After a huge reading month in January, I am really pleased with another quite successful 4 weeks. I actually finished all the books I had pledged to read in February but one, which I finished on the morning of March 1st. I’ve been traveling for work quite a bit this month, so I am super happy with what I’ve accomplished.
Books read: 15
Books listened to: 1
Total pages read (includes “pages” from audiobooks): 5623
In Conclusion, Don’t Worry About It (Lauren Graham) ♠♠♠♠
As expected from Lauren Graham, this was a witty but also an insightful quick read. I adore her and her quirky writing. Her voice feels authentic and genuine. I specifically liked the illustrations that went along with her chapters.
This book would make a great “hey, I thought of you” gift. It repeats a message worth repeating: you are good enough.
The Exorcist (William Peter Blatty) ♠♠♠♠♠
Pure and utter perfection! I didn’t think it would be possible that I could love the book more than the movie. But it happened. The writing was superb. It combined elements of horror and gothic with elements of humanity and love. It read like a poetic eye-witness report. It featured some of the most authentic and real-feeling dialogue I’ve ever read. I definitely got sucked into the story right from the beginning. I felt icky and weird. I felt worried for the protagonists. I was amused by the vile demon and its foul language. I got annoyed with the mom’s attitude at times and I wanted the priest to hurry up already. I kept thinking about how lucky the actress is that every one of her staff is sticking around for this. This is definitely a book I’d consider a classic and a definite re-read.
The book was a lot less scary and a lot more poetic than the movie. If you enjoy dark themes with bloomy language, this book is for you. I whole-heartedly recommend this novel to any horror buff.
The Mermaid (Christina Henry) ♠♠♠♠♠
As many of you know, I love Christina Henry’s retellings of Alice’s adventures. I love them because they’re creepy and dark and dangerous. This delightful book was quite the opposite: airy and light often, filled with romance and hope, and many lovable characters. Yet, the message still packed a punch: love yourself, grow and evolve, say you’re sorry when you mess up, and step up for others in need. Overall, this novel is deep and makes you think.
If you enjoy retellings and novels based on some actual events, I recommend it to you.
Let the Right One In (John Ajvide Lindqvist) ♠♠♠
Honestly, this one left me feeling disappointed. I had been anticipating this read since I added it to my TBR a long time ago. It should’ve been a book I loved. Each element on its own was right up my alley: vampires, murder, gore and blood, bleakness and despair; but somehow these elements didn’t add up. They didn’t fit right. I can’t put my finger on exactly what happened, but the book just didn’t work for me.
I recommend this book if you enjoy suspenseful paranormal literature with a touch of murder, a little bullying, and 80s nostalgia (and not the good kind).
The Gunslinger (Stephen King) ♠♠♠♠♠
This was a reread for me. Well, I listened to the audiobook this time instead of reading the book. It proved itself once more to be great. I love how weird it is. I love how it slightly feels like a Western. I like the internal monologues. I enjoy the gothic-ness of it, like the appearance of ravens and brothels.
This is a different kind of Stephen King. I recommend this book (and this series) to you if you like a little sci-fi and a little fantasy with your weird.
Rebecca (Daphne du Maurier) ♠♠♠♠♠
I am still swooning over this book. Gah, it was just so damn brilliant. Is this a feminist book or what? I dunno but my gut feeling says yes. du Maurier perfectly observes the societal norms put upon women in England during her time. Could you be strong and free (and a little non-lovable) like Rebecca? Wasn’t it more appropriate to be a nobody like de Winter’s wife #2, who didn’t even get a name in the novel?! I don’t want to give away any spoilers and all my feelings about this book would give away spoilers. So, all I am going to say is that du Maurier masterfully crafted a cohort of characters, perfectly weaved together suspense, romance, and character studies, and put it all together in a poetic ease that you rarely get to see (or read). This novel is dark and flawlessly Gothic.
Everyone must read this masterpiece.
Ruin and Rising (Leigh Bardugo) ♠♠♠♠♠
What a satisfying and well-done ending to this trilogy! I quite enjoyed book 1 and 2, but this one had me at the edge of my seat, had me suffering along with the Sun Summoner and her Tracker, had me grieving for Nikolei’s fate, and had me yelling (in my head) “yasssssss” when the Grishas and their allies went all badass the entire time!
The Grisha trilogy is definitely a series that sounds like it could be formulaic and predictable but then proves you entirely wrong. I recommend it to anyone who loves a good fantasy adventure with a whole lot of world building.
Geekerella (Ashley Poston) ♠♠♠ and 1/2♠
This was just plain cute! It was spunky and nerdy and full of amazing references to all kinds of fandoms. It was a love story, a story about friendship, and a story about becoming your own. I needed this after a few heavier books early in the month. It made me feel like a belong to some fun social phenomena centering around some of my favorite fictional characters. This book is definitely geared toward a younger audience but allows an older reader to feel young at heart again, and who doesn’t want that?!
If you belong to any kind of fandom or if you just want to feel like you belong, I recommend this book to you.
On the Come Up (Angie Thomas) ♠♠♠♠
I didn’t read The Hate U Give – mostly because I have some weird visceral aversion to super hyped books (or movies or anything really). When On the Come Up was a February BOTM pick, I decided to give Angie Thomas a try before this one, too, gets super hyped up. And I am so glad I did. I loved all the classic hip hop references. I felt for the main characters. Their lot in life is not easy and I empathized deeply. Bri, the young rapper and main protagonist, is a difficult person and almost impossible to love as a literary character. That was why I loved her even more. I was immersed in her story. I flew through the pages. I wondered “is it possible that so many things go wrong for one person?” and I had to admit that yes it is. It made me want to be even more understanding toward others, even more aware of how good I have it, and try much, much harder to give back. Any book that can accomplish that is relevant!
