Talk about February being a good reading month! If you’ve followed my book reviews for a while, you would have realized I’m a fairly harsh rater. Most books are usually 3 Roses or lower. It’s average, I enjoyed it, but I wouldn’t buy it. This month ALL my books were a 3.5 or higher with the exception of one. That’s astonishing.
February was also a very fiction heavy month. If I’m being honest, I think I’m burnt out on memoirs. However – the one memoir I did read was amazing.
While I’m not sick anymore like I was in January, I’m still keeping up the reading steam and finished 11 books in February.
February’s Top Pick: Big Little Lies – Lianne Moriarty (Let’s be real though, they were all top picks this month.)
February’s Dud: The Golden House – Salman Rushdie (I wouldn’t call it a dud, but it was lowest rated.)
Almost Midnight – Rainbow Rowell (3.5 Roses)
I will gladly admit I adore every thing Rainbow Rowell writes. Yes, her characters are all similar: nerdy, awkward, and endearing – but I eat it up. Maybe it’s because I relate to them. Almost Midnight is two short stories with drawings interspersed throughout. Sat down on a Friday night and was done with this in less than two hours. While I loved both stories, I wish I could’ve had full-length books on both stories/characters I enjoyed them so much. (Did I mention the book cover is a glittery midnight blue? That earned it bonus points in my mind immediately.)
Sing, Unburied, Sing – Jesmyn Ward (3.5 Roses)
Ward’s latest novel on the portrait of a family and the ghosts that linger with us, had been on my to-read list for a while. I finally picked it up after Barack Obama listed it as one of his top 2017 reads. Sing, Unburied, Sing has beautiful, lyrical writing. Ward has a gift for describing emotions and places vividly the reader feels like they are experiencing them firsthand. My biggest struggle was the chapters from Leonie’s perspective. I understand the intended empathy and understanding of her as a fatally flawed character, but her terrible parenting had me struggling to always grasp that.
The Goldfinch – Donna Tartt (4 Roses)
If you haven’t noticed, I have a trend of picking up books because it’s going to be a movie. Here it was due to the curious casting – Ansel Egort? Sarah Paulson? Nicole Kidman? Okay, you have my attention. Now that I have read The Goldfinch, I am screaming over the PERFECT casting of young/adult Boris in Finn Wolfhard and Aneurin Barnard. Tartt’s book is a long one at 771 pages, with very detailed descriptions of things that don’t always seem relevant at the time but all connect in the end.
Big Little Lies – Liane Moriarty (5 Roses)
Can I say I finally get all the hype? This book had been rec’d to me for years, but after I watched the series adaptation in one sitting on NYE, I knew I had to get on reading it finally. I enjoyed the book as much as the show. They’re both terribly addicting. For those who haven’t watched or read Big Little Lies, it’s set up in a switch-off POVs chapter-by-chapter, with police interviews interspersed throughout as more is revealed about the mysterious death that occurred. One would expect it to be “chick-lit” but Moriarty brings attention to bigger issues in this page turner.
A Wrinkle in Time – Madeleine L’Engle (4 Roses)
Science fiction isn’t my usual jam. I never read A Wrinkle In Time as a child, even though it was more than likely required reading at some point. This is another example of me being intrigued about a movie, so I finally gave L’Engle’s book a chance. Expecting to sit down and read only a few chapters, I actually read the entire thing in one sitting and immediately requested the other three books in the series from the library. Some plotlines and the infused Christian allegory made me raise my eyebrows a few times, but it was ultimately a fun read. It’s awesome for young girls to be the hero of the adventure when the book was created in 1962 and still today in 2018. (Am I the only one who feels guilty because I didn’t particular enjoy the little brother character though?)
The Golden House – Salman Rushdie (3 Roses)
I was captivated by The Golden House, until I reached the climax. Then I just got bored. Rushdie’s characters are all unrealistically larger than life and one-dimensional, but it feels purposeful to mirror aspects of the book. Using a narrator as character and a Shakespearan-esque plot, it’s easy to get immersed in the world of the Goldens. As the story takes place during Obama’s years in office, one minor plotline I enjoyed was the very public Clinton vs. Trump Presidential race towards the end – however Rushdie added his own spin using Batman and Joker, but using real quotes said by each party. Somehow, it was fitting.
What is to say about Harry Potter? At this point you either love it or basically are refusing to read it still on principle. We all know I fall heavily in the first category. I started my re-read of the books for the first time in a few years last summer. Every book I have loved just as much if not more this time around. With The Order of the Phoenix in particular, I forgot how much I despised Umbridge. She may be worse than Voldermort.
Slaughterhouse-Five – Kurt Vonnegut (4 Roses)
Slaughterhouse-Five is one of those classics I had been meaning to read for years. However, unlike some (*cough* The Great Gatsby *cough*) this one actually lived up to the hype. An unreliable narrator skips back and forth in the story as the main character and anti-hero Billy Pilgrim “time-travels” between WWII and his days spent on an alien planet of Tralfamador. At the surface, Slaughterhouse-Five seems almost silly because of it’s absurdity. Underneath all the zany plotlines, Vonnegut weaves a gut-wrenching story full of important imagery and symbolism about the impact and destructiveness of war and the equalizing force of death. It’s dry and stark and brutally beautiful. And so it goes…
Raise your hand if fandom has ruined your perception of books. Hi, that’s me raising my hand. It was hard for me to fully enjoy the Harry and Ginny romance in The Half-Blood Prince, simply because I’ve come to not ship them due to fandom. I will say since it had been a few years since I actually read the books, but had seen the movies frequently…they do Ginny dirty. She’s a much more empowering and dimensional character in the books. It has been interesting for me to go back through these books because my opinions on many of the characters have gotten more complex over the years. (Looking at you Draco Malfoy, Severus Snape, and Albus Dumbledore.)
Dear Martin – Nic Stone (4 Roses)
In a similar vein to Angie Thomas’ The Hate You Give where the main topic of the book is confronting many of the systemic racial prejudices in this world with a focus on the police system. However, that’s where the similarities stop as Dear Martin gives you a completely different storyline in a book that is mainly framed in letters to Martin Luther King Jr. I enjoyed it, but as would be expected with the subject material, I was also incredibly enraged. As a white woman, I will never fully understand what people of color experience in their day to day lives. Even though I like to think of myself as fairly educated on the matter, I still am left steaming at many common occurrences in their lives.
I tore through McDermott’s memoir in basically one sitting. He has such a refreshing and raw writing style. Even though the subject matter is dark, it is somehow easy to read. A NYC Public Defender by day, an aspiring comedian by night – all was well in McDermott’s life until it suddenly wasn’t. Gorilla and the Bird details the author’s first psychotic break where he assumed he was living a recorded “Truman Show” version of his life. Once given a diagnosis of Bipolar I, things remain rocky as McDermott struggles to find the balance in his life to take care of his mental illness. Even if you aren’t normally a fan of memoirs, this is one I would recommend.
What types of books do you find yourself most drawn to?
P.S. – Not only was February a good month for books, it was a good month for music.
Until next time,