Top Books of February

February has been a crazy month for me on all fronts! I’ve been ramping up work in my Masters and I’ve also been trying to improve my blog and bookstagram presence. I also really wanted to make a dent in my eARC pile … but that hasn’t gone as well as I wanted. However, I did read some fantastic books and I wanted to take the time to highlight some of the awesome reads!

Top Books:                      


Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor 

This was hands-down an absolutely wonderful read. There is no better book to describe the genre of fantasy than this one. If you haven’t already read my previous post where I gushed about it, well, I really had no complaints about this one. I loved the characters, as they were just so unique and vividly portrayed; they literally leaped off the page! The story was also extremely interesting, with great-building. If you are an avid lover of fantasy, then this is not a book you want to miss! It may be long, but it is well worth the effort!



Furyborn by Claire Legrand

This was an eARC that I received from Edelweiss and Sourcebooks Fire (publisher) and I am so glad I got the chance to read it! It’s got 2 badass female protagonists (you know that’s my weakness) and tons of action to keep any reader interested! Also, I really liked the romance in this novel; it made sense and wasn’t too dramatic (and this is high praise from me!). This is the first in a series, and I’m excited to see where the story is going to go from here.


33918881The Heart Forger by Rin Chupeco 

This eARC (thanks Edelweiss and Sourcebooks Fire) has been super high on my TBR list because I absolutely adored The Bone Witch (first book in the series); this book was different in terms of its focus because it was plot-driven rather than detail-oriented but it still delivered on intrigue and I devoured it in one day!



32920226Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward 

Unlike the other novels I’ve mentioned above, this is a very sobering story that uses magical realism to explore the themes of grief and slavery. Through alternating narratives from a mother and her son, we read about how memories can haunt people. This was a vivid and haunting story that kept me up all night. It is a very thought-provoking story and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys literary fiction.



34913737The King of Bones and Ashes by J.D. Horn 

This was a slower paced supernatural novel that I really enjoyed. This ARC was by an author who is known for his stories about witches but this was my first time reading anything by him. With tons of characters and a plot that intensified with every chapter, fans of supernatural fiction would really enjoy this book!



28096541The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed 

This novel packs all the punches as it tackles the issues of consent, rape, sexual assault, and stigma – and these are just a few of the topics! It was powerfully charged and I was amazed at the way the author managed to weave a story while handling such explosive content. This is a novel I would like everyone to read because it is just so relevant for our society.



35390279 The Night Child by Anna Quinn

This was a novel that was unexpectedly dark but very good. It deals with a very serious topic: child abuse. It was an emotionally evocative story and I found myself really connecting with the characters in the story. This is a short read but it does justice to the issues it addresses. If you can handle the content, then this is a very good psychological novel.



These were the novels that really stuck out in my mind from this month! I wish I had been able to read more books and meet all of my reading goals, but I’m glad I took the time to get to these gems!

How did your February book haul go? What were your most memorable books of the month? Comment and let me know! 


The King of Bones and Ashes by J. D. Horn

Books that involve witchcraft or covens are my thing. I will literally devour any book that mentions the word “witch” in it because I am THAT obsessed! I’m so glad I got to read an ARC of this book because it was such a fantastic read and fulfilled my need for dark stories!


Summary (Goodreads): Magic is seeping out of the world, leaving the witches who’ve relied on it for countless centuries increasingly hopeless. While some see an inevitable end of their era, others are courting madness—willing to sacrifice former allies, friends, and family to retain the power they covet. While the other witches watch their reality unravel, young Alice Marin is using magic’s waning days to delve into the mystery of numerous disappearances in the occult circles of New Orleans. Alice disappeared once, too—caged in an asylum by blood relatives. Recently freed, she fears her family may be more involved with the growing crisis than she ever dared imagine.

Yet the more she seeks the truth about her family’s troubled history, the more she realizes her already-fragile psyche may be at risk. Discovering the cause of the vanishings, though, could be the only way to escape her mother’s reach while determining the future of all witches.

