2021 February Wrap Up

It’s easy to see that this month I read a lot more than I have in the last 4-5 months. I’m grateful that I got my hands on so many books that I enjoyed reading. And that my reading slump appears to be gone! It’s been weird not reading anything the last little bit, completely unusual for me. In February I certainly changed this up by reading a fair bit. I stuck mostly to things I was likely to enjoy reading and it paid off.

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As always, here are some pictures of my pup, Yzma. (Shameless plug for her adorable PupStagram account @YzmaTheHound):

Without further ado, here’s my reading stats for February:


For reference: Physical books, eBooks, AudioBooks, and Library books.

Total books completed: 12

Total pages read: 4,071 pages (avg. 340 pages)


Completed Books:

  1. Mu: The Grimm Cases by Lyla Oweds (The Grimm Cases, Books 1-3)[4 stars] 759 pages
  2. The Deep by Rivers Solomon (Goodreads)[5 stars] 166 pages
  3. Hidden by Lyla Oweds (The Grimm Cases, Book 4)[4 stars] 451 pages
  4. Balance by Lyla Oweds (The Grimm Cases, Book 5)[4 stars] 320 pages
  5. Boring is the New Black by Megan Bryce (The Fashionista and the Geek, Book 1)[2 stars] 204 pages
  6. Takakush by Raine Reiter (Genus Magica, Book 1)[4 stars] 276 pages
  7. Heir of Lies by Mallory McCartney (Black Dawn, Book 1)[4.25 stars] 272 pages
  8. Queen to Ashes by Mallory McCartney (Black Dawn, Book 2)[4 stars] 350 pages
  9. Reaper by Jonathan Pongratz (Reaper, Book 1)[4 stars] 96 pages
  10. The Secret Girl by C.M. Stunich (Adamson All-Boys Academy, Book 1)[3.5 stars] 420 pages
  11. The Ruthless Boys by C.M. Stunich (Adamson All-Boys Academy, Book 2)[3.5 stars] 469 pages
  12. The Forever Crew by C.M. Stunich (Adamson All-Boys Academy, Book 3)[3 stars] 288 pages

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Review Posts:

  1. A Conventicle of Magpies by LMR Clarke
  2. Mu: The Grimm Cases by Lyla Oweds *Non-Spoiler Review*
  3. In an Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire
  4. Queen to Ashes by Mallory McCartney
  5. Takakush by Raine Reiter
  6. Coffee, Tea, or Me by Rich Amooi
  7. House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J Maas
  8. The Deep by Rivers Solomon
  9. Mu: The Grimm Cases by Lyla Oweds *Spoiler Review*
  10. Reaper by Jonathan Pongratz
  11. Holly Freakin; Hughes by Kelsey Kingsley
  12. Boring is the New Black by Megan Bryce

Spotlight Posts:

  1. Between Love and Murder by Chris Bedell
  2. Love Him / Hate Him by Chris Bedell


Wrap Up:

Mu: The Grimm Cases by Lyla Oweds:

The story follows Bianca Brosnan as she discovers that the house she’s watching for her professor is haunted and decides to do something about it. Especially when the haunting turns dangerous and Bianca starts getting hurt. When going to her best friend doesn’t work, she reaches out the the only person she think might actually believe her – even if she’s never met him before in her life. Desperate times call for desperate measures, right?

This collection includes the first 3 books in the series – Origins, Ghost, and Blood – as well as bonus chapters and the companion short Home. Which was just perfect for me as it took me a while to get into the story. Thankfully, as soon as I the story pulled me in it had me in its thrall.

Bianca is a unique character to be in the head of. She thinks in a way that almost confuses me even though as the reader I’m able to follow her train of thought. She comes to some of the most insane conclusions that I’ve ever read. She takes people and their words at face value… most of the time. The rest of the time she over analyzes what they’ve said until their words take on a whole new meaning. And it’s fantastic.

Basically the second that I finished this collection I picked up the next book in the series and dove straight back into this world. Because my goodness does this story take the reader on a ride.

