Now that February is over, it’s time to reflect on the books I was able to read in the month! Despite being the shortest month of the ear, I was able to read 18 titles; without further ado, here are my reads and my thoughts!
Interment by Samira Ahmed
Rating: 4.25/5 Stars
Summary: Rebellions are built on hope.
Set in a horrifying near-future United States, seventeen-year-old Layla Amin and her parents are forced into an internment camp for Muslim American citizens.
With the help of newly made friends also trapped within the internment camp, her boyfriend on the outside, and an unexpected alliance, Layla begins a journey to fight for freedom, leading a revolution against the internment camp’s Director and his guards.
Heart-racing and emotional, Internment challenges readers to fight complicit silence that exists in our society today.
Thoughts: So this year, I’m in charge of organizing this year’s Tournament of Books for the Young Adult Services Forum of the Illinois Library Association (check out this year’s tournament here). Anyways, Internment is one of the titles in contention, and it peaked my interest. This one is certainly haunting because the events described in it can and have happened in the past in this country. While the storyline wasn’t exactly done in the best way to make the story most effective, I’d definitely recommend it.
Readalikes: We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia, The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline, The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken
Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Summary: Bryan Stevenson was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system. One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young man who was sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didn’t commit. The case drew Bryan into a tangle of conspiracy, political machination, and legal brinksmanship—and transformed his understanding of mercy and justice forever.
Just Mercy is at once an unforgettable account of an idealistic, gifted young lawyer’s coming of age, a moving window into the lives of those he has defended, and an inspiring argument for compassion in the pursuit of true justice.
Thoughts: I really thought I was going to love this one because of the obvious hype it’s received by both professional reviewers and people’s opinions whom I trust and it was good…just not great. There were lots of important and serious subjects covered, but honestly they didn’t pull me in and it took me much longer to read than anticipated.
Readalikes: The Sun Does Shine by Anthony Ray Hinton, Gang Leader for a Day by Sudhir Venkatesh, Convicting the Innocent by Stanley Cohen
Bone Parish, Vol. 3 by Cullen Bunn & Jonas Scharf
Rating: 3/5 Stars
Summary: The acclaimed necromantic horror series reaches its final chapter as the gang war blows wide open on the streets of New Orleans.
Every high has its comedown, and the Winters family is in for a rude awakening. Once the innovator and sole dealer of the new necromantic drug that’s all the rage on the streets of New Orleans, they have since come under siege by rivals on all sides trying to steal the market for themselves. And while the family has suffered heavy losses to this point, there’s more to come before in the harsh light of morning…
Thoughts: This was honestly a very disappointing ending to the series- I absolutely loved the first volume, but everything really went downhill from there and it never lived up to the potential. I don’t know where the creators plan to go from here, but after this volume I’m not sure I’ll follow.
Readalikes: Blood Colony by Tananarive Due, Gangsta by Kohske, Moonshine by Brian Azzarello & Eduardo Risso
Kim & Kim, Vol. 3: Oh S#!t, It’s Kim & Kim by Magdalene Visaggio, Eva Cabrera, & Claudia Aguirre
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Summary: The Fighting Kims are back! Kim & Kim trade their denim vests and spiked chokers for tuxes and gowns as they infiltrate the glitzy space colony of Santa Palma to try and con a master thief. But, as usual, everything goes to hell… and it’s definitely Kim Q’s fault. Come on, Kim. Get your life together.
Thoughts: I love this series, and this is undoubtedly my favorite installment so far! I loved seeing more of the Kims’ relationship, and I was really thrilled to see more about other family relationships and friendships. I can’t wait for the next volume, and I truly love this writing and drawing team!
Readalikes: Bitch Planet by Kelly Sue Deconnick, Valentine De Landro, & Robert Wilson IV, Cosmoknights by Hannah Templer, Grease Bats by Archie Bongiovianni
Persuasion by Jane Austen
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Summary: Twenty-seven-year old Anne Elliot is Austen’s most adult heroine. Eight years before the story proper begins, she is happily betrothed to a naval officer, Frederick Wentworth, but she precipitously breaks off the engagement when persuaded by her friend Lady Russell that such a match is unworthy. The breakup produces in Anne a deep and long-lasting regret. When later Wentworth returns from sea a rich and successful captain, he finds Anne’s family on the brink of financial ruin and his own sister a tenant in Kellynch Hall, the Elliot estate. All the tension of the novel revolves around one question: Will Anne and Wentworth be reunited in their love?
