February was a month of blue skies and thin knits, carefree days filled with desserts and happy people, lots of change and new things to look forward to in the future. I was quite productive this month, reading loads of AMAZING books that I’m super excited to tell you about. So let’s get on with the books!
I did not buy any books this month, but I did receive one from my mom who went to visit. I requested that she bring me this beast of a book: A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. Yes, I know it’s a marmite book – people either love it or hate it. And yes, I realise that it’s basically a piece of brick. I’m partly intimidated by it, but also super curious about why it won so many prizes yet hated so deeply by some people. It’s definitely high up in my TBR.
Other than that I also picked up loads of books from the library. Most of them I will review in this post, because I have finished reading them. The only one I haven’t finished reading is The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas – which I honestly didn’t plan on borrowing in the first place but reserved in the plans of picking it up in March. However it became available much earlier than I expected and I flew through that book!
The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry
This historical fiction set in a remote village by the sea is centered around Cora Seaborne, recently widowed and moving by the beach to discover the secrets behind the mysterious serpent that appears at night. There are so many things in this book that I really liked. The atmosphere and vibe of the book is definitely the star. This book does that splendidly, and I just loved how you can just taste the salt in the air. I love Cora, the main character, but couldn’t really relate or fall in love with any of the other side characters.
For some reason I just couldn’t deeply love the book as much as I thought I would, and as much as other people have. I felt like it was missing something, or maybe I just read it at the wrong time. Maybe I just couldn’t get the message the author was getting across. Maybe I needed to love the characters more. Despite the gorgeous writing, the amazing aspects of the book (mysterious creatures, beautiful scenery, lovely relationships between characters, slow plot), I couldn’t bring myself to thoroughly love it.
A Place For Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza
This gorgeously written family drama starts with a wedding. Our main characters come from a Muslim Indian immigrant family living in the US, and their eldest daughter Hadia is marrying a man she loves, something uncommon in an Indian culture because they are usually arranged marriages. The family is asked to do a full-family photo, however the members are looking for someone missing: their youngest son, Amar, and expecting his arrival despite the fact that none of them have seen him in years. Will he come for the family photo? Why is he estranged after all those years?
In this book we hear from different perspectives: the mother, Layla, the son, Amar, the eldest daughter, Hadia, and finally the father, Rafiq. The writing style is gorgeous, beautiful descriptions that flow wonderfully across the pages, but the structure is very unique because of the scattered scenes with no particular chronological order. I loved everything about this book, from the writing style to the characterization, from the themes they discussed and the plot itself. It’s so much more than a family drama – it’s about immigration and being a minority, it’s about self-confidence, about human flaws, about parenthood and about love. Everything was just written amazingly and I cannot help but fall in love with this family and all their flaws.
A full review will come soon in a future blog post.
The Girl in His Eyes by Jennie Ensor
This book deals with very heavy themes of sexual abuse and family abuse, and I don’t know for sure until today whether they dealt with them well. What I know is that I felt uncomfortable all while reading it, and in the end it didn’t give me a happy or enjoyable feeling. Maybe because I wasn’t that excited to start reading it in the first place, and only read it out of obligation because I already received it for free out of the kindness for the publisher. Maybe it’s also because I don’t know how to feel about the book – is it a good thriller? A well-written drama? A heartbreaking story that might have happened to other people? I felt too disturbed by the content, too troubled to really enjoy the story itself.
All in all I didn’t like this book, just because I didn’t like the themes it talks about. The writing style is normal, the plot goes in ways I didn’t liked (especially the predictable ending), and overall it just wasn’t something I enjoyed reading, nor was it a story that I felt I need to know. I’m sorry but it’s just not the thing for me.
Stephen Fry’s Victorian Secrets
This Audible original is sort of part-documentary, part-podcast about unique secrets in the Victorian era. Each chapter describes different secrets, ranging from serial killers, homosexuality, toilets, to Sherlock Holmes. It’s fun, has wonderful production value with its sound effects and unique theme, and quite insightful at times.
Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney
This book was witty, clever, captivating, and very very interesting. It’s definitely nothing like anything I’ve ever read before. The premise is quite simple – our main character who narrates this story is Frances, twenty-one year old, a student and writer, who together with her best friend (but also ex-girlfriend) Bobbi meets Melissa, a writer. From then on life ensues, and it definitely feels like a life of a real person in the world.
At first when I began this book, I tried to have no expectations despite all the buzz and hype surrounding the author. I even felt in the beginning that the book felt not very special, with the odd writing style and the slightly unlikeable characters. It felt like any other contemporary romance novel. Yet as I dive deeper I fell more in love with the characters, and also hated them more, rooted for all of them and wished for them all to be happy. I flew through the last two-thirds of the book in one sitting. And what I found about Frances’s story is that nothing is perfect, relationships are messy, friendships fall apart and then fall together again, same goes with money and parents and life in general. And isn’t that the main thing we want in life for ourselves and our loved ones in the end in our own daily lives? To be happy, rooting for each other despite all our mistakes and flaws?
Check out my full review of this book in a future post.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
As I mentioned before I did not expect to read this book in February. But I flew through this super hyped YA novel about a teenager who saw her childhood friend get killed by a policeman without any strong reason. It’s about police brutality, racism against black people in the US, about family and friendship and growing up as a minority that has been looked down upon all their lives.
It’s such an important read, and the characters are wonderful. It’s touching and compelling, and an excellent way to raise awareness towards racism in an approachable point of view for younger audiences. It will definitely spark a small fire inside all of us, of hope for change and for a need to make a small difference. I felt like the premise was amazing, the main character felt a little too perfect, but overall an amazing read.
I started Robin Hobb’s third book in the Farseer Trilogy, Assassin’s Quest a couple of days ago with the hope of reading the most part of it in early March in time for the #FemmeFanTale Readathon hosted in Youtube by Jean Bookishthoughts. I’ve been delaying reading this final instalment of the trilogy because of a combination of reluctance to pick up something so thick and heavy, but also sadness that I’ll finish the trilogy. I absolutely loved the second book, so I do not dislike the series whatsoever and in fact am really loving the characters and excited for where the book will take them even though I’m only around two chapters into this tome. Wish me luck!
In addition to that I’m also currently reading an audiobook, as part of my plan to complete the Reading Women Challenge 2019, where one of the prompts is to read a Lambda Literary Award winner. Hunger by Roxane Gay has already been in my TBR, and listening to the author read it for herself is even more interesting and valuable. I’m only at around 1 hour into the book (a quarter of the way through), and I really feel how powerful her story is. I’m very interested to read about her life as an adult, because so far we’ve only heard mostly about her childhood.
What books did you read in February? My best book I read this month is probably A Place For Us, although Conversations With Friends is definitely a really close second. Let’s talk about amazing books in the comments down below! And as always, until next time, Ayunda.