I felt like I read a lot in February but the number of books I finished was around the same as in January. It's because I read more books that took me longer to read. Since one of my goals is to read longer books, it's a win.

In February, I read 8 books—5 ebooks, 2 paperbacks, and 2 audiobooks. I also read in a range of genres which I'm proud of. I didn't enjoy all of them but I tried. The thought counts.

surrender by rilzy adams

surrender by rilzy adams

I highly enjoyed Go Deep by Rilzy Adams and have been searching for another such book by the author ever since. Unfortunately, haven't found it yet.

Yara and Lennox were best friends and made a pact that if they were single in twelve years, they would give each other a shot. Fast forward to twelve years, Lennox demands that chance and things blow up between them.

Surrender is a short story with no plot and lots of spice. I knew it going in but I still expected it to have some substantial plot. It did not and hence I couldn't enjoy it.

The book would be great if you're looking for a no-plot-only-spice book but it's not my thing. The story is a best-friends-to-lovers one and it would have been great for me as a full book. The synopsis is interesting. But every page was filled with sexual tension or sex and I couldn't like it. I need more bonding and more connection and slow relationship development.

Overall, not for me.

if cats disappeared from the world by genki kawamura

if cats disappeared from the world by genki kawamura

I suggested this book for the January pick to my book club because it sounded very interesting. It is also short and can be finished (as an audiobook) in 3-4 sittings. Unfortunately, I couldn't join my book club when they were listening to this book because I was working late all those days ? and couldn't join the discussions as well. A pity because this book would have been great to listen to and discuss together. I read it on my own time and finished it in February, though.

If Cats Disappeared from the World is about a dying man who gets offered a deal by the devil. As long as he chooses to make one thing disappear from the world every day, he gets another day to live. He lives alone and works as a postman and—by his words—hasn't had an eventful life. He hasn't done everything he wants to, hasn't spoken to his father in years, and hasn't appreciated the small things in life.

Now that he is dying and every day is a bargain, he begins to do what he wants to do and ponders about life a lot. He recollects the past, thinks about what he won't be able to do because he is dying, and what he simply did not do because he took life for granted.

I love how he truly considered the consequences of making things disappear and, in the end, why he chose to die. It was an introspective book which was somber but not too sad. Through the narrator, we are shown the beauty of daily life and how we should always appreciate the people we love and take opportunities.

I highly recommend the book.

less by andrew sean greer

less by andrew sean greer

As I mentioned in my post about how I acquire books, I'm trying to pick up random books at the bookstore instead of only going for ones I've come across on before. I saw Less at the bookstore, skimmed the synopsis at the back, and simply bought it. It also had a sticker saying that it was a Pulitzer prize-winning book. I had no clue what to really expect.

Less is about a middle-aged gay White man running away from his problems by accepting invitations to events around the world. Yes, it is as first-world as it sounds. Arthur Less, a not-so-popular author, receives a wedding invitation from his former lover and decides to avoid it by running away under the pretences of being "busy." It works out that most of the events pay for his travel and stay so he is saved from going into financial ruin. And amongst all that, he vows to write a new book because his last manuscript was rejected.

Firstly, I don't know what kind of fiction this is. I will not call it "literary" fiction. If it was written by a woman and starred a woman, it would have been named "Women's Fiction" and would have been way more interesting. The book is literally about a boring man running away from his problems and being able to do it because he is a White man and privileged. The only "different" thing about the book was the man being queer but I honestly could not care less about his problems.

The writing was pretty random. We jumped between the past and present often without much coherence. The main character was not decisive at all unless forced to be. He lives passively till the end. There were a lot of boring parts to get through to reach the few good paragraphs at the end and they weren't worth all the trouble. The end was quite predictable because of several clues. The book tried to be a little like a love story without being a love story (and failed).

I tried to be open-minded and waited to see if it would turn out revelatory. It was a waste of effort. I unhauled it the day after I finished it.

The only part that I appreciated was the book being a little self-aware about its worth. Arthur Less's last manuscript was rejected because it was about the daily life and ponderings and first-world problems of a middle-aged White gay man. His editor said that it wasn't interesting enough for anyone to care. I wonder how this book did not get rejected in the real world and how it won the Pulitzer prize.

I have decided to not believe such prizes anymore and that the world is really much kinder to White men. I have never seen such a book by a woman or an author of colour. Their books need to contain multitudes and compete against every other book to be published. And then there's Less winning a Pulitzer prize and having a sequel with the EXACT SAME PLOT. Hurray, publishing.

invisible women by caroline criado pérez

invisible women by caroline criado perez

In an effort to read varied books this year, I joined the Feminist Reading Project created by Surbhi. January's book club pick was Invisible Women but I wasn't able to finish it that month so it spilt over.

