of it! 😁

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Janette says:

    I’m so sorry that you ended up reading so many dud books in February. I always feel cheated if I get too many books that I don’t enjoy as I read for enjoyment – what’s the point of reading a book that I don’t like!!!!!! I definitely agree with your thoughts on The Dragon God. I ended up skipping quite a bit of that one when I read it. I did love Nightingale though. I read the first one of the Leigh Bardugo books after loving the Grishaverse books so much but I didn’t like any of the characters and it seemed unnecessarily gory to me so I haven’t even bothered with Hell Bent.
    However, surely things can only get better from now on. Here’s hoping that your March reads are more enjoyable.

    Liked by 1 person

    • abookowlscorner says:

      Yeah, I really don’t know what I did to deserve such bad luck πŸ˜₯ Especially since I’d been eagerly anticipating so many of the sequels I ended up hating!
      I definitely don’t blame you at all for skim-reading The Burning God; I feel like you probably didn’t miss much πŸ˜…
      And in retrospect, you can probably consider yourself lucky you already didn’t like Ninth House and were able to spare yourself the disappointment that was Hell Bent!

      I’m glad you also enjoyed The Nightingale, though! That book really saved the month for me, if we’re being honest, and I’m definitely intrigued to see what else Kirstin Hannah has to offer now πŸ€—

      Here’s to a great March for both of us!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Mesal A. says:

    wow, you have Not had the greatest reading month, even though you did get through a decent amount of books… but many many congratulations on completing your first year of teaching! i’ve been there myself, and i know how it feels ❀

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Anonymous says:

    I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy a lot of these books! I read uglies at 16 and I think I liked it back then, but no way I’m feeling the same about it if I read it now. Some to think of it, other than red queen, I haven’t read a YA dystopia book in YEARS (I used to gobble them up when I was a kid)
    Somebody had screenshot THAT hellbent paragraph about the supercharged oversized glow stick and posted it on twitter, where it made rounds. As someone who hasn’t read the books I was like ????!!!!? I DO NOT WANT TO KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT IT.
    I LOVED the poppy war but I haven’t picked up dragon republic yet.
    Thanks for sharing my post, Hope you have a great month ahead!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • abookowlscorner says:

      Well, apart from when I have to clear a path to get to my door, I really love the snow! So I’m willing to put up with the cold if it means I get to have it! β„οΈπŸ˜‡


  6. jan says:

    My comment sorta disappeared so I’m writing this again, lol (please ignore this if you’ve already got my comment)

    I read uglies back when I was in my YA dystopia phase. I didn’t like it much back then and now I think I’ll hate it (I remember a love triangle. Was there a love triangle in this?)

    Someone screenshot that one paragraph in Hellbent about the supercharged oversized glowstick and posted it on twitter where it made rounds, and i was like, ?????!!?? I DID NOT believe those were actual words leigh bardugo wrote at first.

    I’m sorry you didn’t like the burning god! I loved the poppy war but that was months ago, and I still haven’t read the dragon republic. I’ve read half of Dial A for Aunties, and it really is the stomach-hurting laugh out loud kind of book. I should finish the rest of the book adkajfk

    Congrats on completing your first year of teaching, and hope you have a great month ahead!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • abookowlscorner says:

      Yeah, apparently WordPress didn’t realize the comment was yours and put it in spam??? Sometimes, you really start to wonder… πŸ™ˆ But I found it! (And I hope you’re not mad at me for not ignoring this one and responding to both instead – after all, your work shouldn’t be in vain, and, besides, they’re not completely identical and I have thoughts! 😁)

      Regarding Uglies, I am pretty sure it is exactly like the books I loved during my dystopian phase – I’m just not tainting my memories by going back to reread some of the more questionable ones πŸ˜… But yes, Uglies did have a (very annoying) love triangle! I’m curious, though, as to what you thought of Red Queen as a more seasoned reader. Like, when I was around 16, I really enjoyed the first one, but the sequels bored me to tears! So now I’m thinking that Red Queen might not’ve been the biggest masterpiece, either…

      That was my exact reaction to that glowstick paragraph!! I had somehow managed to avoid spoilers, so I read it, and then I read it again, and then again – MY BRAIN JUST COULDN’T PROCESS THAT THOSE WERE ACTUAL WORDS LEIGH BARDUGO HAD PUT IN THE BOOK AND DECIDED TO PUBLISH!!

