January & February 2020 Wrap-Up: Begone, Cursed Months! (Feat. Pretty Lights)

Happy March, everyone!

These past two months felt overly short and dragged out at the same time. And I’m torn between wanting to re-do them or wanting to stuff them into a burlap sack filled with rocks and hurl them into the nearest lake.

I ended up re-reading a lot of old comfort books, partly because of a two-month reading slump I was still shaking off, and partly because I’ve been in and out of a really bad mental place and trying to do my best to stay afloat.

And kind of jumping from that, here’s a little PSA for anyone with depression and suicidal thoughts: don’t wait until you reach the lowest of the lowest breaking point before calling hotline numbers or checking yourself in. I used to think those were things you only do when you’re in a really fucked-up mindspace, and it took me a while to learn otherwise. Do it before you start playing roulette with yourself. Sure, they’re not one-shot fixes; no one comes to you with a platter of solutions and a magic wand to neatly sprinkle them into your brain. But they do try their best, and they give you a safe place when you’re not in a position to trust yourself. Sometimes that’s enough, sometimes it doesn’t feel like it, but it’s always better than nothing.

Good? Okay, onto more fun things!

I did manage to get to a few new/upcoming releases, so here are some of the highlights:

βš”οΈ= Fantasy; πŸš€= Scifi; 🐺= Paranormal; πŸ‘»= Horror; πŸ”= Mystery; 🌺= Contemporary; πŸ—οΈ= Historical; 🌈= LGBTQ+


The Best


➽ The Poet King (The Harp and Ring Sequence 3) by Ilana C. Myer βš”οΈπŸŒˆ:

I adore this series and sometimes I have a hard time explaining why except to say that it just speaks to me. The characters. The aesthetics. The texture of the world and how music shapes it. The Poet King is the end to a saga that started with Last Song Before Night and I loved it. I mean, it’s got some glaring conclusion issues, but I still loved it.

The “Sequence” part makes me wonder if there’s going to be more stories set in the world. It confuses me (and gives me false hope) when authors don’t come right out and say “trilogy” or “duology.”

➽ The Lost Future of Pepperharrow (Watchmaker 2) by Natasha Pulley πŸ—οΈπŸŒˆ:

I was nervous about this because Watchmaker on Filigree Street was kind of a disappointment, especially after reading Bedlam Stacks, but Pepperharrow shows how much Pulley is growing as a writer. It’s got everything I adore about her stories–the whimsical seeping into the everyday normal, love that’s portrayed by its negative spaces–plus a lot of the issues in the first book addressed.


The Great


➽ Bent Heavens by Daniel Kraus πŸ‘»πŸŒΊ:

The worst and also the best alien abduction story I’ve read in a while. Daniel Kraus has no chill. [Review]

➽ Dragon Age: Tevinter Nights βš”οΈ:

Tevinter Nights is the first Dragon Age novel since 2014 and the first major romp through Thedas since 2015, and my god, I was stupidly excited. It’s an anthology, and while I’m not the biggest reader of anthologies and definitely not someone who finishes them in one go, make it Dragon Age and I’ll read dozens of them in one month. DA has been my number one game world obsession for the past 10 years. By far. And there’s a running joke–which isn’t really a joke–that when my friends and I play through the series we spend half the time playing the game and the other half combing through pixels trying to catch every bit of information about the world and compiling dossiers. Save the world? Sorry, that’s gotta wait; I have to stare at some statues for the next two hours and cross-reference them with these texts. And sometimes the sleuthing is even more fun than the actual gameplay.

Okay, I’m being told I need to stop before I diverge into full tumblr mode.

But yeah, the stories? *chef’s kiss* They were (mostly) a joy to read through, and I’m back with my tinfoil hat on. The review is going to be horrendously biased and I don’t even care.


The Good & Fine


➽ Dark and Deepest Red by Anna-Marie McLemore πŸ—οΈπŸŒΊβš”οΈ:

My first venture into Anna-Marie McLemore and I wasn’t disappointed. Story-wise it’s nothing amazing, but I love McLemore’s style of writing and the way she approaches certain details. I’ll be working my way through her other books this year. [Review]

➽ Untamed Shore by Silvia Moreno-Garcia 🌺:

This was, uh…..fine? Pleasant? More of a quiet experience than a story that I want to shout from the rooftops about. Review to come!