The Deep by Rivers Solomon:

Yetu holds the memories for her people – water dwelling descendants of pregnant African slave women thrown overboard by slave owners – who live idyllic lives in the sea. Their past too traumatic for all but their historian to remember save but once a year.

Yetu remembers for everyone. The memories, painful and wonderful, traumatic and terrible and miraculous, are destroying her. And so she flees to the surface to escape the memories and obligations that go along with being her peoples’ historian.

I truly need to thank my boyfriend for this read. If he hadn’t picked the book up for himself, there’s a chance that I never would have read it. And that would have been a travesty.

This story is gripping and impactful. It tells a story that I didn’t know needed to be told – using a truly devastating genocide that happened in the world to create a beautiful tale. This story brings light to a serious issue that still exists today – rampant racism. While this issue is not the main focus of the story, it carries weight within the creation of the wajinru.

Yetu’s story has impact. It has weight. It might be fictional, but the meaning in these words and the lessons you can learn from them matter.

Hidden by Lyla Oweds:

Bianca finally found the place she belonged, only to be ripped away from the only people that every really got her and helped her feel normal. Her greatest fear becomes her reality when she’s once again locked up with people who would call her crazy. Everyone keeps telling her that she’s broken and is there to get help, but this time Bianca isn’t going to roll over and let others decide her truth for her.

While I was gifted the first 3 books in this series in exchange for an honest review on it, I jumped at the chance to continue this series as soon as I could. The characters and their situations are truly engaging to me. The decisions they make and the way they think about things is fascinating. While I’ve always had a habit of devouring worlds that I enjoy being in, I can honestly say this is the fastest I’ve flown through a series in a long time.

Bianca and the guys go through a ridiculous amount in this series, but especially in this novel. At almost 500 pages, that makes sense. But even for a novel this long it’s extremely action packed. A lot of clues are given to the reader, a lot of trickery goes on behind the scenes. If I hadn’t already devoured the next book in the series it would be my next read.

Balance by Lyla Oweds:

Miles is kind, caring, and sensitive. At least, that’s what Bianca thought until he left with nothing but a note and the days passed by. With his absence, mysteries begin unravelling and new alliances are formed. But there’s still a hole in Bianca’s chest that none of the other guys can fill. As much as they tell her not to worry, she can’t help it.

In case I haven’t said it already, this story has me hooked. Being the fifth story in the series, the characters and their relationships are already extremely fleshed out. Except, like a fantastic writer would, Oweds continues to have her characters grow and change. Their relationships with each other as well as themselves are dynamic and keep me wanting more. Watching the characters come to terms with their own strengths and weaknesses makes me want to be a better person myself.

The world itself also continues to grow and change before the reader’s eyes. Bianca’s past continues to be explained – both the hardships she underwent and the sprinkling of joys that she knew growing up. But even still, the reader is left with more questions than answers in regards to what really happened to Bianca before she got adopted by the Greiers.

If this wasn’t the most recent story in the series, I would have already picked up and read the next one. As it is, I sit here waiting (not so) patiently for the next book to come out. I’m not kidding when I say I can’t wait to dive back into this amazing world.

Boring is the New Black by Megan Bryce:

Nicole is the daughter of famed supermodel Nikita Bissette. Because of this, Nicole has unwillingly lived her entire life in the limelight. She’s learned that in order to keep attention off of herself she’s going to need to rely on her resting bitch face. And never smile. When all she wants is to be normal, Nicole will do anything it takes to stay out of the spotlight.

I’ll be honest, this book was pretty average to read. While I have nothing against a cheesy romance novel – in fact, I quite enjoy picking them up when I’m in the mood for some good cheese – this book had been sitting in my collection for a while now. The reason I picked it up was to complete February’s Buzzword Readathon challenge.

Overall, this was a cute story. Nothing exceptional happens in it, but cute nonetheless. I would have rating this story higher than I did, except I really didn’t like the ending. To me, the ending fell flat. I can tell that it was meant to be cute, but it was lacking something to me. Because of this, I don’t think I’ll end up continuing on with this series.

