February was an awesome month of reading and I found some new favourites. I will be talking about these books in order of my least favourite to my favourite.
No one is more disappointed than I am that I didn’t love The Last Tale of the Flower Bride. I thought that this would be my perfect book because I love haunted house stories, Gothic romances, and flowery writing. Sadly, those elements just didn’t work for me in this case. There were moments of gorgeous writing but I prefer my purple prose to be saying something. I will talk more about a case where this style of writing truly worked for me later on in this post. There were too many meaningless metaphors that took me out of the story. “She looked like the nostalgia that settles in your ribs at the end of a story you have never read, yet nevertheless know.” Okay, pretty but what does it mean? I also think that this book is mismarketed. Do not go into this expecting fantasy. There are a lot of fairytale references but it is not actually a fairytale. It reads more like suspense. It is also not about a toxic marriage but about a toxic friendship between two teenage girls. I am not sure that the bridegroom’s perspective added anything to the story. We get a lot of flashbacks and I think that leads to The Last Tale of the Flower Bride feeling more YA than I anticipated. I also love Gothic haunted house stories where the house itself feels like a character but I didn’t quite get that here. My final quibble is that I saw the ending coming from a mile away, which is disappointing! I have been told that I will enjoy The Gilded Wolves, so I will definitely be giving that a try.
For Butter or Worse is a foodie romance and there was a lot that I enjoyed about it; however, I struggled to get on board with the love interest. We will start with the positives! I loved all of the food descriptions and the fact that both characters work on a cooking show and also run a restaurant. Nina is an incredible character who is dealing with the loss of her mother and the struggles of social media hate. That is where my problems with Leo come in- he is the instigator of this hate and knowing that stopped me from rooting for the romance. That said, I am still happy I read this because Nina makes it worth it, as does her best friend and Leo’s brother. I still recommend giving this a try if you enjoy fake dating and enemies to lovers!
Gallows Hill was my first book from Darcy Coates and I am eager to try more from her, particularly her shorter novels. I think I just prefer my horror to be under 300 pages because this was just a little too slow burn for me. I thought that it felt repetitive and the main character was frustrating at times, but I loved the writing and the atmosphere and the ending was fantastic! I think I am going to try Craven Manor next.
Fever Dream is aptly named because I would 100% describe this book as a fever dream. It is one of those books that will keep you up at night and slowly grow on you. I find myself thinking about this book more and more as time goes on. This is a book I think I will have to reread to truly appreciate it, which is easy to do as it is only 183 pages. This line from the synopsis pretty much sums it up- “Fever Dream is a nightmare come to life, a ghost story for the real world, a love story and a cautionary tale.”
Mysterious Ways is one of the SPFBO finalists and it made me realize how much I enjoy the themes of angels and demons and overworlds and underworlds. That is a setup that just works for me, so if you have any recommendations please let me know! I am so glad that Cassidy asked me to join in this project to read the finalists because something like this would never have been on my radar otherwise. This is just plain fun and has a slow burn sapphic romance and an adorable bodyguard-type character named Theo. It tackles a lot of themes you might expect in a book like this one, particularly good vs evil, but does so in a way that felt fresh and new. There is a discussion about creationism at the end that I thought was quite interesting. There is potential for Abbie Evans to write a lot more books in this world and I will read them.
Final Girls is my first book by Mira Grant and I cannot wait to read more from her. I have the audiobook for Into the Drowning Deep downloaded and ready to go! Final Girls is SciFi horror and I thought it brought up some interesting questions about using virtual reality as a form of therapy. There is a twist that happens that I don’t think was needed by can understand why it was there because it did add to the tension. If you like Black Mirror, or books that read like a Black Mirror episode, I think you would enjoy this novella. It is definitely a story that is best consumed in one sitting!
Coming Home is a short story written by Kennedy Ryan and is unfortunately an Audible Exclusive. This was my first experience with this author and don’t be surprised if I read her entire backlist over the course of the year. I think this is the perfect length for a second chance!
When the Reckoning Comes was the last book I read for 72 Hours in the Haunted House. Reading this book lead to another realization when it comes to what I like in horror and about the genre in general. I appreciate horror that has something to say or is social commentary, and I think that When the Reckoning Comes did that best among all of the books I read for this readathon. I do wish that there was a different kind of reckoning (if you have read this, you know!) but I did enjoy seeing the character have her own personal reckoning. It was also so well written!
Fugitive Telemetry is the last novella in the Murderbot series and I was told it was best to read this before getting to the full length novel, Network Effect. I think that was a good decision because this reads almost like a Murderbot sidequest. It read like an isolated murder mystery with Murderbot being the detective and I enjoyed every second of it.
Clytemnestra was a great reminder that I need to read more Greek Myth retellings because I always love them. I highly recommend reading this first and then picking up Elektra by Jennifer Saint. I think it would be interesting to compare them. Even though I knew what was coming in this story, it still made me emotional and I cried. I think that says a lot about the author and her writing!
I finally read A Closed and Common Orbit, the second book in the Wayfarer series, and I adored it. It is much more focused than the first book and it hit me in a different way. It made me emotional and I think that this book takes the found family to another level. We follow a side character from book one, so don’t expect to follow all of the same characters. I thought this would hinder my enjoyment but I quickly became invested in the character we do follow!
Seven Days in June lived up to all the hype! I don’t know what it is, but I read a lot of emotional books in February. The chemistry between these characters was everything and I thought there was something so romantic about their story. I think it is important to know going in that this is not a rom-com and we get flashbacks that can be difficult to read about.
I had such a hard time deciding whether I loved Seven Days in June or Reel more, but Reel has stayed with me more! I love these characters and this romance, but I also appreciated a lot of the conversations that were had in this book. Neevah has lupus, so that is at the center of this book, and she also has a complicated relationship with her family. Canon is aware that there is a power unbalance in their relationship given that he is a director and she is an actress, but he acknowledges it, is concerned about it, and they talk about it. I love that! There was just something so beautiful about this book and I cannot wait to read more from Kennedy Ryan.
What can I say about A Dowry of Blood that hasn’t been said a million times before? This book is so beautifully written and atmospheric and there was something so special about the experience I had while reading it.