February Monthly Wrap Up (Part 1)

Hey there, everyone!
The second month of 2021 is already over and I’m a little surprised that it’s already over? Maybe it’s because February is a little shorter than the other months but it felt like it went really fast to me!
Now, before I get started, I just want to let you all know that I’ve made a bit of a change to my monthly wrap ups. I know that overall, people do enjoy my monthly wrap up bookish awards and I definitely wanted to keep them in my wrap up. However, my wrap up for January was really long. So for this month and probably future months, I’ll be making my wrap ups in two parts. The first part will consist of a more book-related wrap up whereas the second part consists of the blogging or life updates that I have.
(Also I’d just like to tell you why it says ‘February 20th’ on the featured image, it’s because I spent all of last week thinking it was February 20th even though it wasn’t yet the 20th at that point and…I didn’t have anything else to put there).

~What I read~

So….do you guys remember my amazing reading month last month? Like, 26 books?
Yeah…that didn’t happen again (though to be fair I had NO expectation of reading that many books again this month). Instead, this month I read a total of 12 books which was actually more than I expected, given that I’d read about 2 by the 13th. I AM happy that I managed to read 4 books on my 2021 tbr (21 books I want to read in 2021).

Amazon.com: Beyond the Ruby Veil (Beyond the Ruby Veil (1))  (9781368052139): Fitzgerald, Mara: Books
Amazon.com: Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer (1)) (9780316341684):  Taylor, Laini: Books
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda - Wikipedia
  • Beyond the Ruby Veil by Mara Fitzgerald. This book was…certainly interesting. It was a super unique idea and actually the execution wasn’t terrible either. There were just a few things that I didn’t like about it, I feel like the worldbuilding could have been better and the whole thing was just a bit weird. Also, I’m discovering that I might not actually enjoy reading morally grey characters??? ⭐⭐⭐
  • Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor. I was recommended this book MONTHS ago by a friend and it just took me so long to pick it up. I don’t know why. Laini Taylor is a master at worldbuilding and this book was absolutely beautiful. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Simon Vs the Homosapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli. Honestly, I can’t believe I haven’t read this before? I mean, I’m not saying that like ‘THIS BOOK WAS SO GOOD HOW HAVE I NOT PICKED IT UP BEFORE’ but more like ‘I’ve seen this book EVERYWHERE.’ It was a really sweet book! Ugh, I hated Martin. ⭐⭐⭐⭐
All the Tides of Fate by Adalyn Grace
Amazon.com: Leah on the Offbeat (9780062643810): Albertalli, Becky: Books
Amazon.com: Not Your Sidekick (Sidekick Squad) (9781945053030): Lee, C.B.:  Books
  • All the Tides of Fate by Adalyn Grace. It was quite a surprise when I got this for Valentines day! I always get one or two books for Valentines Day (books=love) but I just never expected THIS. I also got the exclusive owlcrate edition one so it has a super cool cover AND it’s signed! I really enjoyed how this book had a lot more character development and we got to explore the islands a bit more. That ending though!!! ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli. Okay, I actually think I enjoyed this more than I enjoyed Simon Vs. I don’t exactly know WHY but I just did! ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Not Your Sidekick by CB Lee. Aaah, this was just such a nice superhero story, it was just a more low-key book than I usually read and…I don’t know what it was about it. It was just really nice. ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Book 8.5: Unlocked | Lost Cities Keeper Wiki | Fandom
Amazon.com: Muse of Nightmares (Strange the Dreamer (2)) (9780316341714):  Taylor, Laini: Books
LOVELESS (202 JEUNESSE): OSEMAN ALICE: 9780008244125: Amazon.com: Books
  • KOTLC 8.5: Unlocked by Shannon Messenger. I don’t know if this really counts as a read and I’m not going to rate it since it mostly wasn’t story but it was fun to see all the things about the world, the really cool looking map, the character profiles and the PICTURES I loved seeing the pictures.
  • Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor. I honestly don’t know what I expected from this book. Book one was just so good and given the end of it…well, I expected this one to go in a very different direction than it did. I really did enjoy it nonetheless! ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Loveless by Alice Oseman. Let me just say: aro/ace rep at it’s finest. I loved this book, it was just so amazing to read and I think it will help a lot of people understand more about aro/ace and the aro/ace spectrum. I really enjoy how Alice Oseman makes all her characters flawed. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
The Hand on the Wall (Truly Devious, #3) by Maureen Johnson
The Year of the Witching: Henderson, Alexis: 9780593099605: Amazon.com:  Books
A Vow So Bold and Deadly (The Cursebreaker Series) Brigid Kemmerer:  Bloomsbury YA
  • The Hand on the Wall by Maureen Johnson. Aaah, the third book in the Truly Devious series! I think it wrapped up the series quite nicely and I enjoyed it more than I enjoyed the first two books. ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson. This book was interesting. The plot was super unique and I did enjoy it, however it had a bit of a slow start. ⭐⭐⭐
  • A Vow so Bold and Deadly by Brigid Kemmerer. I’m quite disappointed by this book. Books one and two in this series were good, and this one just…fell flat. I literally feel like nothing happened until about 70% through the book. Also, I still don’t like Rhen and I don’t understand why people are annoyed with the book ending how it did. ⭐⭐⭐