      Yeah, unfortunately, The Poppy War series really went downhill with each book, in my opinion πŸ˜₯ I also adored the first one, so even when the second one felt a bit lackluster, I had high hopes for the finale! But, alas, alas, they were brutally crushed 😭 I really hope you end up liking the rest of the series more, though! Though, of course, Dial A for Aunties is always a great alternative πŸ˜‚

      And of course I had to share your post! IT WAS ROBIN HOBB CONTENT! 🀩πŸ₯°πŸ€© (In other words: I definitely wouldn’t mind getting more of that in the future 😁)

      Anyway, thank you, Jan, and a great March to you, too! πŸ’™

      Liked by 1 person

      • jan says:

        Back when I read Red Queen as a teenager I had thought it was the coolest world building idea ever and I liked the story as well. I don’t remember if i read the rest of the books. When I read it a few months back the thing that most stood out was the not-like-other-girl-isms of the main character which was UNBEARABLE sometimes painful to read. (When you’re aware of the cliches and cringe they just stand out double) It’s trashy but fun, I think I gave it 3 stars. If I had been in a worse mood when I read it i would’ve ended up giving it 1 star, but nostalgia won I guess

        Liked by 1 person

    • abookowlscorner says:

      Yeah, I had really been expecting so much more from R.F. Kuang and Leigh Bardugo! 😭 But who knows, maybe I was just in a super critical mood this month? Hell Bent seems to be pretty popular on Goodreads, so maybe you’ll enjoy it more than I did…
      A great March to you as well, Ella!


  7. Riddhi B. says:

    loved reading your wrap-up, and wow Naemi you’ve been so productive! I need to take inspiration from you!!
    I am so sorry you didn’t like As Good As Dead, since its my favourite book of the series, but ah well.
    Dial A for Aunties is on my TBR, so I’m glad to hear you liked it!
    hope you’ve a good march!

    Liked by 1 person

    • abookowlscorner says:

      Well, I’m not sure if productivity is all that desirable if it leads you reading loads of terrible books in a row – so maybe don’t follow my example too closely! πŸ˜‚

      I’m glad you liked As Good As Dead more than I did, though! Unfortunately, the twist just really didn’t work for me. My brain just couldn’t be convinced that it was in character or realistic, I guess πŸ˜•

      Dial A for Aunties is a ton of fun, though! I really think you’re going to enjoy it and can’t wait for your thoughts! πŸ€—

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Sophie @ Me & Ink says:

    February seemed incredible for your reading!! You went all out and I love it! Also, congrats on a year of teaching! That’s amazing! I hope you did something to celebrate! πŸ₯³
    I read The Burning God recently, which was the worst of the series for me as well. I thought it had no stakes, sometimes I felt like it tried to tell us there were stakes but clearly there weren’t. It would have been stronger with Kitay’s and Nezha’s POVs imo.
    Dial A For Aunties is ridiculous but definitely fun. I’m glad you liked it!
    I recently read Saga as well and I really enjoyed it. You are definitely right about how it doesn’t have a lot of depth and the comparison to Marvel is actually very true. But I love Marvel so it suits me for entertainment value. There are so many volumes to read though!
    I hope you have a wonderful March and thank you so much for the shout-out!! ❀️

    Liked by 1 person

    • abookowlscorner says:

      Well, yeah, book-quantity-wise, I’m pretty happy with myself! 😊 Book-quality-wise, I’m really hoping March is going to improve a little, though… πŸ˜… I am planning to pick up Jade City soon, though, and have high hopes for that!

      Unfortunately, I totally agree in The Burning God having had no stakes! At this point, Rin just felt so overpowered that I lost all interest in reading about her battles and moral conundrums. You’re right – reading from Kitay or Nezha’s would probably have been way more interesting.

      And despite my complaints about the lack of depth, I did have a ton of fun with Saga 😁 I definitely want to continue, but it’s currently proving a bit difficult to get access to the other volumes. Neither Scribd or my library currently has them, and since I don’t think I loved the first one enough to buy my own copies, I guess I’m going to have to wait πŸ˜•

      But anyway – a happy March to you, too, Sophie!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Sumedha @ the wordy habitat says:

    oh no im so sorry you had such a bad reading month! some days really do be like it </3
    i enjoyed the burning god but one of my friends is currently struggling to finish the book and return my copy (it has been MONTHS) and when i think back…. i realize that what you said was true. it was a mess and it was boring at a lot of parts and only Kitay was a saving grace. the book need not have been that long. oof.

    at least you enjoyed dial a for aunties! i really liked it as well, mainly because it was so clearly not meant to be realistic or serious so anything and everything was entertaining, lol.

    i hope march has much better books in store for you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • abookowlscorner says:

      Yeah, I seriously hope those better books are coming my way… πŸ˜… Although I am currently reading Empire of the Vampire and enjoying it, so I feel pretty confident saying that I’m probably at least leaving one- and two-star territory behind!