Thoughts: I picked this audiobook as my Valentine’s Day read because I’ve loved every adaptation of this book that I’ve seen, and I needed a comforting HEA ending after the tough books I’d been reading before…and this one delivered. The longing portrayed in this one was beautiful and frustrating, and the narrator was perfect for this title. Hopefully she does more Austen titles, because this one was a perfect experience.
Readalikes: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, North & South by Elizabeth Gaskell
The Hand on the Wall by Maureen Johnson
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Summary: Ellingham Academy must be cursed. Three people are now dead. One, a victim of either a prank gone wrong or a murder. Another, dead by misadventure. And now, an accident in Burlington has claimed another life. All three in the wrong place at the wrong time. All at the exact moment of Stevie’s greatest triumph . . .
She knows who Truly Devious is. She’s solved it. The greatest case of the century.
At least, she thinks she has. With this latest tragedy, it’s hard to concentrate on the past. Not only has someone died in town, but David disappeared of his own free will and is up to something. Stevie is sure that somehow—somehow—all these things connect. The three deaths in the present. The deaths in the past. The missing Alice Ellingham and the missing David Eastman. Somewhere in this place of riddles and puzzles there must be answers.
Then another accident occurs as a massive storm heads toward Vermont. This is too much for the parents and administrators. Ellingham Academy is evacuated. Obviously, it’s time for Stevie to do something stupid. It’s time to stay on the mountain and face the storm—and a murderer.
Thoughts: So I was sucked into this series when the first title came out, and I guess this was an okay end to it. A lot of storylines and issues were conveniently wrapped up (and not super plausibly, might I add), so that definitely hampered my enjoyment. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the series and at times this installment was a real page turner, but I had hoped for more.
Readalikes: A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro, The Diviners by Libba Bray, Killing November by Adriana Mather
Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Summary: England, 1879. Annabelle Archer, the brilliant but destitute daughter of a country vicar, has earned herself a place among the first cohort of female students at the renowned University of Oxford. In return for her scholarship, she must support the rising women’s suffrage movement. Her charge: recruit men of influence to champion their cause. Her target: Sebastian Devereux, the cold and calculating Duke of Montgomery who steers Britain’s politics at the Queen’s command. Her challenge: not to give in to the powerful attraction she can’t deny for the man who opposes everything she stands for.
Sebastian is appalled to find a suffragist squad has infiltrated his ducal home, but the real threat is his impossible feelings for green-eyed beauty Annabelle. He is looking for a wife of equal standing to secure the legacy he has worked so hard to rebuild, not an outspoken commoner who could never be his duchess. But he wouldn’t be the greatest strategist of the Kingdom if he couldn’t claim this alluring bluestocking without the promise of a ring…or could he?
Locked in a battle with rising passion and a will matching her own, Annabelle will learn just what it takes to topple a duke….
Thoughts: I picked this up after seeing it all over bookstagram, and it was a really fun ride! I don’t read a great deal of historical romances, but I enjoyed it (even though the romance and the relationship definitely got a little tired). Also the feminist angle wasn’t fully explored to my satisfaction, but this definitely was a good start to the series and I’ll definitely pick up the next one!
Readalikes: The Luckiest Lady in London by Sherry Thomas, The Wallflower Wager by Tessa Dare, How to Love a Duke in Ten Days by Kerrigan Byrne
West With the Night by Beryl Markham
Rating: 2/5 Stars
Summary: Beryl Markham’s life story is a true epic. Not only did she set records and break barriers as a pilot, she shattered societal expectations, threw herself into torrid love affairs, survived desperate crash landings—and chronicled everything. A contemporary of Karen Blixen (better known as Isak Dinesen, the author of Out of Africa), Markham left an enduring memoir that soars with astounding candor and shimmering insights.