~The Monthly Book Awards~

Those of you who’ve seen my blog since the last wrap up know what the monthly book awards are but for anyone new, I’ll explain them really quickly.
These awards are basically just short little things I do where I ‘award’ a character, a world, a book, etc. if it’s the best one of the topic that I’ve read that month. Down below, you can see all the categories and the award winners for each one!
Note: all awards are my own opinion
Also: While this is my creation, anyone who wants to participate in the monthly book awards is completely welcome to do so on their own blog! Just make sure to credit me, but other than that I’d love to see everyone else’s award winners!
Also, just an edit for going forwards: I’ve decided to remove the ‘worst’ part of the awards. While it can be good to know what books to stay away from and where books are weaker, I’ve realized that it’s much more important to focus on the good parts of books, and also that it might be sort of unfair to choose what book was worst in some points. Hope you all are okay with this!

Best character: Honestly, this is a bit of a surprise for me but I was having a hard time choosing what character I liked best. None really stood out to me very much this month, but eventually I decided on Ferrick from All the Tides of Fate. I feel like Ferrick really shone in this book, in book 1 he was sort of just a useless blob that Amora was annoyed at a lot but he really stepped into his own shoes and was awesome in this book.
Most interesting character: I’m actually going to go with Minya, from Strange the Dreamer, here. I did not like Minya very much but she was a very layered character and she had clearly gone through trauma.
Funniest character: Wow, basically none of my characters were funny this month. I had a very serious month, character-wise. But I guess I’ll go with Keefe, from the KOTLC novella, because, well, he’s Keefe. He was definitely NOT as funny as usual. Or, possibly, at all. Maybe I’ll go with Ro instead.

Best villain: Oh, I’ll definitely go with Nova from Muse of Nightmares, here. Nova was…a villain who didn’t understand the situation (when she finally met Lazlo and co. I mean) and was driven by a deep love for her sister which I really liked.
Most original villain: Uuuh well I might honestly have to go with Nova once again because I can’t really think of any other villains in the books that I read who were very original. I believe that Nova was, though, so I’ll go with her.

Best plot: Okay, either all the other books I read were just not interesting or I REALLY liked this book because I’m going to go with Strange the Dreamer once again. That book was just beautiful.
Most original plot: The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson. It was super interesting, not like any book I’ve read before! I liked how the plagues influenced the story so much (I mean, they were the main part…)
A close second to this one is Beyond the Ruby Veil, it’s really original as well.
Craziest plot twist: Eeeh, I guess I’ll say when Stevie figured out who the murderer was in The Hand on the Wall. I did not expect that at ALL.

Best world building: This one easily goes to Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor. Taylor is just so amazing at building worlds, it’s incredible.
Most original world: Beyond the Ruby Veil by Mara Fitzgerald. Its world building was one of the most unique parts of the story, it was very fascinating that there would be eight different but identical cities, all connected by catacombs around the ruby veil.

Best romance: Looking back at the books I read this month–I’ve read no good romance this month. Okay, that’s a lie, Simon vs. and Leah on the Offbeat were good (which is a relief, because they were the two romances I read this month). There was just nothing that stood out to me. But I suppose I will say Leah on the Offbeat.
Most unexpected romance: This isn’t technically even a romance, it’s not there yet at ALL but…did I see something developing between Ruza and Thyon at the end of Muse of Nightmares?

