February in Review | adventure log

(Last Updated On: March 13, 2021)
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The Adventure Log is my monthly wrap-up post!

How is it the middle of March? How? I feel like I slept through the beginning of the month because I genuinely don’t know how we’re halfway through the month already. The good news is that I’ve gotten some reading in this month… but that’s a story for next month’s adventure log! (I guess this is a good reason to do these wrap-ups at the beginning of the month, eh?)

Let’s look at what I read in February and check in on how I’m doing with my 2021 goals, shall we?

Books I Read

The reading slump from January wormed its way into the first two weeks of February, but I was able to fight it off and get a lot more reading done!

5

Books Read

1900

Pages Read

4

Average Rating

cover for f*ck no!

f*ck no!:: How to Stop Saying Yes When You Can’t, You Shouldn’t, or You Just Don’t Want To by Sarah Knight

I love this book. The narrative style. The puns. The snark. The flowcharts! Not only does this book delve into the various ways we can say no with hundreds of examples to choose from, but gets deep with the various reasons why we feel obligated to say yes.

Fun and lighthearted, Knight’s tone feels like a friend giving you advice. (I also just loved the near page of Pepsi bashing.) I particularly appreciated and bookmarked the negotiation & coworker sections; I expect I’ll refer to it next time my internet provider tries to increase my rate!


Ink in the Blood cover artwork

Ink in the Blood (Ink in the Blood #1) by Kim Smejkal

Read my spoiler-free ARC Review

✨ Still amazing after a re-read before diving into Curse of the Divine!

Smekjal’s writing is lush and beautiful with beautiful descriptions but is also fast-paced and engaging. The magic system and world-building is vast and unique. Some readers may struggle with the beginning but once Act II begins, the magic truly beings.


cover for Curse of the Divine

Curse of the Divine (Ink in the Blood #1) by Kim Smejkal

Read my spoiler-free ARC Review

Ink in the Blood was one of my favorite reads of 2020, and this duology conclusion is a satisfying expansion of the world and resolution to the world Smejkal crafted… but the pain for our characters has just begun.

The keyword here being pain. Poor Celia has gone through so much and this book tackles her grief and guilt while also effectively taking away her support system. But there’s a giant bee named Xinto who is adorable.


cover for Lost in the Never Woods

Lost in the Never Woods by Aiden Thomas

Read my spoiler-free ARC Review

Lost in the Never Woods is a dark and twisty fantasy retelling of Peter Pan that’s ultimately about growing up too fast, processing trauma and loss, recapturing a bit of childhood wonder, and moving forward in life.

Heartbreakingly beautiful, this book will stay with you long after reading. It’s different from Aidan’s debut Cemetery Boys (it’s white, cis, and m/f), but that doesn’t mean this isn’t a story worth reading: the mental health representation means a lot to me.


cover for Sirens of Titan

Sirens of Titan by Kim Smejkal

It’s interesting to read favorites from Kurt Vonnegut now. He’s longtime been my favorite author and I credit Vonnegut with getting me into genre fiction / science fiction. But my tastes as a reader have changed, and it’s kind of sad to re-read a book with so many good memories attached to it and have them… tainted.

While Sirens of Titan certainly doesn’t age as badly as Cat’s Cradle, I didn’t enjoy Malachi’s story as much this time around. I forever love the Tralfmadorian concept of time as well as the “disinterested Universe” take – it’s obvious a lot of my worldview was shaped by reading Vonnegut in my teenage years. And I know that Malachi is meant to be an unlikeable character unworthy of the luck and fortune he experienced in life, and everything still serves to drive home the central theme of free will… but it’s harder to stomach in 2021.

Reading Statistics

Charts, charts charts! I love data and want to highlight some reading statistics (get these charts for yourself with the 2021 Reading Spreadsheet Template) each month.

I am actually quite impressed with my reading range here; you can tell I’ve been mood reading. Still mostly fantasy reads but I like that my new vs backlist was split evenly for the most part.

