Snow ducks spotted in February 2021

Here is my monthly wrap up post for February — find out what I’ve been up to and what I read last month.

One of my goals for 2021 is to write a monthly wrap up post, talking about the books I read each month, books I bought, an update on my Peloton workouts and any other important highlights or events that happened.

What happened in February

I know February is the shortest month but it seemed to just fly by! The UK is still in lockdown, which means that things have been fairly quiet here at home. On 7th February we had our first proper snowfall of the year, which is probably the most exciting thing that’s happened so far in 2021! (The header photo is of some ‘snow ducks’ I spotted on a walk!)

I also made my first Tiramisu which turned out great — I will definitely be making it again!

Agent Venture virtual heist and escape room

I took part in a virtual board game experience on 24th February. This was for my friend Jupiter Hadley’s birthday! It was a bit like a virtual escape room, with our team having been assigned roles before the game. We had to help Agent Venture sneak into the bad guy’s base and then get him out again. It was loads of fun and not like anything I’ve done before! Jupiter wrote up a review for the game on Big Boss Battle.

In book related news, I bought myself an eReader! I generally read on an Amazon Fire tablet that I’ve had for 8-9 years now so it’s exciting to now have a ‘proper’ eReader. I bought a refurbished Kobo Aura H20 and got a case for it too. Personally I wouldn’t recommend ordering from the Kobo website directly — they actually come from Europe and so it took about a week to arrive (this wasn’t clear when I purchased!).

I also held a giveaway on Twitter for the Illumicrate edition of The Once and Future Witches by Alix E Harrow, which had an amazing 93 entries!

Peloton update

I’m currently taking part in the Power Zone Pack challenge, which is an eight week challenge where we are assigned set Power Zone rides. Power Zone rides are based on your fitness level, established by taking a Fitness Threshold Power test (FTP). The test is hell, but once you finish it you receive an output score. This is used to calculate your power zones, and during these bike rides you cycle at the resistance and speed that matches your zone. This sounds complicated, but it actually makes things much simpler and means the workout is tailored to each individual’s level of fitness.

Having a list of rides to take each week has also made my life much simpler as I can just follow the plan I’m given without having to think too much! I’m in a team with others too so we can cheer each other on. This is my third time joining the PZP challenge. I plan to write a blog once the challenge finishes on 15th March with my experience and how (if!) my fitness level has improved. I haven’t written any updates on my Peloton since I bought it and wrote my 6 week review!

In February I completed 19 cycling classes, 17 strength classes and 1 yoga class. I cycled just under 180 miles and spent almost 16 hours exercising (about the same as January).

Books I read

February has been a slower month for reading. I read four books this month or 1036 pages. This is six books below my monthly target of 10 books a month and brings me to a total of 14 books for the year (my target is 120). Still, there’s plenty of time to catch up!

Here’s what I read in February.

The Visitor, by Louvie G Tucker

The cover of The Visitor by Louvie G Tucker

The Visitor is a dystopian fiction (my favourite!) and Louvie’s debut novel. It is set in the year 2109, and America has now split into two — North USA (Nusa) and South USA (Susa). The main character, Peter, is a law abiding citizen but that all changes when he meets a dark-skinned Susan for the first time. Suddenly he realises that they aren’t the savages that they have been told they are in the media.

My thoughts: The dystopian world that Louvie has created was incredibly realistic and believable, particularly in today’s political climate. I also really liked the friendship between Peter and Sasha. It’s not often that books have a realistic friendship between a man and a woman that doesn’t end in romance! I just wish that it had been a bit longer (it’s just 179 pages) as it ends on a cliffhanger.

You can read my full review of The Visitor over on this post.

The End of Men, by Christina Sweeney-Baird

The cover of The End of Men by Christina Sweeney-Baird

The End of Men is a pandemic fiction and another debut! This novel explores what happens when a pandemic sweeps the world that only affects men. Just 1 in 10 men survive the virus. It’s told through the point of view of various women — some we go back to regularly, while others we only hear from once.

My thoughts: This felt like the perfect read during the current pandemic. It was really fascinating and covered lots of areas I hadn’t even thought about, such as how many essential industries are male dominated such as waste collection.