Confession: I actually haven't finished the book. I DNFed it at 52%. It was a good read with a lot of good information but it was not easy to read. There were a lot of numbers and long chapters with no breaks. I appreciated the intent of the author to put forth all of the data available and point out the gaps but it just wasn't written well. Although the book is broken down by topics as chapters, each chapter encompassed a lot. There weren't logical breaks or easy transitions from one minor topic to the next.

There were good points being made but the book did not keep me engaged. The only way to read it easily is to skim-read and gloss over the numbers. But the numbers are the point of the book!

I had to force myself to pick up the book multiple times and found myself easily distracted. One time, I put the book down to stare at the wall. It was hard to read. I would have read two to three books in the amount of time I spent reading half of this book.

After half the book, I decided to simply DNF it. It was taking too much time and effort. Finding out that the author is a TERF and that trans people don't factor into any of the considerations or numbers made it harder for me to care about continuing the book.

Overall, a good concept and poorly written. The aim of the author is to point out data gaps and their repercussions but if trans people are not factored in, the author has failed even after everything. There are better feminist books to read and I hope that another (unbiased) author writes a better book pointing out data gaps.

jasper vale by devney perry

jasper vale by devney perry

Along with Less and Invisible Women, I needed a romance book to keep me going so that I don't fall into a reading slump. I've said it before and I'll say it again: romance books are the best to counter reading slumps. They keep me from falling into one and get me out when I have.

I've read the first 2 books in the series and absolutely loved the second book Juniper Hill. When I heard that this was released and saw a ton of praise for it, I immediately got it. Jasper Vale started out chaotic and not-so-great but as the book went on, I fell in love with it. I really liked the slow relationship growth after an impulsive decision and the ways in which the main characters started caring for each other.

Eloise and Jasper are very different people but they totally fit together and I LOVED it when they simped for each other. After everything, I couldn't envision a good third-act breakup and am glad that we weren't given one. There was a tension aspect but it wasn't the regular breakup.

I am dissatisfied that Eloise's tension with her parents which has been brewing for the last few books was not resolved properly. The book ended happily but that issue was not brought up and resolved properly. That's the only complaint I have with the book.

Overall, a good romance.

the devil gets his due by elizabeth o'roark

the devil gets his due by elizabeth o'roark

It has been a while since I read a romance book with an accidental pregnancy trope so when I saw this being recommended highly by someone on Twitter, I decided to give it a shot. I was aware that with such a title, it might contain some cliches and I was ready for it.

Keeley and Graham have been at each other's throats ever since they had to organize a party for their best friends who were getting married. The chemistry was always there, though, so it didn't take long to turn into something else. They end up sleeping together while drunk and Keeley runs away to avoid the situation the next day. A few months later, she finds out that she is pregnant and everything changes.

Unfortunately, I didn't like this book much. My main problem was with the writing. The concept and the characters were good but the writing exaggerated things and made Keeley a very annoying person. I genuinely couldn't understand her appeal for almost half the book. It took a long time to understand where she was coming from and connect to her.

Graham was also painted as a "devil" when, in fact, there was nothing even slightly "devil" in him. Sure, he argued with Keeley and gave back what she threw at him. He did not even start the arguments with her. It was always Keeley throwing words first. Hence, the title The Devil Gets His Due is so very wrong for this book. There is no devil in the first place!

I did quite like how they warmed up to one another and started caring about each other. I hated how their relationship had several ups and downs just for the drama. After a while, they seemed like unreliable characters. It didn't fit, honestly. The book felt plot-driven and it felt like they would argue and make foolish decisions just to fill more pages.

Overall, not a great book. Wouldn't recommend it.

the last tale of the flower bride by roshani chokshi

the last tale of the flower bride by roshani chokshi

I saw that the ALC for this was available on Libro.fm and immediately got it. Although I've read only one book by the author, I loved it and I knew that I wanted to read this someday. Someday came quite soon because Fanna praised this book highly and I had to read it after seeing her posts on it.

The Last Tale of the Flower Bride is a magical story that jumps between the past and the present, unveiling dark secrets under loving relationships in both timelines. It follows a man as he uncovers who his wife really is by going against her wishes and prying into her past. Along with that, we see the wife's childhood and her relationship with her best friend (who has mysteriously disappeared).

The writing was beautiful and it made the book a magical thing. I listened to the audiobook and I could easily close my eyes and lose myself in the story. It swept me away from reality. The writing was on point. The gothic vibes came out so well and I loved how some things didn't make sense and we just had to believe it. <agic is unbelievable unless we forget the confines of reality.

Although the past and the present were given an almost equal amount of chapters, it felt like the past was more prominent. The story about the past was fast-paced and kept me on the edge. The present was more like a slow creep towards something inevitable. After a while, I didn't care about the present enough and only wanted to stay in the past.