Most diverse book: Loveless, by Alice Oseman. First of all, it’s fairly rare to read aro/ace rep in books (AND SO GOOD WHEN IT’S THERE) so that’s definitely a big part of me sticking this book here, plus a lot of other characters were LGBTQ+ as well, and Pip and Sunil were Latinx and Indian respectively.

Best book overall: This is a difficult question for me to answer because the two books that I would call the best are extremely different novels and I don’t think that I can compare them like that. So I’ll just say that the two best books overall were Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor and Loveless by Alice Oseman
Most interesting book overall: I really think I’m going to go with Loveless again just because it was…well, it really kept me hooked and there were a lot of good things about it.
The book that surprised me most: I’ll say Not Your Sidekick by CB Lee here. It wasn’t that it surprised me in a bad way, it just very much was not what I was expecting, at all.

~March TBR~

I don’t usually do a TBR just because I will rarely stick to it because sometimes books come into my life that I hadn’t intended to read but I’ve decided to try just a small one of books that I’m probably going to read in March.

Amazon.com: A Dark and Hollow Star (9781534453678): Shuttleworth, Ashley:  Books
Amazon.com: The Gilded Ones (9781984848697): Forna, Namina: Books
  • King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo. I’ve FINALLY gotten around to reading this gem, just in time for book 2 to come out! I can’t wait to read more Nikolai and given how much Bardugo’s writing improved from the Shadow and Bone series to Six of Crows, I’m excited to see how she’s improved this time!
  • A Dark and Hollow Star by Ashley Shuttleworth. This is probably my most anticipated (non-sequel) release of 2021. It just sounds amazing, and since it came out on February 23 I can’t wait to get my hands on it!
  • The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna. This month’s owlcrate book! It looks awesome and I’ve already seem several amazing reviews so I’m looking forwards to it! (Also, this month’s owlcrate cover is STUNNING, easily the most beautiful of the cover changes they’ve done so far).

~Monthly Bingo~

Just like last month, I did the monthly book bingo, a bingo card created each month by The Colorful Bibliophile. (Find my completed board in my January wrap up, here). I highly encourage everyone to take part–it’s such a fun idea! Anyways, here’s my board for the month of February:

You can find the link to February’s bingo board here, as well as the March board here. I hope you’ll participate with me because it’s lots of fun!

Well that’s a wrap for my February wrap up! Have you read any of the books that I read? What’d you think of my Monthly Book Awards? And are you thinking of participating in the March bingo? If you have anything you want to say about this post, please drop a message in the comments–I love talking to you all!
Thank you so much for stopping by, and as always, stay safe and keep reading!

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Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

So…you guys know how I did on my last review (hint: not well, since it was a month since I read the book).

Okay fine it’s been exactly a month (as of the day this post is published) since I read Cemetery Boys, as well.
Yeah, I really need to write my reviews sooner.
But I HOPE that I can still write this review pretty well because I LOVED reading this book.

Cemetery Boys | Aiden Thomas

Published September 1st | Swoon Reads

352 pages | Hardcover

Content warnings: Misgendering, dead naming, blood magic, self harm (for ritualistic purposes)

Rep: Trans gay Latinx MC, gay LI

When Yadriel’s traditional Latinx family puts off the ceremony that would cement him as a brujo – indefinitely – due to the fact that he’s trans, Yadriel becomes determined to prove to them that he is a true brujo. With the help of his cousin Maritza, he performs the ritual himself, before deciding to find the ghost of his murdered cousin and set it free.

And Yadriel does summon a ghost – but not the ghost he was looking for. Instead, he’s found the ghost of Julian Diaz, the school’s resident bad boy and Julian most certainly does not want to go into death quietly. The cause of his death is uncertain and Julian needs to know what happened. Yadriel agrees to help him with the mystery as long as Julian will let Yadriel release him without a complaint afterwards. But the longer that Yadriel spends around Julian, the more uncertain he is that he really wants him to go.