The End of Men will be published on 29th April 2021. Read my full review of The End of Men over on this blog post.

How LJ and Rom Saved Heavy Metal, by S D McKinley

The cover of How LJ and Rom Saved Heavy Metal by S D McKinley

How LJ and Rom Saved Heavy Metal follows two best friends who travel the US in their rally car to rescue their friend Dom, a heavy metal guitarist. Along the way, chaos follows, including zombies, magic and more.

My thoughts: This book was so much fun to read! It doesn’t take itself too seriously and is one wild ride from beginning to end. It’s utterly bizarre and jumps from one event to the next very quickly, with lots of pop culture and metal references along the way (as you might expect from the title). It is unlike anything I’ve read before!

You can read my full review for How LJ and Rom Saved Heavy Metal over on this blog post.

After Darkness II, by J F Johns

The cover of After Darkness II by J F Johns on striped background

After Darkness II is the sequel to After Darkness, a YA dystopian novel that I read last year. (You can read my review of After Darkness here.) It’s set in the year 2160, and humans and cyborgs are forbidden from speaking to each other. Kalem and Terra fall in love despite being Kalem being a cyborg and Terra being human. The story starts just where the last book ended, with Kalem and his family fighting against the tyrannical government.

My thoughts: This is a fantastic follow up — I really enjoyed it and found it hard to put down. Kalem and Terra’s relationship changes and evolves in this book, and it’s really sweet and great to read. The stakes are also slightly higher in this book and extra risks are taken, and I found it hard to put it down as I wanted to know what happens next. I’m really excited to read the next in the series!

My full review will be coming shortly — in the meantime check out the reviews on Goodreads.

Books I bought

I grabbed quite a few books last month:

  • Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell — the Waterstones limited edition hardback in red and gold
  • Malice, Valor, Ruin and Wrath by John Gwynne — the Faithful and the Fallen series (bought from Books4People — thanks to Benedict of Ben’s Blog for the head’s up!)
  • 2010 by Arthur C Clarke — bought from The Big Green Bookshop (I seem to have lost my copy!)
  • Kingdom of Souls and Reaper of Souls by Rena Barron in eBook format (Reaper was a pre-order!)
  • 6 Joe Abercrombie books in eBook format — The Blade ItselfBefore They are HangedLast Argument of KingsBest Served ColdThe Heroes and Red Country
  • Wings of Fury by Emily R King in eBook format — free through Amazon First Reads
  • Some 99p deals on Kobo — King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo, My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell (a favourite!), Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan, A Deadly Education by Naomi Novak, The Painted Man by Peter V Brett, The Black Hawks by David Wragg
  • And finally, the next six books by Brandon Sanderson: The Final EmpireThe Well of AscensionThe Hero of AgesThe Alloy of LawThe Shadows of Self and The Bands of Mourning (again, this set was from Books4People) so I am ready for the rest of the Cosmere Conquest readalong!

I also received my Illumicrate order and my two books from Goldsboro as part of my monthly subscriptions. Altogether that’s 30 books. Ooof.

Books I will be reading next month

In March I’m taking part in some book tours that I am really excited about:

  1. The End of Dreams by Marcus Lee (the third and final book in the Gifted and the Damned trilogy — read my review of Kings and Daemons)
  2. Pixeldust by T K Arispe
  3. Space Taxis by Adam and Harriet Frosh
  4. The Queen’s Dressmaker by Meghan Masterson
  5. Reaper: Aftermath by Jonathan Pongratz (the sequel to the novella Reaper)
  6. Pluto’s in Uranus! by Patrick Haylock

I also currently have nine books on NetGalley awaiting feedback (including The Queen’s Dressmaker). In March I hope to read some of these and improve my ratio (currently 63%)!

Video of the month

And finally, this month’s video just had to be this highlights of Handford Parish Council video that went viral. This video has been giving me life — I think it’s just the combination of people struggling with technology, Zoom meetings (which has become part of everyday life now) and small town politics that make it so engaging. I am utterly invested in Handforth and what happens next now (though I have no plans to attend the meetings — I don’t feel that people have been very respectful).

I hope you all have had a great February and join me next month for my March update!