You can check out my reading statistics for February on The StoryGraph! See information about the reads like pace and mood that I don’t normally keep track of on my spreadsheet but find endlessly interesting. (Like how were most of my reads slow paced? Is this why I slump?)


ARC Mountain

The Reader Voracious ARC Mountain is back! My attempt at an ARC ban last year kind of failed, but this year I do want to keep track of my ARC obligations a bit better.

My goal for the year is to keep up with 2021 and read backlisted ARCs as I’m able to, and I’m doing great! Well, maybe not great but after 2020 it is a drastic improvement. 1 out of my 3 ARC reads in February was off my long-abandoned backlist (2019 title!), and the others were read in accordance with publication dates. It feels good.

My TBR on the other hand… it grew. By 5. But in my defense, a few of the books in that number were unsolicited! And 14 is my current ARC total as of March 13, 2021 so I may as well add the shame of this month in lol.

February Book Haul

I don’t separate haul posts every month anymore, but many of you enjoy them so I include them in my wrap-ups! Please remember your worth as a reader or blogger is not dependent on the number of books you own or receive.

Physical books I purchased in February 2021.
Not pictured: The Project by Courtney Summers

The Project by Courtney Summers

Publisher: Wednesday Books  |  Publication Date: February 2, 2020
Pages: 352  |  Age Range: Young Adult |  Genre: Thriller

my B&N edition of The ProjectThe Barnes & Noble Exclusive Edition includes an exclusive cover design, an annotated chapter, a bonus chapter, and three unique graphics!

Lo Denham is used to being on her own. After her parents died, Lo’s sister, Bea, joined The Unity Project, leaving Lo in the care of their great aunt. Thanks to its extensive charitable work and community outreach, The Unity Project has won the hearts and minds of most in the Upstate New York region, but Lo knows there’s more to the group than meets the eye. She’s spent the last six years of her life trying—and failing—to prove it.

When a man shows up at the magazine Lo works for claiming The Unity Project killed his son, Lo sees the perfect opportunity to expose the group and reunite with Bea once and for all. When her investigation puts her in the direct path of its leader, Lev Warren and as Lo delves deeper into The Project, the lives of its members it upends everything she thought she knew about her sister, herself, cults, and the world around her—to the point she can no longer tell what’s real or true. Lo never thought she could afford to believe in Lev Warren . . . but now she doesn’t know if she can afford not to.

Spoiler-Free ARC Review

My best friend borrowed my copy from me and while I love her I NEED the read those bonus chapters! 😭


My Calamity Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows

Publisher: Harper Teen  |  Publication Date: June 2, 2020
Pages: 544  |  Age Range: Young Adult |  Genre: Historical Fiction, Retelling

Cover for My Calamity JaneWelcome ​to 1876 and a rootin’-tootin’ America bursting with gunslingers, outlaws, and garou.

JANE (a genuine hero-eene)

Calamity’s her name, and garou hunting’s her game—when she’s not starring in Wild Bill’s Traveling Show, that is. She reckons that if a girl wants to be a legend, she should just go ahead and be one.

FRANK (*wolf whistle*)
Frank “the Pistol Prince” Butler is the Wild West’s #1 bachelor. He’s also the best sharpshooter on both sides of the Mississippi, but he’s about to meet his match. . . .

ANNIE (get your gun!)
Annie Oakley (yep, that Annie) is lookin’ for a job, not a romance, but she can’t deny there’s something about Frank she likes. Really likes. Still, she’s pretty sure that anything he can do, she can do better.

A HAIRY SITUATION
After a garou hunt goes south and Jane finds a suspicious-like bite on her arm, she turns tail for Deadwood, where there’s been talk of a garou cure. But things ain’t always what they seem—meaning the gang better hightail it after her before they’re a day late and a Jane short.

Finally got around to picking this up on a Barnes & Noble excursion! I love these books and I love the Wild West. You know what, this may be my next read.


All the Tides of Fate by Adalyn Grace

Publisher: Imprint  |  Publication Date: February 2, 2021
Pages: 388  |  Age Range: Young Adult |  Genre: Fantasy

cover for All the Tides of FateThrough blood and sacrifice, Amora Montara has conquered a rebellion and taken her rightful place as queen of Visidia. Now, with the islands in turmoil and the people questioning her authority, Amora cannot allow anyone to see her weaknesses.

