January and February 2019 Reads (Goodreads)

It’s the start of the New Year (well, it was in January, at least)! And since I didn’t get much reading done that month, I’ve decided to combine January and February. I read some good stuff these past couple months, and I just thought I’d share!


Red and Black, Nancy O’Toole Meservier

What a fun, action-packed superhero adventure! I had so much fun following Miss Red and Black as she fights crime, rescues people, and investigates a string of kidnappings. This is a true superhero story from beginning to end. Dawn is easy to love, the mystery element is engaging, and the drama is dialed up to eleven.

The only thing holding me back from a five-star review would be that the ending left me needing more closure. But since this is the first book in a series, that’s understandable.

I will definitely be reading book 2, and I suggest everyone reads this book if you’re a fan of superheroes.


The Last Dragon Princess, Cynthia Payne

The Last Dragon Princess started off slow, with the regular drama you would expect from a fantasy book about one princess and many suitors. But very soon, the story became an all-out, desperate fight for survival full of betrayal, death, and breath-taking dragons. Danu’s growth is a journey, and there are many lovable characters along the way!

I’ve never been a fan of dragon shifting, but Danu’s story made me excited to follow her strange yet beautiful culture and to see her keep hope alive for her people. Her world is made of meaningful detail and interesting deconstruction of mythology. My favorite scene involved fire and a windstorm…I won’t go into it for spoilers, but it was so powerful! The Last Dragon Princess comes highly recommended.


The Refugees, Viet Thanh Nguyen

This is a collection of short stories that tug on your heartstrings and makes you see the same type of story from different perspectives. With a collection revolving around a specific theme – in this case, refugees – it’s always interesting to see how an author will insert some variety into each narrative. But Viet Thanh Nguyen makes use of every page, every paragraph, every word, and the result is a string of coherent stories with raw emotion that all fit together perfectly.

My favorite story is “Black-Eyed Women,” the first short story in the collection. There are some stories that didn’t quite click with me, mostly because of a very subtle message underlying the narrative. But every single story has a feeling of unresolved tension, each ending leaving an impact.

It’s obvious that a lot of thought, craft, and care went into this collection, and it shows. Highly recommended!



Essence, Mandi Lynn

Essence is a heart-breaking and heart-mending story of Emma, a girl who was separated from half her soul at birth. After moving from her home in Florida, she becomes increasingly drawn to the forest by her new home, where she finds a mysterious lagoon that draws her into a bitter-sweet situation: Emma’s body is dead, but her spirit lives on.

As Emma watches her family and friends go through life without her, I found myself falling deeper and deeper into the heart of her situation. At times, the story seemed to move a bit slowly, and the philosophical commentary became a little heavy sometimes. However, the slower pacing fits well with Emma’s quiet contemplation as she struggles to come to terms with her own death.

The description is on point, the characters are likable, and the ending – oh, that ending is beautiful. The slow pace and quiet lack of action isn’t the style of book that I usually enjoy, but it truly works for this story, and it’s obvious how much thought was put into this.


August, Romina Paula


PhotoEmilia struggles to come to terms with her own discontent with her life when she needs to return to Patagonia to scatter the ashes of her childhood friend. What follows is a complicated and intimate story of self-acceptance, facing your issues, and moving on.

The stream-of-consciousness writing for August really works to highlight the internal turmoil of the main character, but it can be confusing at times. While the main character’s thoughts are normally very jumbled because of her mental and emotional state, this strength of the writing style also ends up being its weakness.

Perhaps a lot of the clarity issues I ran into can be attributed to the fact that this is the English translation, as many nuances tend to be lost in translation. If I could read this in its original language, I would. But as it is, this style isn’t for me.


That’s what I got for the start of the year! Here’s to a new year full of new reads…

by Brooke Lark on Unsplash