February 2023 Round-Up

Title in white on brown and blue book spines

February was another busy month for me, ending with another international trip for my PhD (last set of travel for a while) which rather consumed a lot of my time. Despite feeling like I was struggling to read (I think because I re-read some series and also DNF’d a fair few books and my blogpost buffer decreased signficantly), I did not too badly. I am, however, hoping for a steadier feeling March!

Best New Release

Book cover for STARDUST IN THEIR VEINS: title in gold on a red-head girl in a blue dress

STARDUST IN THEIR VEINS, by Laura Sebastian, is the second book in the CASTLES IN THEIR BONES trilogy. I absolutely loved the first book last year and so was very much looking forward to this sequel. I am glad to say it absolutely lived up to my expectations.

This is a trilogy about three triplets who have been raised to marry into neighbouring countries and then take them down from within. But not all of the sisters are still onboard with the plan, and they’ve lost a lot for it. I was very pleased to see that the big shock at the end of the first book was upheld in this one, helping with the feeling of cost and risk.

Best Backlist Read

Book cover for THE SHADOWS BETWEEN US: title in white on graphic of a dagger and black roses on pink

While THE SHADOWS BETWEEN US, by Tricia Levenseller, technically only came out this year in the UK, it’s been out in the US for about two and a half years now, so I’m counting it!

THE SHADOWS BETWEEN US is the fifth books I’ve read by the author now (in a very short space of time) and it has only confirmed Tricia Levenseller’s place on my “auto-buy” list. This time, we get a fantasy about a girl who is very ambitious (and the book absolutely lets that shine through without trying to soften or make it sympathetic, which I loved) and the king whose shadow magic keeps everyone at bay she is determined to marry and then kill for his power.

Most Surprising

Cover for THE EMPRESS: title in black on white dress of a woman on a throne on green

I know very little about this period of history (late 19th century Austrian-Hungarian history) but I was a little cautious about THE EMPRESS, by Gigi Griffis, because it sounded like it was going to be very heavy on the romance, which isn’t always my favourite thing.

While I have no idea how accurate it is (I mean it is based on a Netflix show that I heard was slammed a bit for making the situation into more of a traditional romance structure) I enjoyed this. The narrators (two for three POVs) were great.

Best UK-Authored Read

Book cover for SIXTEEN SOULS: title in white on blue graphic of a boy in a street

One of the last books I read this month, SIXTEEN SOULS, by Rosie Talbot, was a creepy but cosy delight. It’s full of ghosts and community – and the lead has two engaged, living parents trying to be there for him as best they can. Bonus – it’s set in York (where I lived for three years during my undergrad!)

Charlie is a seer, able to see and interact with ghosts, but he tries to keep his head down and his life unremarkable. But when he runs into Sam and ghosts start going missing, threatening the few he has brought into his life, Charlie is drawn into a deadly mystery.

Best Debut

Book cover for GODKILLER: title in gold on a moon rising in a forest with a stag in front of it

GODKILLER, by Hannah Kaner, is the start of a dark fantasy trilogy set in an inventive world when gods can be killed – and that’s now the standard policy. I loved the exploration of how that affects people, particularly if it merely takes belief to create a god.

Kissen is a godkiller, and she’s very good at it. But then she runs into Inara, who is somehow linked to a god of white lies, and for the first time she’s faced with a god she can’t kill – not until she knows more. And finding out more is going to force her to trek to a city where the godwar ended with an enigmatic man with a mission of his own.

Most Anticipated March Release

Book cover for LIES WE SING TO THE SEA: title in blue on line drawing of a girl whose hair becomes the sea

I was very lucky to read some of my anticipated March releases – THE ADVENTURES OF AMINA AL-SIRAFI and RIDER OF THE STORM – however, this is a very big month for releases. There are three left that I am very excited about and picking one for this list was hard.

LIES WE SING TO THE SEA, by Sarah Underwood, is a UKYA fantasy debut that imagines what might have happened after the Odyssey ended – and specifically what the consequences were to killing the maids of Odysseus’ court for the crime of being taken advantage of by the suitors.

It sounds like a lot of fun, looking at the injustice of how female characters are treated in old stories. And, as a bonus, it has a gorgeous cover.

Most Viewed Post

My top two most viewed posts for February are the same as in January, but this time their order is reversed. As I expected, the number of hits thanks to WIN LOSE KILL DIE getting another TikTok burst tailed off sharply (dropping to about 40%.) This did not happen for the other title.

The hits for CHILDREN OF RUIN, by Adrian Tchaikovsky, didn’t tail off but actually increased (but only by 10% ), leading it to take both the top spot for the month and now the most viewed post overall. I think this has to be due to the fact that the US release of the third book in the series (CHILDREN OF MEMORY) was the very end of January, so interest in the series as a whole was still high.

I have absolutely no idea, though, what the trends are going to be for this coming month! I suspect CHILDREN OF RUIN will slack off sharply as we move further from release, but what will take its place is anyone’s guess.

How was your February?


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