February 2020 Reading Recap

Hey everyone! Today I’m talking about the books I read in the past month.  February was a pretty good reading month for me in general. I managed to complete five books, the same number of books I read in January, which I’m pretty happy with.

This post is really long, so let’s get straight into my thoughts:

Starsight by Brandon Sanderson

This was the first book I read this month, and also the only book I read during the first half of the month, which I’m a little disappointed by. One of my goals for this year is to get into a daily reading habit, which I have been working on this month, but I’m still having a little trouble figuring out what times work for me. So my reading suffered a little during the first half of the month.

It’s not the book’s fault at all, though. This book was incredible, as Brandon Sanderson’s books generally are. A lot of reviews I’ve seen on Goodreads and on the Internet in general have said that this second book wasn’t as good as Skyward, the first book in the series. The main complaint seems to be that this book feels like a totally different series in some ways, which I can understand—but I actually liked that aspect. I would say that Starsight was at least as good at Skyward, and actually, it might have even been better—but that’s coming from someone who desperately loves world-building.

I’m going to try to avoid spoilers as much as possible, but since this is a sequel, it’s going to be a little difficult. Very early on in the book, something happens that forces our main character to leave the planet where the first book was set and go to a different place, where we meet all new characters. People have complained that it kind of felt like a rehash of the training that happened in the first book, but with different characters, which I suppose is true. But, in my opinion, it was worth it. We got to meet a whole bunch of new characters who were not only interesting by themselves but also gave us a chance to encounter and learn about new cultures in this world. We got to see the main character, Spensa, and M-Bot, grow a lot in the face of this new situation.

And that ending… I’m so excited to see what happens next. Unfortunately, though, Brandon has said that the next book probably won’t be out until 2021 because he’s deep in the trenches on The Rhythm of War (Stormlight book 4, which I’m also excited about) and some other major projects.

The Black Prism by Brent Weeks

I read this book for the Series Crackdown readathon. It’s the first book in Brent Weeks’s Lightbringer series. It’s set in a world where people use different colors of light to do magic, and we’re following several different characters, including Gavin Guile, a man known as the Prism who is able to use all of the colors, and Kip, a boy from a small town in a part of the empire that was ravaged by a war several years ago and more or less forgotten.

I think when I talked about this book in my Series Crackdown TBR, I said it sounded similar to the magic system from Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson, and even though the two systems do have a lot to do with color, I have to admit that I was wrong. This magic system is not particularly similar to the one in Warbreaker, from what I can remember of it.

Of course, part of that impression could be because I still don’t fully understand exactly what the magic does. I understand some of it, of course, but I feel like I don’t know as much about the magic as I should at this point. I’m hoping that my lack of understanding is because I’m just obtuse or that it’ll be more fully explained in future books, but right now, I’m just kind of confused.

I felt that way with a lot of things in this book, actually. This book definitely felt like the first book to a series, which is fair, because it is. So many things were introduced in this book and then not fully explained or not explained at all. Because of that, the pacing felt off and overall, the book felt slow, with some jolts of high action during battle scenes.

In general, I did really enjoy this book, in spite of my qualms. I like the characters and I’m interested to learn more about their backstories and the world. There were some twists in this book that really surprised me, which I enjoyed. I do plan on reading the rest of the series at some point.

Sightwitch by Susan Dennard

This is the second book I read for the readathon I participated in this month. I read the whole thing in one day—which isn’t actually that impressive, since this book is well under 300 pages (240, according to Goodreads), but the fact that I read this whole book on the same day that I read the last 100 or 200 pages of The Black Prism makes it a little more impressive.

I loved this book. I can’t say much about it because it’s part of Susan Dennard’s Witchlands series, but it’s a prequel that gives us some insight into some of the side characters in the main series. It’s epistolary format, told mostly through the diary entries of various characters (though mostly through one specific character’s diary).

Epistolary books can sometimes be a hard sell for me, because while it allows for some really cool formatting (like in the Illuminae series, which I also loved), it also stretches my suspension of disbelief at times. I’ve kept a diary before, and I can assure you that my diary entries are not nearly as detailed as some of the entries included in this book. But that was really just a small annoyance. It didn’t bother me enough to dock any points.

Noughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackman

This is the last book I read for the readathon. It was also the group book for my team, Team Quartets. And, unfortunately, I didn’t like this book.

It’s set in a world where white people (called naughts in this world) are the lower-class citizens and black people (called Crosses) are the upper-class. We follow two characters—Sephy, who is a Cross, and Callum, who is a naught—in alternating chapters, watching as their worlds collide and a forbidden romance blossoms.

I don’t want to say I hated this book because it has a lot of really positive reviews, and I also think that its commentary on race is really important. And there were some parts of the book that were somewhat engaging. Unfortunately, that’s really the only thing I liked about this book.

The story is dual perspective, like I said, but if it wasn’t for the character’s name plastered at the top of every perspective switch, I would not have been able to tell them apart. Also, the perspective switched with dizzying frequency. The “chapters” were never longer than 3 or maybe 4 pages, and oftentimes they were only a few paragraphs long.

The writing within these “chapters” was boring. Nothing was described—or when it was described, it wasn’t done so well. The author spent a lot of time telling me how the characters were feeling rather than showing me. The pacing was also not great. The entire first half of the book was basically just the characters going through their daily lives. Which would be fine, if it wasn’t for my next point.

I didn’t care about any of the characters. They felt very flat. All of them, even the two main characters. People die in this book. That’s one of the few things that I liked about this book—the author was not shy at all about killing off her characters. The only problem was that, every time someone died, I felt nothing. The characters weren’t developed enough for me to care about them, and the survivors’ reactions to the deaths were lackluster at best, which made me care even less.

I could rant about this book for a while, but this post is already very long, so I’m just going to leave it there. To sum up: would not recommend, will almost certainly not be continuing with the series. The only reason I didn’t give it 1 star was because of the few redeeming qualities I mentioned above.

An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

This is the last book I read this month—I actually finished the audiobook about 30 minutes before I started writing this section. I still technically have many hours left in February, but I’ll be working for most of those hours, so I doubt I’ll be finishing anymore books.

I ended up enjoying this book! I don’t quite know what I’m rating it yet because, as I said, I just finished it, and I like to let books marinate for at least a couple of hours before I give them a final rating. However, I did really like it.

The audiobook’s narrator was great. I normally have a hard time getting into and sticking with audiobooks, but this one was very engaging. The writing was beautiful, and our main character is great. I appreciated her strength and her fierce love for her family.

The story was very well-paced. This book is one of those elusive fantasy standalones, and I think the author did a really good job of making it truly stand alone. I didn’t feel that there were any glaring loose ends.

The world was so interesting. I haven’t read a lot of faerie books (and the ones I have read, I didn’t love), but this book has made me think that maybe I should give more of them a try.

***

Overall, I had a pretty good reading month. There were definitely some ups and downs, but I’m excited to see where next month takes me.

That’s all I had for today’s post! Thank you so much for reading.

Let me know in the comments what books you read this month. Did you find any new faves?

I’ll see you next time!
-Ariel

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