February 2020 Reading Wrap-Up

Okay, I realize this wrap-up is super late.  As it turns out, the world is falling into chaos and it’s been a bit difficult to keep up with writing.  That said, however, I still wanted an opportunity to wrap up everything that I read in February.  I’ve had a decent reading year and I’m finding all kinds of new favorite books, so I want to make sure that everything I have been loving ends up mentioned in my blog.  Therefore, here is a brief overview of everything that I read during the month of February.

This Is Where It Ends – Marieke Nijkamp

Rating – 1 Star

It’s never a great sign when my month starts off with a one star read.  I have wanted to read This Is Where It Ends since I was a teenager, and honestly, I probably would have enjoyed it if I had read it back then.  Unfortunately, this didn’t work for me as an adult.  It was far too short for the number of plotlines that were weaved in, and I didn’t feel like the central topic, a school shooting, was adequately handled with the level of sensitivity that was needed.  At best, the characters in the book behaved unrealistically, and at worst, they behaved in a way that would actually put real-life teens in danger if they were to try and imitate what is portrayed in the story during a real shooting.  Overall, I didn’t enjoy this one at all and wish I could unread it.

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing – Hank Green

Rating – 5 Stars

I put off reading An Absolutely Remarkable Thing for the dumbest reason:  I don’t like John Green’s writing style.  After a while, I realized that there is no reason to believe John and Hank write in a similar manner, so I decided to pick up this science fiction title.  Given my five star rating, I am incredibly happy I gave this a try.  The central mystery surrounding these strange statues that pop up, trying to figure out what they do and why they exist, is compelling and kept me engaged from the very first page.  There is a sequel coming out later this year and I will pick it up on day one, for sure!

Solo – Kwame Alexander

Rating – 3 Stars

I tend to believe that three star ratings are reserved for books that I enjoyed, but don’t necessarily think I will remember in great detail after reading.  Solo turns out to be a perfect example of this, as I could barely remember what it was about immediately after finishing it, much less several months later.  This is a young adult novel in verse, and while I think Kwame Alexander is a talented writer and I would like to pick up more from him in the future, this story did not engage me in any way.  In particular, I was not invested in any of the characters, and as a character-focused reader, this is not a good sign for how much the book will resonate with me after finishing it.

Down Among the Sticks and Bones – Seanan McGuire

Rating – 5 Stars

I read several Wayward Children books this month, as this wrap-up will show, but Down Among the Sticks and Bones is my favorite entry in this portal fantasy series so far.  This title is a prequel that details the background of two characters from the first book, Jack and Jill.  While technically the second entry in the series, this can be read standalone if Every Heart a Doorway doesn’t interest readers.  Personally, I find that the series alternates between an ongoing narrative in odd-numbered titles and backstory prequels in the even-numbered titles, and I find the backstories to be far stronger than the primary narrative.

Beneath the Sugar Sky – Seanan McGuire

Rating – 3 Stars

Immediately after wrapping up Down Among the Sticks and Bones, I moved onto book three of the Wayward Children series, Beneath the Sugar Sky.  As I stated above, this continues the main narrative from the first book in the series, and this is probably the weakest entry for me so far.  I didn’t find the characters introduced to be interesting, and the primary world that the characters visit wasn’t particularly engaging for me, as it just felt like a less interesting Alice in Wonderland.  Since these books are really short, I keep reading them, but I could see a point in the future where I stick to just reading the backstories and skip the ongoing narrative entries.

Elantris – Brandon Sanderson

Rating – 5 Stars

I have done it.  After staring at Brandon Sanderson’s books for years and working up the courage to pick up his massive tomes, I finally finished one.  This was, by far, my favorite read of the month, so it did not disappoint.  I’m participating in a year-long journey to read the majority of Sanderson’s Cosmere universe, so expect many more Brandon Sanderson reads to come in my future.  Overall, I know a lot of people said that this standalone fantasy is a bit of a rough work compared to the author’s later novels, but I still really enjoyed every aspect of this.  The plot kept moving constantly and had some great twists and turns, every major character was well-developed and engaging, and the setting and atmosphere almost reminded me of a horror novel.  Overall, I’m glad I made the choice to read more of the Cosmere this year because I am just devouring Sanderson’s works.

In an Absent Dream – Seanan McGuire

Rating – 4 Stars

This is the final Wayward Children book that I read in February, and this entry returns to the backstory formula, telling the story of Lundy and the fantasy world that she walked into as a child.  While I will admit that I wasn’t interested in the overall premise of the Goblin Market, this book surprised me with how interesting I found the overall story.  Again, I feel like a broken record here, but the fact that I still haven’t picked up book five to this date just shows that I have a strong preference for the backstory books in this series.  Maybe book five will prove me wrong, but I’m not hopeful.

The Hope of Elantris – Brandon Sanderson

Rating – 4 Stars

Immediately after finishing Elantris, I knew that I needed more from this world.  While sequels might be coming out for this current standalone in the future, for the moment, all I could do was pick up The Hope of Elantris and a separate novella (stay tuned for a future wrap-up to hear about this one) to learn a little more about the universe.  This is a really short story that gives a little more context to an event that happens partway through the novel, so there isn’t a lot that I can say.  Is it anything super special?  No, but it was a lot of fun and I had a huge smile on my face for the whole time that I was reading it.

Pumpkinheads – Rainbow Rowell

Rating – 4 Stars

Finally, to wrap up the month, I read Pumpkinheads, which is a young adult graphic novel about two teenagers who work at a pumpkin patch on their last day of work before they go off to college.  The artwork here is the highlight of the book, as it has a cartoon-style feel that is really engaging and fun to read.  It definitely has some emotional moments, but also a lot of comedic adventures that kept me smiling.  I flew through this graphic novel and had a ton of fun with it.

That’s it for my February 2020 wrap-up!  Once I’m caught up to the current month, I hope to start putting my wrap-ups out closer to when I initially read the books, since that will make for better overall reviews.  As I venture out into adult fantasy a little more, I would also like to make more dedicated reviews with spoiler and non-spoiler sections, as I think it could be fun to discuss some of these huge tomes in greater detail.

Have you read any of these books?  Let me know in the comments below!

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