The Could Be Better, Could Be Worse


➽ The Unspoken Name by A.K. Larkwood βš”οΈ:

This wasn’t really up to the hype and expectations, but I do like the protagonist–a lesbian orc fighter/merc who tries her best–and I’m hoping the sequel irons out some of the problems. [Review]



Life Things

I sprained my neck during a hike a few weeks ago which meant little to no drawing or painting (another reason to chuck February to the bottom-most depths), but it’s mostly healed now and I’m eagerly getting back into it.

Also, we got our first winter snow in January! There’s a lake-that’s-more-of-a-large-pond outside my apartment complex and it’s host to a lights festival during winter–creative light sculptures and light-strewn trees winding all around, everything from Christmas themes to Canadian-centric stuff (lots of beavers and maple leaves).

They look gorgeous on any normal night. But when it snows? It’s like you’re moving through these little pockets of magical worlds. Kind of ethereal. Kind of eerie. And super, super neat.




Tell me how your winter months went and what you’re looking forward to in spring!

17 thoughts on “January & February 2020 Wrap-Up: Begone, Cursed Months! (Feat. Pretty Lights)

  1. acquadimore says:

    Those lights are so gorgeous. We don’t really get snow here – maybe once every few years – so it feels like a magical experience on its own when it happens; I can only imagine how it would feel if we also had that, it really looks like a magical world.
    I’m glad to hear that about Pepperharrow! I wasn’t the biggest fan of Watchmaker either (…and still have to read Bedlam Stack, even though I own it) but I still want to know what happens next.
    I hope you have a good March!


  2. Susy's Cozy World says:

    Oh my, the light are amazing!! Here didn’t snow this year, aside for half a day, and I am missing the snow, on one hand, but on the other one I am grateful, because it always is a nightmare going around when is snowing… But at least I get to see snow capped mountains almost every day so… That’s OK, I guess!
    And I wish you a great March, full of happiness and good books!!


  3. Sophie @ Me and Ink says:

    I’m sorry you have been having a rough couple of months I’m sending you all my best wishes and that is an excellent reminder that you can always help from people/hotlines, you don’t have to be at the lowest point. ❀
    I'm sorry about you spraining your neck as well *ouch* but I'm glad it had gotten better and you can get back to drawing again, yay!!
    Those lights took so pretty *heart eyes*
    I always love reading your blog because you introduce me to new books and talk about them in a really interesting way and I loved your whole talk about Dragon Age, so fun!!
    I hope you have a great March!! ❀


  4. waytoofantasy says:

    *huuuuuugs* Kathy! I’m so sorry things have been so rough. You know I’m always around if you need someone to unload on. I also know that sometimes when you’re depressed and anxious how tough it is to reach out, I’ve been there before so I feel ya. I hope you’re doing a bit better now.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Gerry@TheBookNookUK says:

    Kathy you get all my love and I’m sending you big telepathic squeezes for hugs. I have sadly walked the path you’re walking, in the past and more recently and will probably walk it again so I know how complex mental health can be. You’re doing the right thing by noticing when things aren’t so great and then seeking support.

    Float on in the best way that you can. No pressure ever on chatting or anything but you know where to reach me off blog if you need to. It’s good to see you crop back up xxx

    That light show looks fantastic by the way!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kathy @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky says:

      Your support means EVERYTHING, as always. ❀ I realize this is something I'm going to continue facing, and if I'm being blunt, sometimes it's hard remember *why* I should keep fighting. So that's something I'm trying to get better at. Keeping a bank of all the good things in the world I should live for. πŸ™‚

      All the hugs and kisses!! Hope you and your family are doing okay!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. @lynnsbooks says:

    That’s some rather excellent advice that you’ve posted at the start – make sure you keep remembering it yourself though even though it can be difficult πŸ˜€
    Lovely pictures by the way.
    February went by so fast for me that I forgot to do a wrap up post – i figured I might do a quarterly one instead at the end of March.
    Hope you’re doing okay πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

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