A rebel from a young age, the British-born Markham was raised in Kenya’s unforgiving farmlands. She trained as a bush pilot at a time when most Africans had never seen a plane. In 1936, she accepted the ultimate challenge: to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean from east to west, a feat that fellow female aviator Amelia Earhart had completed in reverse just a few years before. Markham’s successes and her failures—and her deep, lifelong love of the “soul of Africa”—are all told here with wrenching honesty and agile wit.
Hailed as “one of the greatest adventure books of all time” by Newsweek and “the sort of book that makes you think human beings can do anything” by the New York Times, West with the Night remains a powerful testament to one of the iconic lives of the twentieth century.
Thoughts: This one was just not…good. The individual stories weren’t compiled in a cohesive way, it clearly read of embellishments, and it was definitely hard to follow at times (would it have killed them to include a map of Africa at that time???). Some of the stories and adventures were gripping, but the whole of its parts were thoroughly underwhelming.
Readalikes: Fly Girls by Keith O’Brien, A Woman in Arabia by Gertrude Bell, Circling the Sun by Paula McLain
Magnificient Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1: Destined by Saladin Ahmed & Minkyu Jung
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Summary: Ms. Marvel is back – and she’s magnificent! But there’s no such thing as business as usual in Jersey City. Aliens are wreaking havoc in Kamala’s corner of the world, and they seem weirdly interested in Ms. Marvel…and her family! Kamala is about to face a devastating loss – but with an alien invasion ravaging her neighborhood, she’s not going to have much time to grieve. Even if Kamala saves her hometown, will her life ever be the same? And what’s all this business about a “Chosen One”? Eisner Award-winner Saladin Ahmed (BLACK BOLT, EXILES) and rising star Minkyu Jung take the reins of one of Marvel’s most beloved new characters, with the shocking start of an all-new era!
Thoughts: I didn’t read the full run of G. Willow Wilson’s Ms. Marvel (fun fact: Ms. Marvel Vol. 1 was my first graphic novel I read for fun!), so I wasn’t sure what to expect…especially considering it has been 4+ years since I read that series! Nonetheless, this was an absolutely lovely volume and I really din’t feel too lost in the story. This could stand seperate from the overarching Ms. Marvel storyline, which is honestly refreshing for a Marvel/DC title. I’m excited for the next volume, and I think it’s safe to say I’ll pick up any graphic novel by Saladin Ahmed.
Readalikes: Black Bolt by Saladin Ahmed & Christian Ward, She-Hulk by Mariko Tamaki & Nico Leon, Captain Marvel by Kelly Sue DeConnick & David Lopez
Morning in America by Magdalene Visaggio & Claudia Aguirre
Rating: 2.5/5 Stars
Summary: It’s 1983, and when mysterious monsters start overtaking a small town in Ohio, it’s up to a teenage girl gang to save the day in this new story for fans of Paper Girls and Stranger Things.
Created by powerhouse team Magdalene Visaggio (Eternity Girl) and Claudia Aguirre (Kim & Kim), Morning in America follows the Sick Sisters, a group of friends and small-time delinquents who may be the only people standing between their suffocatingly small town and complete apocalyptic destruction. The Sisters know there’s something wrong in Tucker, Ohio—and they also know that the authorities aren’t doing anything about it. When the girls take the investigation into their own hands, they run into wild conspiracy theories, abandoned homes… and something that screeches in the night. At the end of the world, four girls with bikes and baseball bats are there to stand in the way.
Thoughts: I picked this up because I absolutely love the creators (hello, Kim & Kim), but it was just incredibly underwhelming. The story never really materialized and the only bright spot were the friendships…and even those weren’t fully fleshed out. Honestly, it was overall just painful to finish.
Readalikes: Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughan, Cliff Chiang, & Matt Wilson, Stranger Things by Jody Houser, Stefano Martino, & Keith Champagne, Heavy Vinyl by Carly Usdin & Nina Vakueva
Amazons, Abolitionists, and Activists: A Graphic History of Women’s Fight for Their Rights by Mikki Kendall & A. D’Amico
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Summary: The ongoing struggle for women’s rights has spanned human history, touched nearly every culture on Earth, and encompassed a wide range of issues, such as the right to vote, work, get an education, own property, exercise bodily autonomy, and beyond. Amazons, Abolitionists, and Activists is a fun and fascinating graphic novel-style primer that covers the key figures and events that have advanced women’s rights from antiquity to the modern era. In addition, this compelling book illuminates the stories of notable women throughout history–from queens and freedom fighters to warriors and spies–and the progressive movements led by women that have shaped history, including abolition, suffrage, labor, civil rights, LGBTQ liberation, reproductive rights, and more. Examining where we’ve been, where we are, and where we’re going, Amazons, Abolitionists, and Activists is an indispensable resource for people of all genders interested in the fight for a more liberated future.
