February Book Wrap-Up | 2020

3/01/2020

My reading for February was all over the place. I read a total of 12 books, and gave such varying ratings that I came out of it undecided whether I had a good month of reading. I took part in Tome Topple and failed miserably at my TBR for it. Which you can read HERE. The act of reading such big books gave me an odd book hangover where I just felt blegh about every possible book I could pick up. Here's hoping for a better March!


11.22.63 
by Stephen King 

“I'm one of those people who doesn't really know what he thinks until he writes it down.”

Jake Epping is an ordinary high school teacher who is presented with a chance to change history after a time portal is brought to his attention. He's tasked with the mission of stopping the assassination of John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963, and solving one of the biggest mysteries of the 20th century. This is one of my husband's favourite books, so I did the wifely duty of reading (or rather, listening) to this TOME. The first half kept my attention, and I was really enjoying the direction that the story was heading. I appreciated the 'living the same day over and over' trope, and though I didn't love Jake as a character, he was superior to King's usual type of character. But the last half quickly plummeted my rating from a 5 star to a solid 3.5. It dragged ridiculously, and I found the love interest way too plain Jane to buy them as a couple. In classic King style, I was also very annoyed at the descriptions of literally every single female character's bust. So icky. To summarise, I'm still in a complicated relationship with Stephen King.

Rating: ★★★


Warbreaker 
by Brandon Sanderson 

“Mocking a woman is like drinking too much wine. It may be fun for a short time, but the hangover is hell.”

This is an epic fantasy set in the political world of Nalthis. Vivenna and Siri are sisters, one has been destined since birth to marry the God king of a viral nation and the other goes through life unnoticed. But when something unexpected happens, their lives get put into a tailspin of mercenaries, powered swords, and a royal court. As with any Brandon Sanderson novel, this has a wonderfully detailed magical system built around color called BioChromatic Breath. This was a 5 star prediction from me, and I'm happy to report back that it managed to get a 4.5. So, close! Despite it's 500+ pages, this was very fast paced. I really enjoyed both of the female characters (especially as their characteristics were very reminiscent of Jane and Petra from Jane the Virgin), and it never felt like 'heroic man comes to save the day' which was a worry I had when going into it. There was also at least three plot twists that I didn't see coming, which is quite an accomplishment, so yay!

Rating: ★★★★ (4.5)


The Good Daughter
by Karin Slaughter
"What a rapist takes from a woman is her future. The person she is going to become, who she is supposed to be, is gone. In many ways, it's worse than murder, because he has killed that potential person, eradicated that potential life, yet she still lives and breathes, and has to figure out another way to thrive." 

Two sisters are forced into the woods at gunpoint. One runs for her life. One is left behind. Twenty-eight years later, both women are still trying to come to terms with the traumatic events of that night. Charlotte, the younger of the sisters, works for their father while Samantha has moved away from the town. A case arises that brings the sisters back together, but is their client guilty? I was really impressed by how well Slaughter wrote the characters of this novel, they were really well developed and had actual growth throughout the book. The main story gripped me from the first chapter, and it never felt long-winded. I liked the direction that story went, despite my slight disappointment at the "big reveal". But I think that's normal, a thriller is never going to have a perfect ending. Many say that Pretty Girls is Slaughter's best novel, so I'll be sure to pick that up soon. 

Rating: ★★★★★ (4.5)


The Underground Railroad
by Colson Whitehead

“Slavery is a sin when whites were put to the yoke, but not the African. All men are created equal, unless we decide you are not a man.” 

Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hell for all the slaves, but especially bad for Cora; an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood—where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Throughout this entire novel, I could see what the author was going for. It had such promise to be a hard-hitting but necessary book written about a part of history that you don't often hear of. The chapters on the slave plantations were hard to read, but yet I never once cared for our main character Cora, which I think played a huge part in my overall enjoyment of this book. My heart should've been in my throat during the raids and chase scenes, but the entire time I was bored. So, so, so bored. Which really shouldn't of been the case. Perhaps me and this author just aren't made to be combined. Have you read this? What were your thoughts?

Rating: ★★


I Know Who You Are
by Alice Feeney 

“Ignorance isn’t bliss; it’s fear postponed to a later date.” 

This has one of those classic thriller tropes of taking place in two different timelines that eventually merge together. In one we're following a young girl who has been kidnapped by a man and woman, and forced to change her entire identity to suit them. While in the other we're following a renowned actress whose husband has vanished. Much like any 2-3 star rated thriller, I enjoyed where this story started but absolutely hated the direction it took and eventually ended with. I found the conclusion stupid, and not at all believable. I have previously read Sometimes I Lie by the same author, and hated that too. Perhaps Feeney just isn't for me.

Rating: ★★

Know My Name
by Chanel Miller

“I survived because I remained soft, because I listened, because I wrote. Because I huddled close to my truth, protected it like a tiny flame in a terrible storm. Hold up your head when the tears come, when you are mocked, insulted, questioned, threatened, when they tell you you are nothing, when your body is reduced to openings. The journey will be longer than you imagined, trauma will find you again and again. Do not become the ones who hurt you. Stay tender with your power. Never fight to injure, fight to uplift. Fight because you know that in this life, you deserve safety, joy, and freedom. Fight because it is your life. Not anyone else’s. I did it, I am here. Looking back, all the ones who doubted or hurt or nearly conquered me faded away, and I am the only one standing. So now, the time has come. I dust myself off, and go on.”