Review: I never realized how much I love urban fantasy until recently, but it is quickly becoming one of my favourite genres to read. And this book is such a fantastic addition to the genre.

One of the things I loved about the story was the pacing. This was not a very fast-paced story, but the slower pace worked very well because it allowed for the development of the darker elements. And the dark aspects of the story were worth waiting for! I knew this story wasn’t going to be a lighthearted read but even I was taken aback by the sheer evil mentioned in this book – and I loved it! The writing style that the author used was also perfect for building up tension in the plot and between the different characters. There was also no fakeness to any of the character interactions or situations; every remark, every scene was carefully crafted and served a higher purpose of solidifying the themes of the story.

There were quite a few characters to keep track of, and I will admit that I struggled here a bit. The author definitely did a great job of making each of them unique, but I would find myself forgetting how everyone was related or how old the characters were. The author does provide a helpful list of characters at the end of the book, but I wouldn’t recommend readers look at it while they are still reading the story because some of the descriptions of the characters can be spoilers.

But the plot was to die for: it was gripping, dark, and scary. It was everything I could ask for in an urban story centered around powerful witch families and covens.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this dark urban fantasy set in New Orleans. The characters, writing style, and eerie plot were absolutely amazing and I am definitely going to be reading more books by this author in the near future! I’m giving this a solid 4/5 stars!

I received this novel as an advance copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Happy reading ~

The Changeling by Victor LaValle

This was a novel I have been most excited to read and I wanted to make sure I would get the chance to read it before the year ends. I love magical realism and I love the idea of changeling children even more. It doesn’t hurt that the cover is really beautiful! Anyways, here is my review:

Apollo Kagwa has had strange dreams that have haunted him since childhood. An antiquarian book dealer, he is just beginning to settle into his new life as a committed and involved father when his wife Emma begins to act strange. Emma acts uninterested in their new baby boy, and while her symptoms were at first dismissed as being signs of post-partum depression, it quickly becomes clear that there is a lot more going on. And then it comes too late, as Emma commits a horrific act and vanishes, seemingly, into thin air. Heartbroken but determined to get answers, Apollo begins a journey beyond all imagining. But will he be prepared for the horrors that lie ahead?

The first half of this novel gripped me. There was a quirkiness to the storytelling, as we read about Apollo’s childhood, and his journey into adulthood where he meets – and falls in love with – Emma. I loved reading about Apollo’s dreams, and how he got into the book dealing business. The author did a great job of setting the stage for the story. And when the story became darker, it really chilled me to the bone. I knew something terrible was going to happen with Emma and Apollo and the baby, but reading it was more shocking than I had imagined – and I mean this in a good way! I wish that the author had created more of a buildup to this dark turn of events but I was so engrossed in Apollo’s character and the story that I didn’t mind the abruptness too much. When the next section of the story began, I was intrigued to see what Apollo would do next. In terms of character development, I think the author did a great job in portraying the way grief, anger, and confusion can change a person. However, the story itself started to become a little too strange for me. I like weirdness and whimsical twists, but I also really like when things are explained properly and transitions are made cleanly. And that didn’t happen here. There were so many things thrown in that weren’t explained properly! I wish the author had taken the time to develop the storyline of the witches and the hidden island and the bombing and the sheep’s head and the folktales and the ogre … and just so many other things. This second half of the novel felt very jumbled, as if the author was trying to throw in all sorts of different elements to make multiple points on all sorts of issues. Suddenly, there are warnings about the use of social media, and then we move onto the theme of family and beliefs and fairy tales being life lessons, and … well, you get the gist of it. Nothing was clearly outlined and the story lost the wonderful focus it had had in the beginning. So while the beginning of this novel was wonderful and scintillating, the second half of the story was a jumbled mess that left me wanting something different. I know a lot of other people really enjoyed this novel so maybe this is just me. But I’m giving this book a 2/5 stars.