No one can know about the curse in her bloodline. No one can know that she’s lost her magic. No one can know the truth about the boy who holds the missing half of her soul.

To save herself and Visidia, Amora embarks on a desperate quest for a mythical artifact that could fix everything―but it comes at a terrible cost. As she tries to balance her loyalty to her people, her crew, and the desires of her heart, Amora will soon discover that the power to rule might destroy her.

I preordered this book ages ago and am so happy it arrived! I adored All the Stars and Teeth and can’t wait to see how this fantasy adventure duology ends.


Wings of Ebony by J. Elle

Publisher: Simon & Schuster  |  Publication Date: January 6, 2021
Pages: 368  |  Age Range: Young Adult |  Genre: Fantasy

cover for Wings of Ebony“Make a way out of no way” is just the way of life for Rue. But when her mother is shot dead on her doorstep, life for her and her younger sister changes forever. Rue’s taken from her neighborhood by the father she never knew, forced to leave her little sister behind, and whisked away to Ghizon—a hidden island of magic wielders.

Rue is the only half-god, half-human there, where leaders protect their magical powers at all costs and thrive on human suffering. Miserable and desperate to see her sister on the anniversary of their mother’s death, Rue breaks Ghizon’s sacred Do Not Leave Law and returns to Houston, only to discover that Black kids are being forced into crime and violence. And her sister, Tasha, is in danger of falling sway to the very forces that claimed their mother’s life.

Worse still, evidence mounts that the evil plaguing East Row is the same one that lurks in Ghizon—an evil that will stop at nothing until it has stolen everything from her and everyone she loves. Rue must embrace her true identity and wield the full magnitude of her ancestors’ power to save her neighborhood before the gods burn it to the ground.

I totally impulse bought this book at Barnes & Noble and am excited to read it.


The Great Gatsby and Other Works by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Publisher: Canterbury Classics  |  Publication Date: January 5, 2021
Pages: 736  |  Age Range: Adult |  Genre: Classics, Literary Fiction

Beautifu edition of The Great GatsbyThree of the great American novels by F. Scott Fitzgerald, the incomparable chronicler of the Jazz Age, are all together in one keepsake volume.

F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote some of the most acclaimed novels of the 20th century, and literary scholars regard him as one of the finest American writers of all time. His stories were the stories of the “Lost Generation,” Americans who came of age after World War I, amid Prohibition and the rise of jazz, and who responded to the uncertainty and change of the time by living each day to the hilt. Included in this attractive, leather-bound volume of Fitzgerald’s most notable long-form works are tales of wealth, romance, and scandal: The Great GatsbyThis Side of Paradise, and The Beautiful and the Damned. It’s a time capsule of America in the 1920s and 1930s.

You GUYS. I was just minding my own business, wandering Barnes & Noble and this book was just sitting in Literary Fiction, face out, waiting for me. I’ve been trying to get the b&n exclusive edition of Fitzgerald’s work but I like this one so much better.


Barack Obama Speeches by Barack Obama

Publisher: Canterbury Classics  |  Publication Date: October 6, 2020
Pages: 704  |  Age Range: Adult |  Genre: Nonfiction, Politics

cover for Barack Obama SpeechesInspirational speeches from America’s first African American president.

You’ll be inspired to be the change you wish to see in the world as you read through this collection of speeches delivered by Barack Obama. These messages of hope for a more perfect union in America will appeal to readers across the political spectrum. From pre-presidential oratory to his farewell address, the former president covers issues of race, unemployment, natural disasters, public tragedies, and his legacy of health care reform. This beautiful leather-bound volume with a foil-stamped cover design will become one of your most treasured library volumes.

New ARC Arrivals

It is a truth universally acknowledged that the less I read, the more books will find their way to me. I’m truly blessed and so thankful that publishers send me books* to read and review but admit I feel pretty guilty that I’ve read less than 160 pages in the past two months.

