February Book Wrap-Up (Kinda)

3/10/2021


February was a successful reading month quantity wise, but quality..? Iffy at best. I only included some of the books on this as I didn't have strong feelings toward the other books I read and it's already March 10th, sooo.... Let's delve into all the books before I fully go on a tangent of disappointment and self hatred. 


Tangerine
Christine Morgan 

When a friend from the past comes back into Alice's newly married life, things seem to go from weird to weirder. Lucy Mason was always the wild girl in Alice's youth, but now as adults the familiar habits from the past seem to resurface making Alice question everything - even her own sanity. 

This was fun! The thing that really impressed me with Tangerine was how classically it read. If you told me that it was written in the same era as Rebecca or Jane Eyre, I'd believe you. The writing has such a great atmosphere around it, which truly makes for an immersive reading experience. I went with the audiobook, which was a lot of fun. The ending was predictable, but in a "oooh, ahhh" way, not in a frustrating way. 


Outlawed 
Anna North

Ada is a young girl who is accused of being a witch in 1894. In a bid to save her life, her mother sends her away to a convent and from there she ends up on a path to become an outlaw with a ragtag group of women who disguise themselves as men to survive.

A feminist take on a western? Yes! This had all the means to be a spectacular novel. Sadly, Outlawed fell a little flat. At under 300 pages, this should've been fast paced with a list of characters who had the means to have automatic chemistry (to help the reader care).. but it didn't. The middle of this novel drrraaaggggeeeddd. I felt like only two of the characters were complex enough to be memorable to me. Meh. As this is a debut, I'll definitely pick up anything else the author writes as this was a very cool idea for a story. 


You Should See Me In A Crown
Leah Johnson 

Liz Lightly has been denied a scholarship to her dream school. She's trying to find a solution when the wonder that is Prom Queen seems to materialize out of nowhere - the winner will receive enough tuition to really make a difference in the girl's life. But if she's willing to go through that journey she'll have to face the other female candidates, rekindle her friendship with the popular guy, and fight her feelings for the new girl.

I wanted to absolutely adore this book but I found it incredibly.. underwhelming? I don't know whether that's down to the fact that I was on a roll of reading some adult fiction that focused on some pretty dark topics so my mood was off, or whether it just isn't my cup of tea. I could see younger me absolutely loving the innocence that was laced throughout this novel, and completely shipping the two girls. But reading it through adult eyes just made me question whether the characters were written too young for their ages. The protagonist especially seemed pretty naïve when it came to honesty, and made some pretty silly mistakes. I wanted her to have a stronger head on her shoulders. Saying that, I think the book did a great job at making college her prime focus and not the relationships. More YA books should be like that. So to summarize, not my favourite YA contemporary but one that I'm glad exists for the younger generation. 


The Vanishing Half
Brit Bennett

As teenagers Desiree and Stella ran away from home, each twin wanting to get away from their small southern black community and venture into the big city. But pretty soon their torn into directions. One twin running away with a boy, and the other refusing to relinquish her hope to live a white life. Years later, the twins lives are beginning to come back together. 

This has so much hype online and it's so deserved. I'd previously read The Mothers by Brit Bennett and felt so-so about it as the commentary on abortion felt a little one sided (against Choice). I fully understand that it's hard to write two sides of an argument without favoring one. Some people had the same problem with Miracle Creek by Angie Kim. However. The Vanishing Half was a breath of fresh air. I adored the characters, the plot kept me captivated until the very last page, and I think it was immaculately written. The only thing stopping me from giving this a 5 star rating is that I felt the ending was a tad rushed.  


Home Body
Rupi Kaur

This is the third poetry collection by the glorious Rupi Kaur. Poetry is such a divisive genre, especially the more modern style that is often dismissed as "Instagram poetry" which is mildly infuriating as just, ya know, let people be. I personally enjoy any form of poetry, but the more modern style was definitely an easy introduction into the genre as a whole. Saying that, this wasn't my favourite of Rupi Kaur's collections. I felt like it was rather timid in comparison to Milk & Honey and The Sun and Her Flowers. It felt a little dragged out and the overall order of the sections felt off. I only tabbed 3 pages, which is pretty sad. I will read more by the author, but yeah, not my favourite and wouldn't necessarily recommend. 