Out of the three main characters, only one had layers. That annoyed me a little. There was a lot of time and effort spent on world-building and the characters took a backseat. That one character had significantly more focus and hence was expanded on.

The end was quite predictable because of the foreshadowing but the reveal was done well. I especially loved the vibe of those few chapters before and of the reveal. While listening to them, I shut off all the lights at home, lay on the bed, and let myself get lost in the story. It was great.

Overall, it was a beautiful fairytale. I liked that it is unlike regular fairytales and retellings. There were no references to mainstream fairytales. It was something new and intriguing.

jade city by fonda lee

jade city by fonda lee

I've seen talk about Jade City for YEARS and knew that I have to get to it someday. I picked up the paperback on a bookstore trip a few months back and waiting to be in the mood for a fantasy to pick it up. The time finally came.

Jade City is an intricate fantasy starring a powerful family, their rivals, politics, feuds, and more. It took a while to build up a good pace to keep me hooked but once I was invested in the characters, I finished the book in no time. It's about so many things at once but everything fits seamlessly without being messy.

The book's strongest point was its characters. Lee has written the book to be completely plot-driven and has used multiple POVs very well. Each person makes different decisions that alter the course drastically. Together, their decisions sometimes cancel out and exacerbate situations at other times. I was interested in every character and wanted to read more of all of them. The growth of one character was brilliant and I loved seeing it.

A writing tactic that worked well for this book was keeping short chapters. Multiple times, I found myself saying "just one more chapter" because the chapters were only a few pages long but I would end up reading for an extra hour. I was hooked and the short chapters made sure to hold me.

Overall, a really interesting book. I wouldn't say that it is one of my favourites but I thoroughly enjoyed it and am looking forward to reading the sequel.

xoxo by axie oh

xoxo by axie oh

I wanted to listen to the Daisy Jones and the Six audiobook before the show was released so I impulsively got a Storytel subscription without checking if it is available on the platform. I assumed that it would be and I was wrong. Since I had paid for the first month anyway, I decided to use the opportunity to read other books on my TBR.

I saw XOXO in the catalogue while browsing and went for it. It has been on my TBR for a long time. I expected it to be cute and light-hearted, which seemed like a good idea for an audiobook. I forgot that it is a young adult book because I don't do well with YA nowadays.

XOXO is about Jenny, a teenage cellist, who meets Kaewoo, a strange Korean boy, at her workplace and has a good time with him without realizing that he is a popular K-pop artist. Coincidentally, she and her mom move to Seoul for a few months to be closer to her grandmom and she ends up in the same performing arts school as Jaewoo. A teenage love story ensues.

I did not like the book. It is a good Young Adult book (especially with the friendship aspects and working hard for your dreams) but the romance was not my thing. I didn't like the secret relationship, I didn't like a lot of the dialogues and scenes, and I especially did not like how some things with potential weren't fleshed out. The author gave us glimpses of other things like Jenny's struggles with her music and simply left them. The supporting characters had so much potential to be of more importance but they weren't.

A few chapters into the book, I felt like I was reading a self-insert fanfic. That feeling did not go away. The book holds all of the elements of a fanfic—from the adoring view of the K-pop industry and the way the artists are appreciated. We also get a glimpse into the K-pop fan life. The part that made it feel like fanfiction the most was Jaewoo being the super popular guy with a cool guy friend who falls in love with this random American girl.

The only good part about the book was that it was short and easy to get through. I finished the book in two sittings. I sped up the audiobook after a while which helped me get through the parts I didn't like.

Overall, this book wasn't for me. I might have enjoyed it as a teenager but reading it now, I clearly understand that YA romances are not for me at the moment.

chat with me!

What did you read in February? What was your best read? Have you read any of the books that I mentioned above? Tell me in the comments!

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Sumedha spends her days reading books, bingeing Kdramas, drawing illustrations, and blogging while listening to Lo-Fi music. Read more ➔

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  • Raji (@journeyintofantasy) says:

    It's great that you read across so many genres! That's one of my reading goals this year and it's actually so hard because I keep reaching for books from the genres I'm comfortable with. The Last Tale of the Flower Bride is one I've been considering adding to my TBR for a while because I've loved most of Roshani Chokshi's books so far, and your review has convinced me to read it! Thanks for sharing Sumedha!

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    • sumedha @ the wordy habitat says:

      Thank you! I agree, it is hard. I have been reaching for only romance in the last few days haha so Feb won’t be like Jan, so I understand. Oh if you’ve liked Chokshi’s books before, you will love this one too!