Photo of an arc copy of BACCHANAL
Physical Review Copies received in January 2021

* In the coming months, I hope to bring Flapping Pages out of hiatus and pass along some of the books I receive. Be sure to sign up for the mailing list to be notified when the program regains its wings!


Bacchanal by Veronica Henry

Publisher: 47North  |  Publication Date: May 25, 2021
Pages: 352  |  Age Range: Adult |  Genre: Fantasy

cover for BacchanalEvil lives in a traveling carnival roaming the Depression-era South. But the carnival’s newest act, a peculiar young woman with latent magical powers, may hold the key to defeating it. Her time has come.

Abandoned by her family, alone on the wrong side of the color line with little to call her own, Eliza Meeks is coming to terms with what she does have. It’s a gift for communicating with animals. To some, she’s a magical tender. To others, a she-devil. To a talent prospector, she’s a crowd-drawing oddity. And the Bacchanal Carnival is Eliza’s ticket out of the swamp trap of Baton Rouge.

Among fortune-tellers, carnies, barkers, and folks even stranger than herself, Eliza finds a new home. But the Bacchanal is no ordinary carnival. An ancient demon has a home there too. She hides behind an iridescent disguise. She feeds on innocent souls. And she’s met her match in Eliza, who’s only beginning to understand the purpose of her own burgeoning powers.

Only then can Eliza save her friends, find her family, and fight the sway of a primordial demon preying upon the human world. Rolling across a consuming dust bowl landscape, Eliza may have found her destiny.

I had no idea this book was a thing and it arrived in my mailbox and my gods!!?! I am so excited for this debut adult fantasy!


All the Murmuring Bones by A.G. Slatter

Publisher: Titan Books  |  Publication Date: March 9, 2021
Pages: 368  |  Age Range: Adult |  Genre: Fantasy

cover for All the Murmuring BonesLong ago Miren O’Malley’s family prospered due to a deal struck with the Mer: safety for their ships in return for a child of each generation. But for many years the family have been unable to keep their side of the bargain and have fallen into decline. Miren’s grandmother is determined to restore their glory, even at the price of Miren’s freedom.

A spellbinding tale of dark family secrets, magic and witches, and creatures of myth and the sea; of strong women and the men who seek to control them.

ARC Review to come on 3/16/21 for Blog Tour

THIS COVER! Mermaids and other oceanic mythological creatures? Gothic fiction? Yes please!


eARCs received in February - book covers
eARCs received in February

The Ones We’re Meant to Find by Joan He

Publisher: Roaring Book Press  |  Publication Date: May 4, 2021
Pages: 384  |  Age Range: Young Adult |  Genre: Contemporary, Science Fiction

cover The Ones We're Meant to FindOne of the most twisty, surprising, engaging page-turner YAs you’ll read this year—We Were Liars meets Black Mirror, with a dash of Studio Ghibli.

Cee awoke on an abandoned island three years ago. With no idea of how she was marooned, she only has a rickety house, an old android, and a single memory: she has a sister, and Cee needs to find her.

STEM prodigy Kasey wants escape from the science and home she once trusted. The eco-city—Earth’s last unpolluted place—is meant to be sanctuary for those committed to planetary protection, but it’s populated by people willing to do anything for refuge, even lie. Now, she’ll have to decide if she’s ready to use science to help humanity, even though it failed the people who mattered most.

I am so excited for Joan’s next book!!! I loved Descendant of the Crane so much and am looking forward to being emotionally destroyed again lol.


Dead Dead Girls by Nekesa Afia

Publisher: Berkley Books  |  Publication Date: June 1, 2021
Pages: 320  |  Age Range: Adult |  Genre: Historical Fiction, Thriller, LGBT

cover for Dead Dead GirlsThe start of an exciting new historical mystery series set in 1920s Harlem featuring Louise Lloyd, a young black woman caught up in a series of murders way too close to home…

Harlem, 1926. Young black girls like Louise Lloyd are ending up dead.

