February: Books I’ve Read Recently

"Books I've Read Recently" is a series where I, Penelope Gomez, will do a monthly wrap up of the books I've read throughout the past month. In this series I will give a brief synopsis of the story and then give the book a rating out of 5 stars. 5 stars being the best and 1 star being the worst!

I will then give a brief description of why I chose to rate a book a certain way.

So without further delay lets get into the "Books I've Read Recently," and as always leave a comment down below and tell me which of these books you've also read, or plan on reading next.

Books I've Read Recently

Spellbook of the Lost and Found, book cover

Spellbook of the Lost and Found by Moira Fowley-Doyle

One stormy summer night, Olive and her best friend, Rose, begin to lose things. It starts with simple items like hair clips and jewellery, but soon it’s clear that Rose has lost something bigger; something she won’t talk about.

Then Olive meets three wild, mysterious strangers: Ivy, Hazel and Rowan. Like Rose, they’re mourning losses - and holding tight to secrets.

When they discover the ancient spellbook, full of hand-inked charms to conjure back lost things, they realise it might be their chance to set everything right. Unless it’s leading them towards secrets that were never meant to be found . . .

My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

I'm giving this book a 5 out of 5 stars and right away I know that not everybody is going to agree with this rating. This book was really out there and a lot of things are not going to make sense. As a reader I very much just had to except certain things, and not question why or how certain things were able to happen. This book was very out of the ordinary, but incredibly intriguing at the same time. In this book Ivy, Hazel and Rowan find a mysterious "Spellbook" in the forest. When their diaries go missing and some very private pages end up all over school. They decide to cast a spell to get their lost diaries back. In doing so things start to go missing all over town, including children! Olive and Rose, another set of girls, keep finding lost pages from those diaries and they realize things are going missing for a reason. These 5 girls lives are all intertwined in a very mysterious way and it was beautiful to watch this story unfold. Moira Fowley-Doyle did a wonderful job of writing some very creepy, and magically eerie scenes. This book is written from multiple perspectives, and with each and every chapter I was pulled further and further into this dangerous mystery. This story however out there was incredibly captivating and unlike anything I've ever read before. I was hooked with every chapter.

Slay, book cover

Slay by Brittney Morris

By day, seventeen-year-old Kiera Johnson is an honors student, a math tutor, and one of the only Black kids at Jefferson Academy. But at home, she joins hundreds of thousands of Black gamers who duel worldwide as Nubian personas in the secret multiplayer online role-playing card game, SLAY. No one knows Kiera is the game developer, not her friends, her family, not even her boyfriend, Malcolm, who believes video games are partially responsible for the "downfall of the Black man."

But when a teen in Kansas City is murdered over a dispute in the SLAY world, news of the game reaches mainstream media, and SLAY is labeled a racist, exclusionist, violent hub for thugs and criminals. Even worse, an anonymous troll infiltrates the game, threatening to sue Kiera for "anti-white discrimination."

Driven to save the only world in which she can be herself, Kiera must preserve her secret identity and harness what it means to be unapologetically Black in a world intimidated by Blackness. But can she protect her game without losing herself in the process?

My Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

I honestly really enjoyed this book. In this book a girl named Kiera develops an online virtual reality game named SLAY. SLAY is an online community meant as a safe space for "blacks only." This is a safe space for gamers all around the world to connect and be free from the hate and ridicule they experience in their daily lives. Players are referred to as "Kings" and "Queens" and it is meant to be an empowering and uplifting community of gamers, but when tragedy strikes and a player ends up dead in real life over an online argument, Kiera's game SLAY makes it into the media spotlight. Everyone begins to question whether or not SLAY is considered a racist game? I think every reader is going to have a different opinion on this book and on that question but I personally really liked this book and felt like all of the characters were really relatable. The only character I didn't like was Kiera's boyfriend Malcolm. I felt like his character was mentally abusive, short tempered, and overly controlling of Kiera. I wanted so badly to see the good in him, the way Kiera did, but I just found his character to be overbearing. In the end I was vindicated and my first impression of Malcolm was validated, although I won't say how... My favorite part about this book was obviously the virtual reality aspect. I think the "battles" in the game and the description of the virtual reality characters were the best part of the book. It made me want to read more books set in a virtual reality world.

Dig, book cover

Dig by A. S. King

The Shoveler, the Freak, CanIHelpYou?, Loretta the Flea-Circus Ring Mistress, and First-Class Malcolm. These are the five teenagers lost in the Hemmings family's maze of tangled secrets. Only a generation removed from being simple Pennsylvania potato farmers, Gottfried and Marla Hemmings managed to trade digging spuds for developing subdivisions and now sit atop a seven-figure bank account, wealth they've declined to pass on to their adult children or their teenage grand children.

"Because we want them to thrive," Marla always says.

What does thriving look like? Like carrying a snow shovel everywhere. Like selling pot at the Arby's drive-thru window. Like a first class ticket to Jamiaca between cancer treatments. Like a flea-circus in a doublewide. Like the GPS coordinates to a mound of dirt in a New Jersey forest.

As the rot just beneath the surface of the Hemmings precious white suburban respectability begins to spread, the far flung grand children gradually find their ways back to each other, just in time to uncover the terrible cost of maintaining the family name.