Thoughts: This is definitely a good introduction to women’s rights movements and women throughout the ages, but I wasn’t the biggest fan of the art and had honestly hoped for more in-depth information. I love history and was a history major, so I’ve read many “women in history” titles, so I was hoping for more in general; nonetheless, this is a very good primer for teens and people starting out in women’s history or women’s studies.
Readalikes: Brazen by Penelope Bagieu, Here We Are edited by Kelly Jensen, She the People by Jen Deaderick & Rita Sapunor
El Deafo by Cece Bell
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Summary: Starting at a new school is scary, even more so with a giant hearing aid strapped to your chest! At her old school, everyone in Cece’s class was deaf. Here she is different. She is sure the kids are staring at the Phonic Ear, the powerful aid that will help her hear her teacher. Too bad it also seems certain to repel potential friends.
Then Cece makes a startling discovery. With the Phonic Ear she can hear her teacher not just in the classroom, but anywhere her teacher is in school — in the hallway… in the teacher’s lounge… in the bathroom! This is power. Maybe even superpower! Cece is on her way to becoming El Deafo, Listener for All. But the funny thing about being a superhero is that it’s just another way of feeling different… and lonely. Can Cece channel her powers into finding the thing she wants most, a true friend?
Thoughts: I honestly cannot believe that it took me so long to read this title. I was sucked in by the gorgeous (and simple) illustrations and it wouldn’t let me go once I got to the story. I absolutely loved this one and was really sad when it ended honestly. I’d recommend this for anyone of any age- it’s truly a beautiful story.
Readalikes: Smile by Raina Telgemeier, Real Friends by Shannon Hale & LeUyen Pham, Hereville by Barry Deutsch & Jake Richmond
GLOW vs. the Star Primas by Tini Howard & Hannah Templer
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Summary: When the unthinkable happens and the women of GLOW find themselves ahead of schedule, Sam ruins the promise of a wrestling-free weekend with… more wrestling! Robbed of blissful relaxation and forced to raise money to fund their way to the event, the GLOW team is less-than-prepared for their opponents: real gorgeous lady wrestlers. What could possibly go wrong?! Zoya the Destroya, Liberty Belle, and the rest of your favorite Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling take to the pages for new fights, new tights, and new drama!
Thoughts: This one is very faithful to the show (seriously though, I could really see them popping in this storyline seamlessly). I loved the art (hello, it’s Hannah Templer from Cosmoknights so of course I was gonna love it), but mostly it was just meh in my opinion.
Readalikes: Stranger Things by Jody Houser, Stefano Martino, & Keith Champagne, Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughan, Cliff Chiang, & Matt Wilson, The Avant-Guards by Carly Usdin & Noah Hayes
Shortcake Cake Vol. 1 & 2 by Suu Morishita
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Summary: When Ten moves out of her parents’ home in the mountains to live in a boardinghouse, she finds herself becoming fast friends with her male roommates. But can love and romance be far behind?
Ten Serizawa has a two-hour commute through the mountains to high school every day, so she can’t spend much time hanging out with her friends in the afternoon. She decides to move into the local boardinghouse, where one of her friends and three other boys are living. Ten’s friends consider her to be as oblivious as a rock when it comes to noticing boys and falling in love, but will she be able to keep her calm and steady heart in her new living situation?
Thoughts: I’ve been meaning to pick up this series for awhile and despite the slightly unbelievable plot, this has been fun so far! I love a good love triangle so I’m here for that angle, and I requested more volumes to read!