Happy reading ~

A Secret History of Witches by Louisa Morgan

I received this novel as an advance copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Grandmére Ursule was one of the most powerful witches in her family. But when she dies trying to save the life of her tribe, her magic seems to have died with her. Even so, her daughters do their best to keep the Old Faith, practicing the spells and rites that have been a part of their family for generations. Then one day, Ursule’s young granddaughter steps into the circle, and magic flows anew. The story traverses 5 generations of witches, from early 19th century Brittany to London during WWII as they fight the battles of their time, deciding how far they are willing to go to protect their family, their heritage, and ultimately, their futures.

I really wanted to love this novel but I didn’t. The book is broken down into multiple parts such that each witch from the next generation gets her own story. I love the idea of magic being passed down from mother to daughter but I think that is where the problem of this novel lay: for each generation, the story from the previous generation must be recounted, and the same reactions from the newest witch are described, and it just starts to become repetitive. It’s hard to break from that cycle when it is that very cycle that is being described in the novel. I think that out of all of the witches that were described, there was only one that was truly different from the rest. While I get that the same traits and powers will run in the family, the personalities of the different witches were too similar for my taste. And as I mentioned, the concept was interesting in the beginning but the story itself was too cyclic and repetitive to maintain my interest. The author did put a valiant effort in trying to tie in different historical events to change things up between generations, but the scenarios remained the same. I also wish there had been more supernatural elements; I would have loved to read about the different spells and things that they learned and the reasons why they did certain rituals. For me, there was just not enough of a unique story and so, I’m giving this a 2/5 stars.

Happy reading ~

How to Hang A Witch by Adriana Mather

I’ve always been fascinated by the Salem Witch trials. It was a time when paranoia and hallucinations ran rampant, leading to the death of many innocent women. I remember reading quite a few nonfiction novels to try to understand how this mass hysteria came to be. I haven’t had a chance to read a fictional book about this topic, and thought this would be a good novel to start with. Here is my review:

Salem, Massachusetts is the site of the infamous witch trials. It is also Samantha Mather’s new home. When Sam and her stepmother move to Salem from New York City, they don’t exactly get a warm welcome. Sam is a descendant of Cotton Mather, one of the men responsible for the Salem Witch trials. This automatically makes San the enemy of a group of girls who are descended from the witches that were hung by Cotton. If struggling to deal with these bullies wasn’t enough, Sam also finds herself face to face with a real ghost, one who wants Sam to leave the house she lives in. But soon, Sam discovers that she is at the center of a centuries old curse. Sam must now get help from the ghost and find a way to work with her enemies in order to stop the deadly cycle of the curse. If any town should have learned its lesson, it’s Salem. But history may be about to repeat itself.

I went in knowing that this was a YA fiction novel. I think having this understanding is what allowed me to enjoy this story. I knew not to expect too much depth or intricate plot lines; I assumed it would have similar themes to most teen fiction stories (albeit with witches). This turned out to be true. However, I quite liked this story. Sam is a sarcastic yet shy/vulnerable character who has a hard time trusting people and opening up. This makes sense when you consider the things she has gone through in her childhood. In fact, I wish this was expounded upon more in the story. I liked the way the author brought in the history behind the Salem witch trials; in fact, I wish there had been more of it. I felt as if the author would bring up important facts or mysteries about this time period in history but then either let it drop or resolve it too quickly. I feel like this was an aspect that the author could have spent more time on. I will say that there was a definitive plot for this story and I really liked the way it moved; there was a lot more witchy elements than I had expected, which is always a nice surprise. The Descendants, the name for the group of students who are descended from the accused witches, were pretty much your stereotypical bully/popular girl clique but I expected that from the start. I will admit the writing wasn’t anything to admire and the love triangle was a bit awkward and cringe-y for my taste… but the overall story was interesting. I’m giving this a 3/5 stars, and I would recommend this to teens around the age of 13-15 who like stories about witches.

