What I’m Reading: February

I can’t believe it’s March already. Frozen releases in less than 50 days!! This doesn’t seem possible because I swear I was debuting just a few weeks back.

Anyway… Here’s what I read in February:

THE WINNER’S CURSE by Marie Rutkoski
Kestrel is the daughter of a prestigious general, and has a choice to make in the coming months: marry, or join the army. She’s content with neither, and spends her days prolonging a decision and indulging in music (an art her culture despises, as it was valued by the people they now enslave). One day at the market, Kestrel buys a slave—Arin—on a whim. The price of her purchase has people gossiping, and as Kestrel spends more time with Arin, she slowly begins to fall for him. But what she doesn’t know is that Arin has his own dark secrets, and they could shatter everything she holds dear.

I can barely talk about this book coherently. I had the pleasure of reading an ARC and after about three chapters my chest was heaving because I knew it was going to be one of those books that stayed with me forever. It reminded me of Megan Whalen Turner’s The Thief series—a fully realized fantasy world, but firmly rooted in reality, with no magic. I loved everything about this book. It’s got a headstrong, nuanced heroine, and hard-hitting themes of class and social standing. It’s full of politics and war and intrigue. There’s action and violence and manipulation. And a slow burn, very believable romance that had me swooning like crazy. The ending is bittersweet, but necessary, and the wait for book two just might kill me. The Winner’s Curse comes out on Tuesday, and if there is only one book you read this month, make it this one. Still need more convincing? Check my status updates from when I first read.

 

THESE BROKEN STARS by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
After the Icarus is yanked out of hyperspace and crashes on a strange planet, wealthy Lilac LaRoux and war hero Tarver Merendsen find themselves the only survivors. Forced to work together, they navigate their way across the planet, looking for shelter and praying rescue crews arrive quickly.

These Broken Stars books was positioned as a space opera, and while that might be true in future installments (multiple planets, travels through deep space, etc), I found this series opener to be much more of a survival and romance story, with a dash of mystery on the side. Lilac begins hearing strange voices and seeing apparitions. Certain lifeforms lead Tarver to believe the planet was terraformed by humans–but where are those humans now? The plot here is steady and true, focusing on character development and how Tarver and Lilac regard each other. Perhaps my favorite aspect of the book were the epigraphs precededing each chapter: conversations between Tarver and unnamed officials, in which he explains the details of the crash and the subsequent days. These epigraphs served as both comedic relief and masterful foreshadowing. For hesitant sci-fi readers, this could be a nice introduction to the genre. For fans of romances and survival stories, this is your book.

 

THE ORPHAN QUEEN by Jodi Meadows
A big perk of having author friends is getting to read their books long before they enter the world. Jodi Meadow’s forthcoming novel, The Orphan Queen, follows “an orphaned princess fighting to reclaim her kingdom while hiding her power from the masked vigilante hunting her, set in a world where magic is not just forbidden, but will soon destroy everything” (goodreads).

This is the first in a two book series, and it was so much fun. I don’t want to say too much because it’s still very early, but rest assured that Meadows brings her fantasy world to life skillfully, and populates it with dynamic characters you can’t help but root for. Her masked vigilante was a personal favorite for me, and the jaw-dropping ending has me desperate for the sequel/conclusion. This one comes out some time next year.

I’ve also been continuing to research my western WIP, but I won’t bore you with those details. (I figure those books are only of interest if you, too, are writing a book set in 1877 Arizona.)

Your turn: What did you read and love in February?

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