All summaries are my own unless otherwise stated. Parts of the summary may be borrowed from goodreads

Let me tell you a little story.
I first heard about Cemetery Boys in…April? May? Anyways, I was just starting to get into the book community. And WOW it sounded SO GOOD. But it didn’t come out until September, which was quite disappointing to me (I was new, what can I say, I wasn’t used to waiting long times for releases!).
Then, September rolled around and it got released and I was SUPER excited. But September was this sort of awkward time because I wanted to own it and so I could ask for it for Christmas but Christmas was sooooooo far away. And I really wanted to read it right. then.
I decided to wait for Christmas. And in all this time, I was reading reviews, hearing people rave about this book, and that just built up all the hype in my mind. It was practically my favorite book before I’d even read it! I was recommending it to people, I even voted for it on the goodreads choice awards! I loved it before I even had my hands on it.
Aaaaaaaaaand…..

It totally lived up to the hype!

Yadriel was a great protagonist. Honestly, I think that he acted a lot like how an actual teen would act. He’s just a kid trying to make his family see who he really is. I’ve seen a review or two complaining that he can be a little whiny at times but honestly I feel like that’s pretty justified given his family situation.


Julian is pitched in the summary as ‘the school’s resident bad boy’. And I honestly think this is interesting and sort of gives insight as to how society labels us. The only bad things that Julian really did was skip school. He hung out places like under bridges with his group of friends because none of them had very good homes to go back to and just those two things were enough to make basically everyone have opinions about him. These kids at school didn’t even know him but were telling stories about how his brother took over the family drug trade and was selling it out of his mechanic shop. Don’t listen to everything you hear, kids. (tries to pretend she’s like 20 years older than everyone reading this even though she’s not).
But really, Julian is a super sweet person. He’s so loyal to his friends and worries about them so much even when he’s literally dead.


And last but certainly not least, there’s Maritza. I loved Maritza because she’s so close to Yadriel. I really enjoy reading strong family relationships and though Yadriel’s relationship with the rest of his family is not so great, Maritza’s always by his side, always supporting him.

Honestly, when I picked this up, I was expecting more plot than this. I mean really from the summary I wasn’t sure what kind of book to expect, aside from ghosts (spirit! Ghost is a derogatory term). But whatever it was, it was not this. I maybe expected some adventure, it’s talking about ‘agreeing to help Julian’ (goodreads summary) so for some reason that always makes me think of two people setting out on a quest to do blah and blah and blah
But, no matter what the plot actually was like, I enjoyed this a lot! It was a lot more…relaxed than I thought? I’m not entirely sure what that means since, like, there was a time limit and death and blood etc. but yep, that’s what I’m thinking about this right now. The mind of Phoenix works in mysterious ways, my friends.

And of course, we cannot discuss this book without discussing the awesome way that Aiden Thomas wove trans and LGBTQIAP+ issues into the plot. The way that these things were commented on in the book never slowed the plot down and yet it was still such an important part of the book. This was really awesome to see because I just don’t see many books that manage to do this so successfully.

Queer Folk are like wolves. We travel in packs

Quote from Julian. I just had to add this in here.

Characters: 🌟🌟🌟🌟 | Plot: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 | Romance: 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Find some other awesome Cemetery Boys book reviews at Never Not Reading and The Bookish Mutant! Also, The Quiet Pond did an interview with the author, Aiden Thomas!

Have you read Cemetery Boys? What do you think of this post? I’d love to hear your opinion on my opinion–just as long as it’s respectful!
As always, thank you so much for checking out this post–it means the world. Stay safe and keep on reading!

Interview with TJ Klune, author of The Extraordinaries

My second book interview has finally arrived! I’m really excited for this one. I read “The Extraordinaries” a few months ago and loved it. This is, quite possibly, the funniest book I’ve ever read. I was literally laughing every single page.

Here’s a little more about the book:
Author: TJ Klune
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, LGBTQIAP+,
Age suggestion (my opinion): 14+
Series: “The Extraordinaries” (3 books)
Other: “The Extraordinaries” is author TJ Klune’s YA debut. Book two comes out July 20, 2021

Unfortunately I did not have time to write a review of “The Extraordinaries”. Fortunately, you can read my (very short) goodreads review here and you can find the synopsis on goodreads here.

Anyways, why am I wasting your time by talking? Here’s the interview with TJ Klune about his YA debut “The Extraordinaries”!

Q: When did you first realize you wanted to become an author?  
A: When I was a kid! I carried around this notebook, filling it with stories I’d think up off the top of my head. They obviously weren’t very good (I started when I was six or seven), but even back then, I was already thinking about writing, and what I wanted to do with it. When I was in seventh grade, I had two amazing teachers who really pushed me to continue writing, and I’ve never forgotten their faith in me.