Following a harrowing kidnapping ordeal when she was in her teens, Louise is doing everything she can to maintain a normal life. She’s succeeding, too. She spends her days working at Maggie’s Café and her nights at the Zodiac, Manhattan’s hottest speakeasy. Louise’s friends might say she’s running from her past and the notoriety that still stalks her, but don’t tell her that.

When a girl turns up dead in front of the café, Louise is forced to confront something she’s been trying to ignore–several local black girls have been murdered over the past few weeks. After an altercation with a local police officer gets her arrested, Louise is given an ultimatum: She can either help solve the case or let a judge make an example of her.

Louise has no choice but to take the case and soon finds herself toe-to-toe with a murderous mastermind. She’ll have to tackle her own fears and the prejudices of New York City society if she wants to catch a killer and save her own life in the process.

😭😭😭 I feel like 2021 is bringing all sorts of Jazz Age books and I am here for it! GIVE ME ALL THE ART DECO VIBES with diverse Historical Fiction.

2021 Goals Check-In

⛰️ decreased post frequency: definitely did a bit better than in January with keeping a schedule but not pushing too hard. There were 7 posts – more than double January! I was below my 12 monthly maximum but did falter toward the end of the month. Hopefully I can get back to consistently spread out content lol.

⛰️ keep up with comments: I did so much better! Managed to get them every 1-2 weeks in February and it is amazing how that simple act alleviated a bunch of blog stress.

⛰️ incorporating hiking/outdoors content: I have a few post ideas and excursions planned, waiting for the energy and right weather.

⛰️ new series: books & beverages I am plotting a Spring themed list for sometime in April!

⛰️ revive reading around the globe guest post series: currently seeking interviewees. Comment or DM me if you’d be interested in taking part.

Personal Update

Every day bleeds into the next and time has no meaning, but my best friend and I (bubble buddies) spent a few days in Twentynine Palms and Joshua Tree as our belated birthday celebration. Which was lovely!

There was no one for quite a bit where we were, nothing but vast desert surrounded our new favorite AirBnB. Sunsets were gorgeous but difficult to capture on film, and I was never awake to see the sunrises but they are supposed to be stunning. That hammock photo is basically my fave.

All our clues laid out on the table... and our snacks.
Solving a mystery!

We watched Forensic Files and Joe Kenda for two days, interspersed with working on a murder mystery box. Which honestly was my favorite one yet – it had all sorts of literature references and led us down a Google rabbit hole about The King in Yellow. It was so cool how motifs from the play within that short story were woven into the mystery! This particular box was the Deadbolt Society’s Sanitarium (standalone; not affiliated) in case you’re interested.

Other than my getaway, February was… rough. I don’t talk a lot about my personal life on main/in public, but I have decided to open up more about my health struggles and more in my monthly Patreon Updates. There’s never any pressure to join, but if that’s something you’d be interested in – for as little as $2 a month you can support me & my content, along with some cool features that are in the pipeline but need funding.

Posts I loved

I did blog hop a little bit in February, YAY!!! Most of the month was bad for me on the blog hopping front but I’m doing a little better. Here are four posts I saw that you all need to read.

Let’s Chat!

Well… that’s my February in review! Mostly it was a month of trying to get into the swing of daily habits and fighting real-life stuff trying to bring me down.

💬 How was your February? Did you do anything fun?

💬 What books did you read and enjoy?

💬 Any new books you want to screech about?


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Let’s go on another adventure together!

19 Comments

  1. Asha @ A Cat, A Book, And A Cup Of Tea

    March 14, 2021 at 3:01 AM

    I have Ink in the Blood on my TBR and I’m so excited now, seeing what you thought!

    1. Kal

      March 22, 2021 at 10:05 AM

      YES! Ink in the Blood is such a good (and underrated?) book, so I’m excited for you to pick it up and can’t hear what you think.

  2. Alienor

    March 14, 2021 at 6:10 AM

    I had never heard about F*ck no! but it’s definitely something I’ll want to look into. Great post!