Takakush by Raine Reiter:

When Professor Elena Lukas returns to her cozy Pacific Northwest hometown with a broken heart, she’s plunged back into the fate she tried to escape. Like her mother and grandmother before her, Elena must now dedicate her life to a powerful ancient Lithuanian goddess. Although she is prepared to live as a priestess hiding in a contemporary tourist town, she arrives to find that a series of so-called animal attacks have terrorized her forest.

With the help of a handsome detective from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Elena uses her expertise in invasive and endangered species to identify that these are no normal animal attacks. The woods are stalked by a dark, mystical creature bent on ravaging the area in an attempt to quell its insatiable hunger. When her little sister goes missing, Elena realizes that the beast can only be vanquished if she is brave enough to face it in-person, embrace her identity as a high priestess, and expose her powers to the man she is growing feelings for.

On top of the gripping premise behind this story, this book’s cover is absolutely stunning. The cover is what first caught my eye and I’m thrilled to say that its contents more than met my expectations. This story is written in the third person, with multiple perspectives clearly labeled throughout. While this is something that’s hard to get right, Reiter managed to absolutely nail the third person multiple perspective narrative. Every part had its meaning and each character’s perspective helped move the story forward in a unique way.

I was given this story in exchange for an honest review, and I can honestly say that I flew through it. Though it’s a small book, I managed to get the entire thing read in basically a single sitting. And I say basically because my adorable pup Yzma demanded a 2 hour interlude to take a trip to the dog park. If it wasn’t for her – and my responsibilities as a pet parent – I wouldn’t have put the book down until the last page was read.

Heir of Lies by Mallory McCartney:

Emory Fae has only known life at The Academy, a school for those who have special abilities. Upholding her parents’ dreams and following in their footsteps falls to her and one of her best friends, Adair Stratton. But with whispers of dark magic spreading, Adair starts to doubt The Academy is all it seems.

An unexpected visit ignites tensions between the realms and their little world is turned upside down. With the help of their other best friends Brokk and Memphis, Adair and Emory must untangle the lies, betrayals, hidden magic, and love that threaten to destroy everything they know.

Right away, it was clear that this was going to be a fast paced book. McCartney managed to take my breath away multiple times within the adrenaline inducing novel. I quickly found myself pulled into the world and invested in the lives of Emory, Adair, Brokk, and Memphis. The interconnected-ness of the characters made it easy to get sucked into their plans as if I was really there witnessing them firsthand. It also made it that much easier to jump between perspectives, making it clear who each narrator was and how they felt about any given situation.

The building tensions in this novel are almost palpable. McCartney was able to create a world wherein the characters and their emotions feel real enough as to almost be jumping off the page. In a world with such a fine line between magic and darkness, it was incredible to see the growth that Emory and the boys have already gone through. I can’t wait to read on and see where this story may take them.

Queen to Ashes by Mallory McCartney:

Emory has abandoned everything she thought she knew about her previous life. Stepping into her role as Queen of Kiero, Emory makes startling sacrifices in order to do what’s best for her people. When her memories slowly start to piece together, she realizes that the Mad King may not be as awful as he seems. With the King’s attention firmly on her, can Emory buy the Black Dawn Rebellion enough time to recuperate and fight back?

The characters that I got to know and love in Heir of Lies just continue to get more engaging and real. Their problems and motivations almost drip from the page and into real life. Their struggles have weight to them, their sacrifices have cost.

As a sucker for a good relationship, I enjoyed the way McCartney had the characters interact with each other. No relationship is easy, especially not one that exists while you’re fighting for the rights of your people. Whether we’re talking friendship relationships or romantic ones, every relationship takes work. McCartney does a fantastic job at showcasing this concept. And I, for one, can’t wait to read more about how these characters continue to grow and change together.

Reaper by Jonathan Pongratz: Gregory and his little sister Imogen love spending Halloween with their parents. But this year is special: if he can prove to his parents he can take care of Imogen by himself, he’ll finally have the allowance he’s dreamed of. But that was before the basement door opened on its own. Before the strange door appeared in the basement and the monster too Imogen away from him.