Happy reading ~

Wytches by Scott Snyder – Wytches Volume 1

I read about this awesome comic in a newsletter where it was recommended for fans of science fiction and fantasy. I’ve recently become more interested in graphic novels and I love anything to do with witches and the supernatural so I was super excited to try this story! Here is my review:

Everything you thought you knew about witches is wrong. They are much darker, and  much more horrifying. When the Rooks family moves to Litchfield, they are hoping for a brand new start. They want to leave the trauma of their past behind and work on getting better together. But there is something evil waiting for them, watching them in the woods just beyond town. It is waiting in the trees. And it is ancient … and it is hungry …

This comic had a very interesting take on wytches. For one thing, they weren’t humans but more monsters that liked to eat people. While some people may not like this, I thought it was a cool take on the stereotypical view of what a wytch is. I also thought that the premise of the story was really cool. There was this whole father-daughter relationship that was beautifully depicted by the author, with this whole nightmarish horror story meshed in. And it worked! Both of these elements worked well together and complemented each other to create a well-developed story. I wish I had gotten to know more about the Rooks family, especially their daughter (since she was pretty much the main character); it felt like the end reveal could have been drawn out better to give a more tense feeling. I will say that this graphic novel wasn’t as creepy as I was expecting. It was still really good but I was expecting a little more horror; maybe if the story was drawn out more and I had had more of an opportunity to connect with the characters, it would have made the horror more heightened. This was a pretty interesting graphic novel and I will probably check out Volume 2! 4/5 stars from me!

Happy reading ~


The Cuckoo Tree by Joan Aiken – Wolves Chronicles #6

This book was actually the first one I read from this series, back when I was about 9 years old. I absolutely loved it and I loved its sequel, Dido and Pa. This books is what sparked my interest in the whole series and I’m so happy to get the chance to read it now in the correct order! I wanted to know if, after reading about all of Dido’s other adventures, whether my opinion on this novel would be different or not … so here is my review:

Just as Dido Twite makes her way back on English soil, she lands in trouble. When her carriage overturns and her friend Captain Hughes is injured in it, Dido is forced to stay at Dogkennel Cottages to tend to Captain Hughes. There, she meets the odd inhabitants of Tegleaze Manor: fussy old Lady Tegleaze, her nephew Tobit, and his witchy nurse, Tante Sannie. However, there are suspicious things afoot: a priceless miniature is stolen, Tobit is framed, and a twin sister is discovered. And soon Dido discovers that she is in the midst of another Hanoverian plot! Can she get to London in time to save the king?

Once again, we are in for a wacky adventure. Every time Dido had a remark or thought about something, I couldn’t help but laugh – she is just that funny and sarcastic of a character. There’s quite a bit of witchy magic going on in this novel, which was super fun to read about. This novel was a bit darker than Dido’s time on Nantucket, but I really liked that because it gave it a bit more depth. Of course, depth doesn’t mean that this novel was more serious; if anything, the story was even wackier than any before it! We have the presence of an elephant again, which was something that I just didn’t understand, and didn’t like as much, but overall, this story was just as fun to read as every other one in the series. After rereading this book, I think it is still one of my favorite novels in this series! Now, time for the next one!

Happy reading ~

Warren the 13th and The All-Seeing Eye by Tania del Rio

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Sometimes, I like to take a break from reading heavy books and switch it up with something lighter. I find that books aimed for little kids are just adorable in the way they portray the classic good-vs-evil story with a whole host of cute characters; they can definitely be appealing if you want something light-hearted. With that, let me start my review:

Warren the 13th comes from a long line of hotel owners. He is the sole bellhop, waiter, valet, and groundskeeper for his family’s ancient hotel. Once, it was a glorious place that was always booming but now it’s more of a shadowy mansion full of crooked corridors and musty rooms. However, the hotel has a secret: it just might be the home for a magical object called the All-Seeing Eye. Can Warren make sense of all of the clues to find the treasure before his evil Aunt Annaconda does?