My Rating: 1 out of 5 Stars

This was such a TWISTED read I'm not entirely sure how to describe it. The writing style was easy to comprehend but unlike anything I've ever read before. Each chapter is written almost like a play? We are introduced to characters in the order that they appear, and then we are given a script/ story to read. I didn't so much mind the writing style as much as the topics in some of the characters lives. I felt like some scenes were very CRUDLEY written and I was honestly disgusted by some of the topics. This was about a bunch of kids lives, who were incredibly messed up! One was an alcoholic racist. Another had to deal with Rape and Domestic Violence. There was drug abuse. I felt zero relief while reading this book, each character I was introduced to had to deal with a worse and worse situation. I felt so brought down by this book, I didn't want to finish reading it! I kept thinking 'things have to get better for these characters lives,' but it only got worse with each chapter. A shocking amount of people rated this book 5 stars on goodreads... I personally don't see it... but it could be my own personal bias with how crudely this book was written. I really hated this book, but I will say it was a fairly interesting read, there was always something incredibly shocking going on in each chapter. I did end up liking the ending, but not enough to ever recommend this book to anyone. I'm honestly shocked that this book won a Printz Award... I think I understand why it won, because it is very uniquely written, but I just didn't like this book! In all honesty I regret reading this book!

Bad Girls With Perfect Faces, book cover

Bad Girls With Perfect Faces by Lynn Weingarten

When I looked up, his smile was wide and real. “Ready?” he said.

I faked a smile back. I had gotten so good at faking things.

I thought: You brought this on yourself, Sasha. You will have to pretend forever now.
He squeezed my hand again. He couldn’t begin to imagine what this actually was. He had no idea what I’d done. What any of us had.

When Sasha’s best friend Xavier gets back together with his cheating ex, Ivy, Sasha knows she needs to protect him. So she poses as a guy online to lure Ivy away.

But Sasha’s plan goes sickeningly wrong. And she soon learns to be careful of who you pretend to be because you might be surprised by who you become…

My Rating: 5 Out of 5 Stars

This book was amazing! I don't think I've ever been so glued to a book, I finished the audiobook in 1 sitting! If you know me, you know I do not have the attention span for this, so that means it was shockingly good! In this book Sasha is in love with her best friend Xavier. Xavier is in love with a ruthless and viciously cruel girl named Ivy. Ivy is mean, cheats and has even randomly "ghosted" Xavier on multiple occasions. Sasha is fed up and has set out to prove that Ivy is up to no good. In order to prove this to Xavier, Sasha comes up with a crazy catfishing scheme. She decides to buy a fake cell phone and makes a fake Instagram pretending to be a guy named Jake. Sasha is willing to do ANYTHING to make sure Xavier and Ivy break up for good. This book was very much like a twisted game of Cat and Mouse. It was a thriller told from multiple perspectives and had so many twists and turns. This was one book that ends so crazily you can't help but think. "What would I do in this situation?" All the characters are just so relatable, they make some crazy bad decisions but this book really makes you think about your own moral compass and how or if you would do anything differently from these characters? I think this would be a really fun book to analyze as part of a book club. 5 out 5 stars. This will probably make my "Top YA Books of 2020 List." If you like watching True Crime documentaries or things of that nature then I think you would love to analyze this book!

Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All, book cover

Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All by Laura Ruby

The unforgettable story of two young women—one living, one dead—dealing with loss, desire, and the fragility of the American dream during WWII.

When Frankie’s mother died and her father left her and her siblings at an orphanage in Chicago, it was supposed to be only temporary—just long enough for him to get back on his feet and be able to provide for them once again. That’s why Frankie's not prepared for the day that he arrives for his weekend visit with a new woman on his arm and out-of-state train tickets in his pocket.

Now Frankie and her sister, Toni, are abandoned alongside so many other orphans—two young, unwanted women doing everything they can to survive.

And as the embers of the Great Depression are kindled into the fires of World War II, and the shadows of injustice, poverty, and death walk the streets in broad daylight, it will be up to Frankie to find something worth holding on to in the ruins of this shattered America—every minute of every day spent wondering if the life she's able to carve out will be enough.

I will admit I do not know the answer. But I will be watching, waiting to find out.

That’s what ghosts do.

My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

So I didn't totally love the ending of this book, because it felt very unfinished to me... or rather I still had some unresolved questions, but I am still going to give this book a 5 out 5 stars. I just absolutely loved this book. This book is NOT spooky but it starts off rather spooky as you are introduced into this ghostly world, which is parallel to our own. In this book apparently there are ghosts all around us, only we just can't see them... thinking about this I couldn't sleep at night! In this book the ghostly protagonist for some reason becomes oddly attached to an orphan girl named Frankie. Basically this ghost follows her around where ever she goes! Now you understand why I was up all night! This ghost is friendly... but she does have an affinity for visiting/ haunting the public library. She also loves reading even though she's dead! If that's not me as a character I don't know how much closer you can get. Anyway I know this ghostly setting is not going to be everyone's cup of tea, but I was here for it! The story of Frankie, the human, was also very endearing, I can see why a ghost would get attached to her and want to see how her life turns out. This is not a happy story by any means, but it was a very compelling one. This book was set in an orphanage run by nuns during World War II, so you can pretty much predict that this book is going to heartbreaking. I can already tell that there are going to be some really mixed reviews on this book. People will either really LOVE it, or really HATE it, I don't really think there will be an in between, but I absolutely adored it. This book was incredibly heartfelt and heart wrenching in so many ways. I think I felt every heartbreak right along Frankie and her ghost, it was such an emotional read.