As I’d hoped, this horror novella was a fantastic way to start out my horror reads for the year. As a novella, this story needs to grip the reader’s attention right away – which it did – and keep it – which it does. The premise itself is interesting and it’s clear that, even given the shitty situation he finds himself in, Gregory is an amazing big brother who’s willing to do anything for his sister. Even when she’s getting on his nerves (like all good little sisters are wont to do). Reapers sound like terrifying monsters, I’m amazed that 13 year old Gregory is able to stand up to them.

The boogeyman is a horrifying concept as child, but can you imagine if they were real?

The Secret Girl by C.M. Stunich: Chuck/Charlie/Charlotte has a secret. One that she’ll do just about anything to keep. Being picked on for being the headmaster’s child is one thing, but being the only girl in a previously all boys school is another thing altogether. Charlotte might be their only female student, but she refuses to be their guinea pig – hence her dressing like a guy, cutting her hair short, forgoing the makeup she’s used to wearing, and dropping the contacts in favour for her glasses. But when there’s a secret at the school that nobody is talking about, Charlotte has bigger things to worry about than being a guinea pig.

This story is pretty much everything it promises to be. A secret girl at an all boys school, a bullying romance novel, and a reverse harlem teenage story all in one. If that’s what you’re looking for, chances are you’ll enjoy this read. While I found it repetitive at times, as the same information keeps getting thrown at the reader, I’ll admit that I read this entire book in one sitting. Right when I got to about the 40% mark, I’d planned on putting this story down for the night… but then it started to get good (to me at least). Instead of finishing the chapter I was reading and going to bed, I ended up staying up until about 3 in the morning to finish this story.

While this is certainly not the best story I’ve ever read, I will admit that I picked up the next story basically right away to see where the cliffhanger in this book would go.

The Ruthless Boys by C.M. Stunich: Charlotte finally knows the secret that the student council has known all along: Jenica Woodruff, the only girl to attend the academy before Charlotte, didn’t commit suicide. She was murdered. And it was covered up. Now someone is after Charlotte and no matter where she goes, the killer follows. While not an official member of the student council, Charlotte has been taken under their wing after everything they’ve been through together.

Picking up almost right where The Secret Girl left off, this story gave me everything the first book did – minus the slow start. I’m glad that the bullying is pretty much done at this point in the story – from the student council at least. While I know that this tale is marketed as a bullying romance, I’ll admit that’s not a trope I generally enjoy. Like Charlotte herself, it’s the reverse harem aspect of this story that drew me in.

This story is filled with bate and switches that, while predictable, are enjoyable to read. The mystery itself is able to capture my attention and make me wanting more. Thankfully the budding romances in this tale are not the only focus of the story. Jenica might be dead, but her story is far from over.

The Forever Crew by C.M. Stunich: Charlotte is officially dating the entire student council, a fact that her headmaster father isn’t thrilled with. Two students are dead at this point, and all signs point to Charlotte being next. Everyone is on her suspect list, even the very boys that she’s falling in love with. What’s a girl to do in a situation like this other than don the skirt she’d been refusing and show all of the haters that she’s not afraid of them? After all, it’s her final year in high school so she’s going to make the most of it.

This story is the final in the trilogy and was a fun read. While the raunchiness ramped up throughout the entire story – and if that’s what you’re reading these books for then you’ll love it – the plot in this book just wasn’t as strong to me as the first two novels. Charlotte and her boys are still trying to piece together the who and the why about who’s trying to kill her, but that plot seems to have taken a backseat to the romance within this story.

To a certain extent that makes sense – this is a contemporary reverse harlem romance novel after all – but the mystery in the background has now been teased for two books leading up to this, the finale. Personally, I wish that this story paid more focus to the murder mystery part of the story than it did as the mystery held so much promise.

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With my goal being to read 8-9 books a month, I’d say I did a pretty okay job at reaching it this month. While I still have a couple of books to read in order to catch up for the books I didn’t read in January, the 13 books I got through this month have made a dent in my goal to read 100 books by the end of the year. I’m up to 15/100 books for the year. Woohoo!

Finally, the question of the month: What was your favourite read in February?

One thought on “2021 February Wrap Up

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