What I Read in February
After having such a stellar reading month in January, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that this past month was a bit of a bummer. Most of my ratings were 3 stars or less, as opposed to January where most were 3 and above.
My recent post about choose-your-own-adventure novels for adults inspired me to try out a couple, and I don’t think they’re my thing…
I finished 17 books in February. Not too shabby, considering I finished 20 in the previous month with three extra days!
What I Read in February 2019
Love and Other Consolation Prizes by Jamie Ford
For the PopSugar Challenge Category: A novel based on a true story This compelling story covers a fascinating time in the world and U.S. history, bookended by Seattle’s two World Fairs. The writing is detailed and dramatic. I found the historical details and side characters more interesting than the main story. While I suppose it is an endearing story of love and loyalty, it didn’t tug at my heartstrings like it seems to for most other readers.
The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen
For the PopSugar Challenge Category: A book with POP, SUGAR, or CHALLENGE in the title Allen’s writing is simple yet magical. While there’s an interesting mystery here, it takes a while to get to it. I spent the majority of the novel wondering why I’m supposed to care about these characters. It was only in the final 1/4 that things started to pick up and come together. Then I was finally emotionally engaged with the story. This is definitely a novel worth reading, especially if you like the author’s other work, just realize it has a lot of potential that goes unfulfilled.
Laugh it Up! by Candace Payne
This is about Candace’s Chewbacca Mom video going viral and the explosive aftermath. It’s about how learning to live her life in pursuit of joy led to that exact moment, and the benefits that came after. Candace is a regular person, sharing her experiences. Even before her moment with the Chewbacca mask, she was taught the power of making time for play, even in adulthood. This book is about how though she may have lost her way at times, Candace always realized joy was in her life. It’s a fun read, inspiring us to do the little things every day that light us up and bring joy.
The Winter Sister by Megan Collins
For the PopSugar Challenge Category: A book inspired by myth/legend/folklore Here’s a plot-line that’s been done so many times. And while I don’t believe every idea has to be a truly original one, there isn’t much unique spin here. I wanted more from this novel. The concept is intriguing, then it falls flat. I never felt emotionally connected to the story or characters. The writing is decent and the mystery is compelling enough to keep me reading. It’s not a bad novel by any means, and it isn’t a great one.
The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo
For the PopSugar Challenge Category: A book that includes a wedding I could tell from the beginning that this book was going to rip my heart out – That didn’t make it any easier! It’s a sprawling love story, of two people, who keep finding their way back to each other. At the core, this novel is about choices people make and how they deal with those repercussions. It’s also about navigating through the different stages of life. The writing is top notch, with skillful use of dialogue and imagery.
My Lady’s Choosing: An Interactive Romance Novel by Kitty Curran and Larissa Zageris
For the PopSugar Challenge Category: A book by two female authors Great concept, but it didn’t pan out as well as I’d hoped. For several of the sections, the reader is only given one option for moving forward. I understand this is supposed to be a parody of the standard romance genre, yet it was still too cheesy for me. I expected the protagonist to be a bit stronger and have some not-so-typical choices. The book was interesting enough that I explored two different paths, which turned out vastly different, and it did entertain me at times.
The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
For the PopSugar Challenge Category: A book that takes place in a single day The story is beautiful, gut-wrenching and relevant. Two teens fall in love over the course of one day, while one of them is on the verge of being deported with her family. The other is a first generation Korean-American struggling to find himself among his parents’ expectations. Each narrate their own chapters, giving the reader access to their most personal thoughts. This is a fantastic novel that reminded me of how much great fiction is out there in the Young Adult genre that can resonate with adults as well.
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
For the PopSugar Challenge Category: A book becoming a movie in 2019 While difficult to read at some points, this is ultimately a beautifully written story about tough subjects. It’s a realistic exploration of mental illness and suicide in teens. Part of the reason I enjoy YA fiction is because it reminds me how powerful first love is, and other firsts. Yes, this is partly a love story between Finch and Violet, but there’s so much more. It’s about loss, and survivor’s guilt. It’s about family and trust, connection, showing up for each other. I appreciated the alternating points of view because it gave a genuine feel for how these situations evolve over time, and how signs can be missed.