      And I’m glad you enjoyed The Burning God more than me! Even if I very much relate to your friend, I hope my pessimistic rant didn’t taint your memory too much! πŸ˜‚

      Dial A for Aunties is definitely a whole lot of fun, though! I really need to pick up the sequel soon as well because I can definitely use more macabrely ridiculous entertainment! πŸ˜πŸ˜‡


  10. Suhani says:

    AHHH NO I’M SO SORRY YOU DIDN’T LIKE THE BURNING GOD 😭 it definitely was a bit boring in a few parts but I did enjoy the overall showdown πŸ˜‚
    I’ve been putting off reading as good as dead for a while now, I’m sorry that you were disappointed by that too, AND NOOO RAVI WAS THE BEST PART OF THE SERIES, now I’m even more anxious to get to it
    I didn’t really love ninth house, so I’m not looking forward to hell bent, I don’t think I’ll be getting to it for a while lol.
    Love this and hope you have a wonderful march! ❀

    Liked by 1 person

    • abookowlscorner says:

      Yeah, I really thought I would end up liking The Burning God more, too 😭 But apparently, I’m just incredibly grumpy and impossible to please… I’m happy you liked it more than me, though!

      And who knows? Maybe me not liking The Burning God is actually a good sign because it means you don’t have to set that much store by my opinion on As Good As Dead, either? πŸ˜‚ After all, there are also plenty of people who love it, so you might be one of them!

      I would seriously reconsider if you truly want to put yourself through Hell Bent, though, especially if you already didn’t like the first book much. The reading experience is truly excruciating! 😬

      A great March to you as well, Suhani! πŸ’™


  11. stargazer says:

    Sorry to hear, you didn’t have much luck with your picks in Feb. I have considered reading The Poppy War, but really hate when a trilogy goes downhill after a promising first book. Do you ever DNF? I am not good at it, but for books in 2-star territory, I would definitely consider it.

    Glad you still managed to find a few gems, Dial A for Aunties sounds fun!

    Thanks so much for all the links to interesting posts and for linking to my discussion about reading outside your comfort zone. πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

    • abookowlscorner says:

      Unfortunately, I tend to be very bad at DNFing πŸ˜… My curiosity always wins out in the end – like, if I’ve started a story, I need to be in the know! I need a proper ending to the reading experience! So no matter how much I hate something, I’ll usually power through. Unless it’s a series – I’ve gotten a lot better at DNFing those if I really hate the direction they’re going, but even then, I’ll usually at least finish the book I’m on.

      But yes, at least I had Dial A for Aunties last month! If you’re looking for a bit of ridiculous relaxation, that book is absolutely perfect πŸ₯°

      And you’re welcome! Your post really made me think, so obviously, I loved reading it!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Nehal Jain says:

    So i haven’t read that final book in good girl, I only read the first book and it wasnt all that great, so I’m kinda secretly kinda glad you didn’t think the ending was all that great coz now I don’t feel bad about missing out on it 🀣.
    Dial a for the aunties tho, it’s been on my tbr too, idk why I never felt like reading it.
    And your thoughts on uglies… πŸ₯Ί they make sense and everything but i loved the series, but that’s mainly coz I hadn’t read too many dystopian back then and i was also reading audiobook which was a new format. Hahaa i mean, yeah, what u r saying tho does sound like very agreeable so yeah.
    And the nightingale, another one on my tbr but it intimidates me so muchhhhh.
    Okay obviously I read the spoiler parts of that leigh bardugo book because I have nothing better to do πŸ˜‚. And i can’t omg πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚. This is lit. That super glowing — what even
    And omg thanks so much for mentioning my post. And yeah, ik I’m shamelessly late but i have barely opened WordPress lately 😭😭. I’m so sorry but I’m also so happy that my review managed to make it here πŸ₯°.

    Liked by 1 person

    • abookowlscorner says:

      Nehal!!! πŸ€—πŸ₯°πŸ€— Your shameless lateness has made my day!! It’s so nice to hear from you!!

      And lol, I’m glad I managed to make you feel better about not jumping on the hype train where A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder is concerned 🀣 I still think the first book is great, though! (Way better than Uglies, at least, that’s for sure 😜) I suppose it should just have remained a standalone 😭

      And of course you would’ve evilly read the Leigh Bardugo spoilers, Neigh-hal 😈 Why didn’t I expect anything else? 🀣

      Liked by 1 person

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