It’s that time again. Rodeo season is in the air and it’s time to round up the best books I read in February.

Here we go, y’all! (Yes, it’s y’all because it’s a contraction of you + all. Get it right!)

It was hard for me to choose between #1 and #2. Both are great reads. One is urban fantasy and the other is steampunk. Personally, I’m a fan of urban fantasy over steampunk, so my preference decided.

Into the Fire

#1: INTO THE FIRE by Kim Vandel

Genre: Urban Fantasy, YA

Worldview: Christian


  • This author knows how to tell a story. She gives you enough information to ground you, but keeps the rest a mystery and feeds it to you as you go.
  • The characters are great, from the female protagonist to the rest of the Guardians. Their rapport reminds me of the characters in Big Hero 6, not meaning that the book is juvenile, but that each character is fully developed with quirks and eccentricities of their own and you like them all. I can’t wait to get to know them better throughout the series.
  • The premise of good vs. evil is dealt with in a unique and refreshing way.


  • I have one problem with the storyworld. The idea is that God calls certain people and makes them Guardians to fight against evil. He empowers them with special gifts and they can either choose to use those gifts for good or evil (OK so far). If the Guardians are an elite fighting force for God, I would expect more dependence on him. Instead, you have a group of superheroes that are completely self-reliant. I think the author didn’t want to make the book overtly Christian, but the absence of any talk or dependence on God feels like a plot hole.



#2: TICKER by Lisa Mantchev

Genre: Steampunk, YA

Worldview: Secular, clean


  • This is a fantastic serial-killer steampunk thriller.
  • Love that the main character is a girl with a clockwork heart that is a couple of ticks from stopping completely.
  • Tons of fun, inventive creations in the story, and plenty of characters to like.
  • The audiobook is narrated by someone English. 😉


  • As far as I can tell, this is a stand alone novel. I’d really like to see it turned into a series, or at least have a sequel. There are a few more things I’d like to know. Hopefully, one day.



#3: GILDED by Christina Farley

Genre: Urban Fantasy, YA

Worldview: Secular, clean


  • Unique setting: Korea.
  • Revolves around Korean mythology. I’m not familiar with Korean mythology, so I enjoyed the mythical beings and fairytales come to life. (No idea if they were based on real fairytales or not).
  • Also, having studied a Korean martial art for a time, I enjoyed the Korean terminology and moves.
  • Well written, engaging, with a satisfying ending. No annoying cliffhangers with this one. 🙂



Jackalope Project

#4: PROJECT JACKALOPE by Emily Ecton

Genre: Middle-grade

Worldview: Secular, clean


  • Quirky, fun, and includes a jackalope.
  • Weird adults characters: a dubious professor, a crazy neighbor lady, a creepy lab tech.
  • The mystery is fun and the ending is satisfying.
  • The main character learns about true friendship.


  • The main female protagonist is described as cursing frequently (no actual cuss words used). It doesn’t add anything to the story, and to have a young character “cuss” as part of their personality bothers me. It is not something I’d want my children to emulate.



#5: YIELD by JR Pierce

Genre: Epic Allegory

Worldview: Christian


  • Although this is a debut novel, the writing is mature.
  • Nice balance between setting, description, and action.
  • Characters are well developed and likeable. (My favorite character was Namewearer.)
  • Story world is interesting and well-written.


  • The book is loooooong. 738 pages according to Goodreads.
  • Pacing and story structure. The story is essentially a time-sensitive quest, but the characters end up stuck in places with no real urgency to leave. During parts of the book, I couldn’t put it down. Other parts, I wondered why the characters had to go through certain obstacles. Not all of them seemed necessary to the plot.
  • Some minor characters’ plot threads unresolved.

Homework Machine


Genre: Middle-grade

Worldview: Secular, clean


  • Fun story told from several points of view in a series of journal-like entries.
  • The 4 main characters are diverse. Geek boy, nerd girl, popular boy, lazy girl.
  • Of course, each character is more than their “label” and discovering that is the best part of the book.
  • The premise of a homework machine is fun.


  • A little choppy because of the many POV jumps. Would have preferred longer “entries” for each character.




  1. So many good suggestions! I’m especially interested in Gilded due to my love of kdramas (so I have a vague familiarity with some of their mythology). Looks like there’s more to the series, too! I’m not sure if I actually read a book in February – I’ve read bits of Maximum Ride and the first The Amulet graphic novel (blah)… 😦 I am rereading one of my favorite manga series, though. (Gearing up for that blog post I need to start writing!)

    Liked by 1 person

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