    1. Kal

      March 22, 2021 at 10:05 AM

      Apparently, this author has like 7 of these “No f*cks Given” books and tbh? I need them all. Thanks for reading!

  3. Sally

    March 14, 2021 at 6:20 AM

    I’m probably not your traditional book blogger but I’d be interested in taking part in your reading around the globe series. I live in Wales 😊

    Wild-and-green.blog

    1. Kal

      March 22, 2021 at 10:06 AM

      Hi Sally! I’d love to have you join the series, any readers from non-US are welcome! What’s the best way to reach you?

  4. Kristi Housman

    March 14, 2021 at 7:23 AM

    We are really hoping to get to Joshua Tree this year. Glad you got to go for your birthday!

    1. Kal

      March 22, 2021 at 10:07 AM

      I hope you’re able to make it out there, it was just what I needed to get away from people and have a change of scenery a year into the pandemic. I am still thinking about Joshua Tree Coffee… need to go back

  5. Sumedha

    March 15, 2021 at 6:30 AM

    Looks like you had a good reading month! It’s great that you’re having progress on the reading ARCs and blogging fronts. But also, this post is formatted so well! With the scroll boxes, dividers, book covers, and that little bit in the middle showing number of books, pages and ratings. It looks so good!
    I’d love to take part in your reading around the globe series!
    Hope you have a great March 🙂

    1. Kal

      March 22, 2021 at 10:10 AM

      Thank you so much for your lovely comment & compliment, Sumedha! It definitely was nice to have a small return to “normalcy” and “progress” after such a shit year.

      I’d love to have you for the Reading Around the Globe series! Should we chat about it in twitter DM?

  6. Tasya @ The Literary Huntress

    March 15, 2021 at 7:49 PM

    That Sarah Knight book sounds so good. I always want to give them a try and it just sounds like something I need right now.

    1. Kal

      March 22, 2021 at 10:11 AM

      Honestly I can’t recommend that Sarah Knight book enough, it was a delight in tone and truly helpful.

  7. Caro @ bookcheshirecat

    March 16, 2021 at 3:34 AM

    Time flies by so fast, I cannot believe we’re so far into March as well 😱 So happy to see that you’ve been loving Lost in the Never Woods, that makes me so excited to read it when it comes out! 🥰 I also hope that you enjoy My Calamity Jane, I read it last year and it was so much fun 🙂

    1. Kal

      March 22, 2021 at 10:16 AM

      Time is such a weird construct, it is both so fast and painfully slow. What is this contradictory sorcery?! I really enjoyed Lost in the Never Woods… and My Calamity Jane is a freaking HOOT! I was nervous I wouldn’t like it because I didn’t enjoy My Plain Jane that much, but I think that was a failure of the retelling for me as I am a ᴴᴼᴱ for Jane Eyre, lol

  8. Jayati

    March 18, 2021 at 12:21 AM

    March has been such a blur for me too so far and I can’t believe we’re halfway through??
    I love the pics you took on your trip and am glad you got to have fun! Hope March is better for you and your mental Health! And wow, you got such great ARCs, hope you enjoy them!

    1. Kal

      March 22, 2021 at 10:23 AM

      Like how??? Is March almost finished? Where does the time go when I literally don’t leave my flat?

      Thank you so much, Jayati! February was a decent month thanks to the getaway, and I have been reading a bit this month which is nice. I hope you’re having a lovely March!

  9. Annemieke

    March 18, 2021 at 11:36 PM

    So curious about Lost in the never woods. It sounds so good.

  10. Marie @ drizzle & hurricane books

    March 26, 2021 at 5:30 AM

    Ah Lost in the Never Woods sounds really good, I’m so glad to see you enjoyed it so much. and i’m so excited for you to read the ones we’re meant to find, I hope you’ll love it! <3
    those pictures are so lovely, making me want to get away for sure <3 I hope March has been kind to you <3

    1. Kal

      March 30, 2021 at 12:39 PM

      It is such a treasure of a book and I hope everyone else adores it as much as I do. <3 And I was going to read towmtf next but need a soul cleanse before it gets destroyed again lol.

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