I recommend this book as it pushes cultural boundaries. It’s significant and impactful.
Beast (Brie Spangler) ♠♠♠ and 1/2♠
This is a nice and very heartfelt own-voices novel. The story was predictable but the characters appeared real, vulnerable, and unique. In fact, I was quite surprised by how emotional I ended up getting throughout the book. I am old enough at this point to not just see the teenagers’ point of views but to also understand how the parents coped and felt about their children’s struggles. I am in an interesting in-between land now. I hope to read more novels like this in the future. This one seemed educational to me without stereotyping or pushing an agenda.
I recommend this book for you if you too feel out of place or are just looking to relate to someone, irrespective of your age.
Can You Keep a Secret? (Sophie Kinsella) ♠♠♠♠
This was a spur of the moment library grab. I was looking for a lighter but engaging read and the synopsis of this book fit the bill. Well, it turned out to be quite a surprising insightful novel! At times it reminded me of One Day in December, which I read and loved last year. This is marketed as a romance novel, and yes it does feature a romance, but it is not front and center. Instead, we get to know the protagonist Emma, who like many 20- or 30-somethings struggles to find her place in the world. She is smart and witty. She is kind and cares. She can be stubborn and selfish but she always comes back around to consider everyone’s feelings and perceptions. She wants to be successful in her job. She is looking for an identity and fulfillment. She is trying to make her mark. Yes, this novel has some clichés like a young girl falling for a succesful wealthy, broody man. But that doesn’t matter, because we are along for the journey, and the journey somehow feels real.
If you’re looking to read a romance novel that feels genuine, I recommend this book to you.
The Scorpio Races (Maggie Stiefvater) ♠♠♠
I have been wanting to read a Stiefvater book for ages. I tend to avoid getting into series if that’s an option so I picked this one because lots of my bookish friends had loved it and because wild and dangerous horses sounded awesome. I am sad to report that I super, duper struggled with this novel. I had to read past the halfway mark to get into the story and start caring for the protagonists. In the beginning, I was bored and confused and just felt super blah about it all. I ended up sort of loving the mystical sea horses and their violent streaks but feel that if Stiefvater had spent some time at first introducing them and their tales outside the yearly race on the beach, I would’ve loved them immediately and would’ve been invested in the story much more.
I am having a difficult time recommending this book. You have to decide for yourself.
My Lady’s Choosing: An Interactive Romance Novel (Kitty Curran, Larissa Zageris) ♠♠♠
This is one of those books that sounds awesome in theory and then turns out to be rather cumbersome in reality. Given I read this in Kindle format, but I just struggled way too much to make it through the alternate storylines once I read it through for the first time with my original picks. I do really appreciate all the references to known classics like Wuthering Heights, Dracula, Rebecca, and Pride and Prejudice just to name a few. And of course, I loved the over-the-top romances. Also, no matter what storyline you choose, our main character is sure to get a little something-something every time.
I recommend this book only in paperback or hardcopy format.
The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland (Jim DeFede) ♠♠♠♠♠
I started listening to this book because I tend to do better with nonfiction as audiobooks. I got immediately sucked in. The narrator was compelling. The characters were captivating. The 9/11 backdrop was fascinating. I switched to a Kindle version about 20 pages in because I was too impatient to wait how the story unfolds. I had never thought about what it really means when the airspace over the US is closed to planes. I had no idea how intricate of a play it is to find a place for them to land or refuel. I didn’t think about Canada’s role in this as our neighbor. While all those topics were covered in this book, we also get to know the people that were affected by these decisions quite intimately. We know who has a firefighter son in NYC, we know who has a military background wanting to help but can’t because they’re stuck somewhere on a remote Canadian island, and we know who would rather sleep in a tent on the lawn than crammed inside a small auditorium with hundreds of other stranded people. Parts of the story were hilarious: how DO YOU feed 12000 people in a town that originally has less than 5000 inhabitants? and parts were deeply moving: how would you connect with your newly adopted baby girl amidst all this drama?. This is not a long book but it packs a punch.
This is one of those nonfiction reads that just sucks you in. Read it.
The Mermaid’s Daughter (Ann Claycomb) ♠♠♠♠ and 1/2♠
This book pick is a direct result of an awesome book-ish community. One of the Top Ten Tuesday prompts (check out here what TTTs are all about) this month was to feature books that we loved that had fewer than 2k ratings on Goodreads. I stumbled across this novel on the TTT post by mimich42 and was immediately intrigued. Retellings and books about mermaids are definitely totally up my alley (I mean you can see that I read two of those just this month) and my library had a Kindle copy available right away – a match made in heaven. I really, really liked this book. It was full of lovely prose. It was dark and mysterious. It had interesting characters. It had Ireland. I thought involving a plotline of opera and composing was smart and beautifully tied in with writing fairytales. There were a few things but that bugged me but they were essentially super minor.
If you like a bit of a gruesome fairytale and enjoy the Hans Christian Andersen version of The Little Mermaid, I recommend this book to you.
Hope Never Dies (Andrew Schaffer) ♠♠♠ and 1/2♠
This was so adorably corny but also very weird. I enjoyed this read for that it is – a bit of fluff combined with some fangirling. I didn’t quite like how Obama was portrayed at times but since we get to hear the story told from Biden’s viewpoint it could just be that his little bit of whiny and his little bit of jealous clouded his perception of his best friend.
I recommend this as a fun break from reality and/or a sweet book club read.