Let's Pretend This Never Happened
Jenny Lawson

I adore Jenny Lawson. We should all bow down to this absolute blogger queen. I read her second novel Furiously Happy last year and absolutely loved it, it pulled me from an epic reading slump and took my down a nonfiction path which is still going strong. This is her first novel, and though I didn't enjoy it quite as much as Furiously Happy, I still devoured it with a huge smile on my face. If you're unfamiliar with Jenny, she's an online personality who started out as a blogger who wrote about mental health. She has very recently published a new book Broken (in the best possible way), which is on my March TBR.


In The Dream House
Carmen Maria Machado

 Carmen Maria Machado went through an abusive same-sex relationship, and this is her memoir accounting each step that led to the breakdown of their "love". Told through an array of vignettes, poetry, and essays, this is unlike anything you have read. The format of this novel is groundbreaking alone, but if you add Machado's unfiltered thoughts that read as pure beauty.. dayum. I have yet to see anyone who didn't admire this book for it's originality, smarts, and bravery. It takes guts to write anything like this, but especially non-fiction. The vulnerability that the author put into this novel is admirable. Of course, this is a book on 


Before the Coffee Gets Cold
Toshikazu Kawaguchi 

There's a café hidden within Tokyo, that offers some customers the ability to time travel. This power brings a group of could be strangers together.

This was a rather predictable book but in the most comforting way possible. In the same vein as Anxious People by Fredrik Backman this, at heart, is about humanity and the many ways that can impact the lives of people who are struggling. I devoured this book as fast as my eyes would let me. I teared up at multiple points and, surprisingly, laughed a fair few times. This is such a warming novel that I fully recommend you to read. The sequel is high on my TBR. Saying that, there's a cat on the cover but not in the book? HUH? False advertisement. 


Sing, Unburied, Sing
Jesmyn Ward

On a roadtrip to pick up his father from prison, Jojo and his dysfunctional mother are forced to try and rectify their broken relationship. We jump between two timelines, one told through the eyes of a ghost (..yeah..) and the other following Jojo as he comes to terms with his life and family relationships.

This is a very atmospheric novel. I didn't realize that this was the second book in a series, but alas, it read like a standalone. This gave me HEAVY Toni Morrison vibes. I found the writing lovely but yet sometimes too lyrical for my comprehension. This felt entirely like a book that ought to be studied at school as it had so many layers to each chapter that I guarantee most of it went right over my head. Because of this, it felt a little flat. 


What My Mother and I Don't Talk About : Fifteen Writers Break the Silence
edited by Michele Filgate 

This is a collection of essays written by various authors who discuss their relationships with their mothers - some bad, some good, some complicated.

I picked this up solely on the recommendation by Lianne and I'm so glad I did. This book touched my heart in such a way that I automatically bought it for my mum after turning the last page. This had such a rawness that it felt like a readable wound, and yet.. it felt hopeful. The strength that some of these authors showed through their words is remarkable. Everyone will take something from this novel, no matter the relationship you have with your parents. I wish more people were talking about it. 


Every Body Looking
Candice Iloh 

This is a semi autobiographical novel telling Ada's story. From her earliest memories as a child, including her abuse at the hands of a young cousin, her mother's rejection and descent into addiction, and her father's attempts to create a home for his American daughter more like the one he knew in Nigeria. 

I've read a lot of novels that are told through verse and for that reason alone, I think my expectations were just a little too high going into this. It needed more of a poetic element to feel powerful, which for me, it just.. lacked. I think the author would've been better to choose a period of her life and stick with it instead of trying to cover 19ish years. The cover is immaculate though. 


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