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  • Anoushka says:

    SUMEDHA OH MY GOSH YAY ON SO MANY GOOD BOOKS!!!! reading your thoughts on flower bride and jade city HAVE KIND OF MADE ME DESPERATE TO GET TO THEM BOTH BECAUSE ADDICTING FANTASY?? ITS THE BEST KIND. I'm sorry less was a disaster though ? THAT SUCKS because the synopsis sounds so intriguing?? but HA will steer clear from it now, THANK YOU. Fingers crossed march is THE BEST MONTH for you!!!!!!

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  • Clo @ Cuppa Clo says:

    I was uhm bitten by a reading bug last month, I read 7 books I think? It was a lot but I was having a lot of fun rereading one of my favourite series hehe (Guild Codex: Spellbound is the one I started rereading). I still need to continue that reread. Ok so I think I will try The Last Tale of the Flower Bride and hope I like it because The Gilded Wolves just wasn't for me. I am still so sad about that but it is what it is. XOXO is on my tbr as is Jade City so I hope I enjoy them both whenever I get round to reading them. I'm sorry XOXO wasn't for you, it's always sad when you get through a book and are left realising it just wasn't right for you.

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    • sumedha @ the wordy habitat says:

      Oh i’ve been seeing your reading updates on IG and i love this reading bug for you!! especially how you’re enjoying rereading, i really want to reread a fav series sometime and have this much fun haha.
      I think you will love XOXO, actually. it was just not my scene but it could be yours. and Jade City as well!

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  • Max Ethan says:

    I always enjoy finding out your thoughts - though I know we tend to have different tastes. The Green Bone Saga was a recent favorite of mine, though I'm slightly baffled at your comment about short chapters!

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    • sumedha @ the wordy habitat says:

      I find it interesting to read opinions from people with different tastes too, there's such different perspectives about the same books.
      Noo so another person mentioned remembering long chapters in Jade City too but I actually found them to be short! Maybe because my paperback copy had a small font and it was around 5 (double sided) pages in each chapter? I kept flipping to see how long the next chapter was and would continue reading because it was achievable soon haha.

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  • Molly's Book Nook says:

    I'm currently reading The Last Tale of the Flower Bride and I'm not loving the writing. It's a little too...try-hard...for me. BUT I'm enjoying the mystery and I don't absolutely HATE the writing, so I'm continuing. Jade City is on my TBR.

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    • sumedha @ the wordy habitat says:

      ah I get what you mean by try-hard, especially when the author goes too hard on the descriptions at times to set the vibe. i hope it turns out satisfactory for you!

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  • abookowlscorner says:

    One the one hand, I'm very sorry you had so many duds this month... But, gosh, I enjoyed your reviews of the books you hated so much! ? Especially the one for Less - Your offendedness over it winning the Pulitzer Prize was golden! - and the one for XOXO, which I, too, positively loathed. I felt so alone when I put it onto my least favorite books of 2021 list, so now I feel thoroughly vindicated! So thank you! ?

    And I'm also glad you had a few great books to make up for the awful ones! I've been meaning to read Jade City for years, so maybe I really do need to get a move on...

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    • sumedha @ the wordy habitat says:

      oh lmao i feel the same whenever i read negative reviews by others, i love the snark and how the frustration comes out in reviews ? and i’m genuinely offended over Less winning the prize and the author having a sequel with the same characters and the same plot!!
      oh yeah, XOXO isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. i’m with you!

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  • Stephanie | The Espresso Edition says:

    It was especially interesting to read this post because you reviewed a couple of books I loved and a few I'm interested in reading. I always enjoy finding out your thoughts - though I know we tend to have different tastes. The Green Bone Saga was a recent favorite of mine, though I'm slightly baffled at your comment about short chapters! From what I remember, the chapters were sometimes up to 35 minutes long on my Kindle (whereas I'm used to them being between 6-15 minutes), so I had a tough time quickly reading the books due to that haha! However, they were definitely worth it and the last book is definitely my favorite as far as the story goes. It covers SO MUCH and made me incredibly emotional, which I was not anticipating. I hope you enjoy the remainder of the series 🙂

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    • sumedha @ the wordy habitat says:

      I think us having different tastes is a good thing, I always see a different perspective of the books I’ve read through your thoughts and it’s interesting. Oh on short chapters in Jade City, the paperback I have has most of the chapters spanning only 5 or so (double sided) pages! and I was like oh that’s not too bad haha. I wasn’t seeing the time. I’m definitely going to get the next book on my next bookstore run.

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  • Charvi says:

    If Cats Disappeared from the World has been on my radar and now that you've given a good review of it I'll definitely try picking it up sometimes soon. My february was quite nice when it came to reading and I went through a couple of five stars as well!

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    • sumedha @ the wordy habitat says:

      It's a good book if you're in the mood for a short and poignant one! Oh nice! Hope you March reading is great as well 🙂

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