Here’s a look at what I read in January/February and part of March 2020. It’s difficult for me to post individual reviews for everything I read, so I’m going to give quarterly, seasonal wrap ups a try this year. A sort of list, with mini-reviews of what I’ve read recently. Do let me know if you have any thoughts on the books I mention!

The following are *mostly* spoiler-free. This list does not include books I cast into the DNF (did not finish) pile. If the copy I read was an ARC (advance reader copy) vs. a finished copy, that’ll be stated.


Aurora Rising (The Aurora Cycle #1) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
My rating: 5 stars
My thoughts: Wow, “holy cake,” as Aurora would say. This is one of my new favorites and I am so glad I waited to read this until I had an ARC of book 2 on hand so I could dive right in to the next. This author duo (same pair that wrote Illuminae, also awesome) knows how to tell an amazing story, craft characters that you care for, pine for, or hate. The elements of adventure, suspense, wit, and romantic entanglements are all there throughout this sci-fi. I seriously love this squad and wish I could write like this. Also, an alien race of elvish-like people in space? Yes, please. This book is everything.

Aurora Burning (The Aurora Cycle #2) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
My rating: 5 stars
My thoughts: Just as amazing as the first book, and a direct continuation. Thank the book gods I was able to read one right after the other (was lucky to have an ARC). However, I was then left with a major book hangover and wallowing in despair that I have to now wait probably a whole year for the third book. This is the problem with reading a series as they get published. This one was full of many twists and turns, high stakes, deeper backstories, more intense scenes, and it left off on a major cliffhanger, and I just… *sigh*

All the Stars and Teeth by Adalyn Grace
My rating: 4 stars
My thoughts: A solid read that did hold my attention despite having to read it in spurts during a busy week of travel. I’d probably have been even more engrossed otherwise. There was… tons of blood and a gruesome magic system. Definitely… different. I loved the whole journey across the kingdom with a pirate and there were many interesting places/customs/dress etc. I did enjoy certain storytelling tools, like the flashbacks, in order to glean more history, and appreciated that the protagonist reached her goal but not without experiencing some serious loss.

Electric Forest by Tanith Lee
My rating: 3 stars
My thoughts: I’ve read some pretty fantastic books by Tanith Lee, but this one was not my favorite. It was only a 4-hour read, so it felt like a novella, but it was all a little… fucked up, for lack of better words. The closing chapter was all like “oh, haha, it was actually all just a setup, nothing was real,” but um, I didn’t even understand much of it to begin with and what I did I didn’t really enjoy. Maybe there was a generational dissonance? It was written in the 70s… I think part of it is because I didn’t care much for any of the characters, though I did pity some of them. Still, some of Tanith Lee’s beautiful and wild descriptions of environment shone through. She is a wonderful writer, but this story just wasn’t for me.

We Are Not Free by Traci Chee
My rating: 5 stars
My thoughts: I don’t think I’ve ever read a YA historical novel before this, but this one was truly powerful! It made quite an impression on me and I learned so much more about the time in the 1940s when 100k people of Japanese ancestry were removed from their homes and forced into incarceration camps than I had ever learned in school. It was written with 14 different POVs, which is a lot and almost too many to follow, but it worked. It really gave me, as a reader, a good feel for what it must have been like for teens going through that. This book was heartbreaking, but so well written. These kids really came alive on the page and the racism and injustice they’re faced with is still relevant to the times we live in now, unfortunately. Everyone should read this book.

The Circus Rose by Betsy Cornwell
My rating: 3 stars
My thoughts: I thought this was going to be one of those ARCs that I’d DNF after my initial 30-minute screening, but it was going by fast and I decided to just sit and finish it. 3-hours later, I was left with an overall “meh” feeling. I liked it less and less as it went on. It was supposed to be inspired by Snow White but I didn’t see any retelling threads at all really. Some of the characters were mildly interesting, but then what circus people aren’t? I felt there were many lax plot plateaus and areas where it simply seemed patched together. It was a brief, mildly entertaining read with a lot of weirdness, but I didn’t love it.

Bid My Soul Farewell (Give the Dark My Love #2) by Beth Revis
My rating: 3
My thoughts: This was a sequel, so I was curious to see where it would go, but it was “meh.” It was really gory (for me) and that’s where it lost me the most. Just so much… dismemberment *shudder*. I found it very hard to empathize with the main character and the twist at the end was a bit predictable after the halfway point. This author can write, and on a sentence-level I enjoy her work, but I did not love this plot or these characters.

The Fiery Cross (Outlander #5) by Diana Gabaldon
My rating: 4 stars
My thoughts: I’ve been reading this “on the side” for 2 months and tbh, I’m still working my way through the last hundred pages as I write this, but I’ve included it here because I WILL finish it before the spring equinox, dammit! This 970+ page book is looong, and though I do enjoy this series immensely, it’s hard for me to keep up the momentum of reading through these bible-thin pages because you read for an hour but feel you’re not making any progress. I’ve found this one to be a bit more long-winded and meandering than some of the others so far, but still, I do love these characters so much that I cannot help it. These books have become part of me these past few years. Can’t wait to watch season 5 of the show very soon. And also, holy sh*t, Roger!


Average is the New Awesome by Samantha Matt
My rating: 4.5 stars
My thoughts: I feel like I underlined half of this book during passages where I was nodding along, laughing out loud, or wanting to remind myself to reread later. It left me feeling like I really am actually doing pretty OK in life. It’s funny, honest, sooo relatable on many levels, and written in a fun, witty tone. There’s a whole section on “how to cancel plans last minute without being an asshole.” Need I say more? I’ve selected it for the Greatist Reads book club pick this spring.

Judgement Detox by Gabrielle Bernstein
My rating: 4.5 stars
My thoughts: I’m a major fan of all Gabby’s work, and this one had been on my TBR for a while. It was a bit daunting because there are lots of exercises and homework in this one, but I read through and did what parts I felt were of use to me right now. I gained a lot of understanding from it and have put a few new daily things into practice. Overall, it left me with a better awareness of judgement, where it comes from, when to recognize it, and how to deal with judgement from others and myself. I’d recommend it to everyone, though you really have to want to do this type of inner work. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.

The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher
My rating: How does one rate a memoir by one of your favorite icons, now deceased? I don’t feel I can, really…
My thoughts: Although, after getting to know her a bit better throughout this memoir, I think she’d like me to rate her book just as I would anyone else. So, I give this book 3.75 stars. I didn’t entirely vibe with all of her humor or remarks but some things really did make me laugh. I was undoubtedly fascinated, that’s for sure. She wrote of her years during the filming of the first Star Wars movies, when she was 19 and just starting out, and having an affair with Harrison Ford. She includes some actual diary pages from things she wrote back then, some quite deep and poetic. I was surprised to find many of her sentiments relatable. She was a normal young woman going through an extraordinary human experience.

Untamed by Glennon Doyle
My rating: 5 (big) stars
My thoughts: Where even to begin? This book reached into the depths of my soul and brought forth so many emotions. It even brought me to tears several times. It’s one of the most raw/real/honest memoirs I’ve read in a long time. It was PACKED with 65 short essays/micro nonfiction pieces that could mostly be read individually, but did read as a whole chronologically. She touched on pretty much every important thing I can think of that’s of utmost importance to being human, especially as a woman. I added 38 sticky flags and will likely reread this again soon. She doesn’t shy away from the tough stuff and most of life is tough stuff isn’t it? How she shared her experiences was beautiful, relatable, and provoked lots of thought/empathy/love. There’s also a fantastic video of Marie Forleo interviewing Glennon Doyle that I’d recommend watching.

Onward into spring!

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