What a cute book! Warren is such an adorable character, and he is the sweetest kid you will ever read about! The story reminded me a little of The Wolves Chronicles by Joan Aiken (which I’m still in the process of reading) because of its wackiness and weird plot twists. The ebook ARC version that I read had some illustrations in it but they were not always in the best format; I think the final completed version of this book has made the illustrations a lot clearer so that will be another element that kids will enjoy. This is definitely a story I can see middle schoolers enjoying because it’s got great elements, great pictures, and a great theme!

Happy reading ~

The Stolen Lake by Joan Aiken – Wolves Chronicles #4

What I love about this series is that you never feel like you’ve missed anything when you wait before reading the next book. In the beginning of each book, the reader gets a chance to remember the particulars that led to this current situation, and then the story takes up and you get lost in all the action. With this particular book, the author mentions that it can be read as a standalone and has no bearing on the rest of the series. So if you are intrigued by this author but don’t have the time to read the whole series, this book is a good place to start! Anyways, enough rambling, let me get on with my review:

On her way back to London aboard the Thrush, Dido and the crew are summoned to the aid of the queen of New Cumbria. Her island has been a source of help for Britain in the past, and now she uses that connection to seek justice. When the crew arrives, they find that the island is a very unusual place, full of birds that are big enough to carry off men, and fish that eat human flesh and leave only bones as remains. The queen is greatly distressed because she believes that a neighbouring king has stolen her lake. It is up to Dido and the rest of the crew to face the many dangers that are present on this island in order to get the lake back.

In comparison to the previous books in this series, this one is definitely unique. While this novel continues in the style of alternate history, we also see unique fantasy and mythology elements. Once again, we see Dido as the star of the show. Her humor and quick wit save her time and again. I actually loved the adult characters that were introduced here as Dido’s companions; unlike the other books, most of them were quite ready to follow Dido’s directives and were a great asset to her! The plot, while not related to anything Hanoverian, was still delightfully sinister, and the evil characters were quite well drawn up! There are certain things that I found weren’t addressed fully in the book, but apart from that, this novel was just as fun and amazing as every other book in the series! I think this may be one of my favorite stories about Dido so far, but I’m going to read the next one to see if it can top this!

Happy reading ~

The Witches of New York by Ami McKay

I love Ami McKay. Pretty much every book I have read by her has been thought-provoking, and intense. I expected no less of this novel of hers. I was especially excited by the magic angle; I’m going through a fantasy/supernatural phase right now so this was perfect timing for me!

1880 is a dangerous time for women. In Manhattan, there are many on the lookout for witches, and any intelligent woman (witch or no) who speaks her mind is in danger of being accused of witchcraft. During times like these, Adelaide Thom and Eleanor St. Clair set up their tea shop, where they cater to the elite ladies of Manhattan, in the form of tea… as well as through palmistry and potions. Their shop is heavily frequented as both Adelaide and Eleanor are known for their discretion. All is well until one bright September day when a young woman named Beatrice Dunn arrives at the shop looking for employment. Beatrice soon wins over Eleanor and becomes a valuable apprentice, but Beatrice’s new life is filled with strange occurrences, especially once it becomes clear that she can see and hear things that no one else can. Has she somehow gained magical skills or is she simply losing her mind? Eleanor wants to air on the side of caution but Adelaide sees this as a wonderful new business venture. However, things go awry quickly and Beatrice is put in danger. In a time when being a woman is the most dangerous thing in the world, will these three witches survive?

As usual, the story was spell-binding and filled with wonderful intricate details. I really liked how the author had newspaper articles and pamphlets inserted into the story to help build the setting up. This is a very feminist-oriented novel that sheds light on the plight of women in the 1800s, during a time when being forthright and asserting one’s rights were frowned upon. The blend of history with magic was masterfully done and quite enjoyable to read. I did find that the story moved at a slower pace than what I am used to by this author, but the tension was palpable throughout and it kept me going all the way until the end. There were certain story plots that I felt could have been explored in greater depth, but overall this story was very good, and I was pleased with my experience! Here’s to more novels by Ami McKay!

Happy reading ~