This is the memoir of Chanel Miller. A girl who is funny, who finds solace in writing, who has a tight-knit family that you wish to be a part of. The girl who was sexually assaulted by the so-called 'athlete' Brock Turner, and went to trail to get him prosecuted. I listened to this as an audiobook and it took me many weeks to complete purely down to the intense emotions Chanel brought out of me. I've never been so honoured to listened to someone's story while simultaneously being angered by the world we live in. I couldn't not recommend this book to anyone and everyone, it's a story that can be incredibly hard to listen to but yet is one that everyone ought to hear.

Rating: ★★★★★


And Every Morning The Way Home Gets Longer And Longer 
by Fredrik Backman

"I would rather be old than a grown-up. All grown-ups are angry, it's just children and old people who laugh."

This novella is a moving portrait of an elderly man’s struggle to hold on to his most precious memories, and his family’s efforts to care for him even as they must find a way to let go. I adore Fredrik Backman's writing. I've now officially read everything by him that's been translated, and I'm in awe of the emotions he can bring out of me. This was no different. I laughed, cried, and instantly made me husband read it. Now I'm making you. Get it from your library, buy it, anything.. just read it.

Rating: ★★★★★


Come Tumbling Down 
by Seanan McGuire

“New things are the best kind of magic there is.”

This is the fifth instalment of the Wayward Children series, which is a follow up to where we left Jack and Jill in book two Among The Sticks And Bones. Without giving any spoilers, this book was just meh for me. I have a complicated relationship with this magical realism series, some books I love while others I give 2 stars. This was an average 3 star read, but mostly down to the fact that Jack has been my favourite character from the entire series. If she was not in this, I probably would've downgraded my rating to two stars. I'm quite bias.

Rating: ★★★


Light Filters In: Poems
by Caroline Kaufman

“I am not pretty.
I have never been pure or soft or sweet.
I am beautiful.
Dirt still on my shoulder as I rise from the ground. Scars forming and healing like galaxies over my skin.
I am beautiful in the way I fought back when I was buried.
I turned the dirt and mud into soil, and grew.”

Poetry is a personal thing, especially when it comes to modern poetry. This is a collection of the latter. Many don't count what they view as 'Instagram' or 'Tumblr' poetry as actual poetry, but I call bull. I think anything that makes you feel something is poetry. I liked this, but I think the authors age made me not fully relate to the first love and growing up poems. So, 4 stars.

Rating: ★★★★


We Are Okay
by Nina LaCour

“We were nostalgic for a time that wasn't yet over.”

This is an intimate look at the isolation a person can feel when spending a long period of time alone. Marin is a young woman who is spending Christmas vacation in an empty college dormitory, her estranged best friend is coming to visit for a few days, but can that be long enough to help Marin open up about why she left her old life at a minutes notice. I've never before read a YA book that captures loneliness in such a realistic light. This was beautiful, both the writing and the story. If you enjoy YA contemporaries, then I can't recommend this enough. It doesn't get enough love.

Rating: ★★★★★


Brain On Fire : My Month Of Madness
by Susannah Cahalan

“Sometimes, Just when we need them, life wraps metaphors up in little bows for us. When you think all is lost, the things you need the most return unexpectedly.”

This is the memoir of an up-and-coming journalist who became plagued by voices in her head and seizures. Weeks progressed and Susannah quickly moved deeper into insanity, her behaviours shifting from violence to catatonia. After a series of tantrums, misdiagnoses, and a lengthy hospital stay, a doctor's last-minute intervention enabled him to give her a diagnosis and a chance to rebuild her life. This was a fascinating read (I went with the audiobook, but I felt like some parts of it dragged a little. It's difficult when critiquing someones memoir, as it's a very personal thing and you can't exactly say "this part of her life shouldn't of been in the book", however a few fatphobic comments really bothered me despite her talking about herself, and overall I couldn't entirely connect with Cahalan's personality. Still definitely worth a read though.

Rating: N/A

Dark Matter
by Blake Crouch

“We're more than the sum total of our choices, that all the paths we might have taken factor somehow into the math of our identity.”

A man is kidnapped at gun point, pushed through a doorway and suddenly wakes up strapped to a gurney in a world where his family is no longer his family, a team of agents are after him, and there is no safe way to turn. This is a much loved science fiction/thriller online, but I wasn't too sure what to expect as many describe it as a 'mind fuck'. I found this okay, it gave me 11/22/63 vibes which I read at the beginning of the month, so maybe that left me feeling a little deflated. I did like it, the audiobook was entertaining, but I don't think it's my type of thriller. Nevertheless, I would still give Dark Matter a positive rating and would recommend it as it was well written as it really did read like a movie. If you want mindless fun, go with this.

Rating: ★★★


What did you read in February? Do you rate books based on how well the novel is written, or do you rate based on your enjoyment? I'd love to know.

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