Q: The Extraordinaries is your YA debut. What made you decide to write a YA book and this book in particular?
A: I’d always been thinking about wanting to write a superhero book, given that I’m a huge nerd when it comes to comic books. It was nebulous, this thought, as story ideas sometimes are, but then I was talking with a friend and complaining about proper neurodiversity representation in fiction. I have ADHD, and it’s still so hard to find characters written by authors who either a) are neurodiverse themselves or b) actually do the research into what it means to have ADHD.
It kind of coalesced from there, and I knew I wanted to write about a sixteen year old kid with ADHD and his head stuck in the clouds, given his obsession with the superheroes in his city. This book was to give people like my–the neurodiverse–someone to root for, someone who thinks and talks and acts like they do, so they could see themselves in fiction. When I was sixteen, I didn’t have that kind of rep, or good and honest queer representation. While the latter has gotten much better as we near the end of 2020, I think we still have a ways to go before we’re there.

Q: Are any of the characters from The Extraordinaries based off of anyone?
A: Not really! I think it’s fair to say that authors pluck bits and pieces from authors (and themselves) and put that into the characters and/or stories that they right, and I certainly can say I do the same. But specific people with specific traits that’s a one-to-one representation of them? I try to avoid that. It feels…I don’t know. Weirdly invasive, but that’s just me.

Q: What did you learn while writing The Extraordinaries? How did you grow as an author and a person while writing it?
A: The best thing l learned was from all the research I had to do on fandom and fan fiction. A big part of The Extraordinaries is that Nick Bell, the main character, is the most popular writer in the Extraordinaries fandom. He writes barely-disguised self-insert fanfiction about the superhero he has a crush on.
Fan fiction gets such an undeserved bad rap. There’s a negative connotation behind it, suggesting that everything people write in fandoms is juvenile. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Is there bad fanfiction? Yes. But then there are bad books that are published by major publishers.
The biggest thing I learned is how fandom is a safe place for marginalized groups, many of whom are queer people who don’t get to see themselves in the canon books/movies/tv/whatever their writing about. So they write the stories 
they want to see. In addition to giving them the rep they deserve, fanfiction can also be a place where writers can figure out how to hone their creative voice. In researching the Extraordinaries, I read some of the most beautiful writing I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading, and it was in fanfiction.

Q: What was something or some things that helped you get through writing this book–a food, pet, advice, something else?
A: My dog helps quite a bit. When I’m stuck and facing writer’s block, or I’m not sure about what needs to happen next in a story, I’ll take Hendrix on a long walk through our neighborhood or at the park, and it allows me to have time away from a word document, to be able to clear my head and regain my focus.

Q: What can we expect from book two, Flash Fire? (No spoilers please)
A: Flash Fire is going to continue threads that started in the Extraordinaries, and will open up the world a bit. The Extraordinaries was always meant to feel a bit insular, with Nick’s extreme focus on trying to become a superhero. With the sequel, we see other Extraordinaries, and Nick and Seth and Jazz and Gibby will have to contend with what that means for them, their families, and Nova City. It’s bigger, badder, sexier (ish–Nick is still sort of a prude), and I’m so excited for people to see what comes next.

Q: What is some advice you have for aspiring authors?
A: One thing that bugs the crap out of me is when I here authors telling others that a “real” author writes every day. This is terrible advice. While some can write everyday, I’m not one of them. It’s important to learn your limits, and to accept the fact that some days, the words just won’t come. Though far and few between, those days can be rough, especially if you force yourself to try and write through it. You’ll only end up frustrating yourself, and could potentially lose sight of why you’re telling the story you are. If you do hit one of those walls, for the love of all that’s holy, take a damn break! It could be for an hour or a day or a week or a month, but don’t force it because the story won’t be like you want it to. If I ever hit those blocks and it looks like it’ll last a little longer than a day, I try and work on something else, to move my focus. Nine times out of ten, when I come back to the story that was giving me issues, I’ll see right away where I went wrong, and how to fix it.

Alright that’s the interview! I hope you enjoyed!

What did you think of this post? Have you read The Extraordinaries? Do you want to read the Extraordinaries? Tell me your thoughts in the comments!