Readalikes: Ao Haru Ride by Io Sakisaka, Honey So Sweet by Amu Meguro, Sand Chronicles by Hinako Ashihara
Truth or Beard by Penny Reid
Rating: 3/5 Stars
Summary: Identical twins Beau and Duane Winston might share the same devastatingly handsome face, but where Beau is outgoing and sociable, Duane is broody and reserved. This is why Jessica James, recent college graduate and perpetual level-headed good girl, has been in naïve and unhealthy infatuation with Beau Winston for most of her life.
His friendly smiles make her tongue-tied and weak-kneed, and she’s never been able to move beyond her childhood crush. Whereas Duane and Jessica have always been adversaries. She can’t stand him, and she’s pretty sure he can’t stand the sight of her…
But after a case of mistaken identity, Jessica finds herself in a massive confusion kerfuffle. Jessica James has spent her whole life paralyzed by the fantasy of Beau and her assumptions of Duane’s disdain; therefore she’s unprepared for the reality that is Duane’s insatiable interest, as well as his hot hands and hot mouth and hotter looks. Not helping Jessica’s muddled mind and good girl sensibilities, Duane seems to have gotten himself in trouble with the local biker gang, the Iron Order.
Certainly, Beau’s magic spell is broken. Yet when Jessica finds herself drawn to the man who was always her adversary, now more dangerous than ever, how much of her level-head heart is she willing to risk?
Thoughts: This book was definitely far too long. I found myself enjoying parts of it, and there was some good slow burn buildup, but a lot of the plot points seemed extraneous. The only reason it is a 3 instead of a 2.5 star rating is because I really enjoyed the female narrator. I’m not inclined to continue in the series.
Readalikes: Happy Trail by Daisy Prescott, Baking Me Crazy by Karla Sorenson, That Second Chance by Meghan Quinn
Go With the Flow by Lily Williams & Karen Schneemann
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Summary: Good friends help you go with the flow. Best friends help you start a revolution.
Sophomores Abby, Brit, Christine, and Sasha are fed up. Hazelton High never has enough tampons. Or pads. Or adults who will listen.
Sick of an administration that puts football before female health, the girls confront a world that shrugs―or worse, squirms―at the thought of a menstruation revolution. They band together to make a change. It’s no easy task, especially while grappling with everything from crushes to trig to JV track but they have each other’s backs. That is, until one of the girls goes rogue, testing the limits of their friendship and pushing the friends to question the power of their own voices.
Now they must learn to work together to raise each other up. But how to you stand your ground while raising bloody hell?
Thoughts: I picked this one up because the authors/artists were going to be at C2E2 the same time I was, and it really didn’t disappoint! This is such a necessary read for guys, gals, and nonbinary pals, and I truly wish I had it as a teen (since I deal with PCOS and didn’t realize the symptoms and thought really terrible things about myself because of it???). Anyways, between the minimalist color palette, the art, and the strong portrayal of female friendships, I absolutely adored this one.
Readalikes: Watch Us Rise by Renee Watson & Ellen Hagan, The Plain Janes by Cecil Castellucci & Jim Rugg, Girls Can’t Hit by T.S. Easton
Takane & Hana, Vol. 12 by Yuki Shiwasu
Rating: 2.5/5 Stars
Summary: After her older sister refuses to go to an arranged marriage meeting with Takane Saibara, the heir to a vast business fortune, high schooler Hana Nonomura agrees to be her stand-in to save face for the family. But when Takane and Hana pair up, get ready for some sparks to fly between these two utter opposites!
A hospitalized Takane drops a major bombshell on Hana, and she doesn’t know if he’s serious or not! In typical Takane form, he overdoes things, and Hana is at a loss as to how she should deal with the news. Could some advice from love rival Rino actually help?
Thoughts: After the insanity of the previous volume, I didn’t have high hopes for this and truly, it was okay. The story was pretty scattered and it felt like a filler volume between storylines. I hope the next one gets to the action, or I’m not sure I’ll continue in the series.
Readalikes: My Love Story!! by Kazune Kawahara, Last Game by Shinobu Amano, Happy Marriage?! by Maki Enjōji
I didn’t manage to read a book off my backlist TBR list for yet another month (which can be found here), but overall I’m still on track to complete my GR goal of 200 books this year!
My favorite book I read this month? El Deafo by Cece Bell!
What did you read (and love) in February? Share them in the comments below!
Until next time…