Many books were enjoyed, even more were started. February was dreary, but a great month for reading.

The Cloisters by Katy Hays

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I resent the way this book is marketed—literally as “The Secret History for a new generation.” It’s a bold claim, and it falls short (and not just because that would be If We Were Villains, if it were anything.) The Cloisters is well written and, yes, it has a nice dark academia vibe. But never did I really not know where it was going. It’s much simpler than The Secret History, and it has a far less *ahem* cloistered away vibe, if you will. It takes place in New York City, and it does the whole let’s glorify NYC thing. Rather than The Secret Hitory, I’d say you’ll like this if you liked The Bell Jar.

Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty by Patrick Radden Keefe

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I really enjoyed this audiobook. Empire of Pain was recommended to me many times, and all I knew was that it was about the opioid-related Sackler family. While this book does go into the opioid epidemic and the Sackler’s valium-related empire before that, it focuses much more on the family and the family’s corporation(s). These are truly awful people. Incredibly well-researched and fascinating, I find myself still thinking about it every once and a while, weeks after finishing.

Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I didn’t expect Iron Widow to be as divisive or exciting as it was. Some of my friends really don’t like the way it’s written, but I loved it. First of all, this is straight-up YA. It’s great YA (well, SFF YA). Simple, straightforward, high-stakes and heart-pounding. It pulses with feminine rage. It reads like a totally awesome movie in your mind. It’s fun and furious. I had so, so much fun reading this, and I only wish a younger me could have discovered and delighted in it as much as older me has.

Fated Lies by Ella Miles

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Gun to my head, I could not tell you why I kept reading this series. I have nothing more to say.

The Serpent and the Wings of Night by Clarissa Broadbent

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I expected it to have ACOTAR vibes, but TikTok did not warn me that this was going to be a masterclass on a well-written, tightly plotted romantic fantasy. I can confirm that this one’s got everything we love and look for, with much better writing than Armentrout and better plotting than Maas. Not that there’s anything new going on here, but it’s got all the tropes!

Extremely annoying title though. Full review coming soon!

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