Forget You Know Me by Jessica Strawser
For the PopSugar Challenge Category: A book about a family This novel is labeled as mystery and thriller, and it’s by no means a typical example of those genres. The writing here is solid, much closer to literary fiction. And while there’s definitely a mystery and occasional suspense, it’s a character driven novel about human nature and relationships, about secrets, loyalty, and reaching various life stages. There are three main characters: Molly, her husband, and her best friend. Each of those characters are strongly connected to the others, and they all have their own side angles that bring in side characters and additional drama.
Seven Lives and One Great Love: Memoirs of a Cat by Lena Divan
*My favorite read this month!* For the PopSugar Challenge Category: A book from a non-human perspective I find most cat/dog narrated books to be dull and unrealistic. This is not the case here! There are laugh out loud moments in our feline narrator’s stories and some sad ones. Throughout, he remains snarky, commenting on his life, companions, and surroundings exactly as I expect a house cat would.The writing is top notch in all aspects.
Romeo and/or Juliet by Ryan North
For the PopSugar Challenge Category: a choose-your-own-adventure book This is a fantastic concept, executed with great creativity, wit, and skill. The presentation is fun, without the drawings it wouldn’t be nearly as complete or unique. I appreciate there is an option to follow along with the original Romeo & Juliet storyline. I love the snarky tone and modernization of the old plot lines. It was an entertaining reading experience!
The Healthy Writer by Joanna Penn and Dr. Euan Lawson
You can find my full review for this one on Goodreads. All I’ll say here is that I don’t recommend this one!
Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris
For the While I Was Reading Challenge Category: A book set in a country you’d like to visit (England & Thailand) An overdone premise, and while Paris’ spin on it here is stomach-turningly creepy, it doesn’t deliver on all the potential. Instead, it’s predictable and all the characters are so pathetic, I couldn’t even root for the ones I was supposed to. It was a quick, easy read. I did want to see how it panned out, so it wasn’t a complete dud, but there better examples of the genre out there, even by this same author!
Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin
I’m not quite sure what the point of this novel is! It’s an interesting look into the life of a young woman who has an affair with a married congressman. We also get to know other prominent women in her life, and learn how they are affected by the affair as. Zevin’s writing is strong, her dialogue and regional dialects are on point. However those attributes can only go so far when the story falls flat. I’m not clear on what I’m supposed to take away from the women’s stories, if anything.
Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven
Niven wonderfully captures the essence of teenagers. Here we have two young people struggling with self imposed isolation, who come together because they understand each other in a unique way. There is a lot of heartache along the way, and also joy. It’s a romance, and also a story of family and friendship, forgiveness and acceptance. Niven’s writing is solid, her dialogue spot on, which is where these relationships shine. The inner dialogue of each character is charming and honest.
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
For the PopSugar challenge Category: A re-read of a favorite book Out of all the audio books I’ve listened to over the years, this is the first one I ever purchased, specifically for this prompt. I decided to listen instead of re-reading by physical copy because a) I love Liz Gilbert’s voice, it’s soothing, and listening to her feels like chatting with a dear friend b) Listening allows me to process the information in a different way than reading c) I needed a kick in the pants regarding my creativity and motivation, and I knew Liz would deliver!
We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
For the While I Was Reading Challenge category: A book mentioned in another book I avoided this for years because I thought it would be too scary! I finally decided to give it a try because the main character in Holding Up the Universe loves this book, and it’s fair significant to her story.
Yes, this is a creepy tale of two sisters living in isolation after the deaths of their family. It’s also a fascinating exploration of societal judgement. I listened to the audio book narrated by Bernadette Dunne, whose voice is a perfect fit for our unreliable narrator Merricat. This is a fairly short read, and was engaging the entire way through.