With February being the shortest month of the year, it’s always likely that February will be my slowest (?) reading month. I’m not sure what word to use instead of slowest as it’s not really any slower than any other months, but I just won’t read as many books due to the shorter amount of days. I’ll have a think on it and get back to you.
However, this has not been the case in previous years where February sometimes proves to be my strongest month. Ooh, maybe ‘weakest’ would have been the better word to have used in the first paragraph.
I did rather weirdly choose to read A Little Life at the beginning of February, the largest book on my shelf which I knew was going to eat away at some of my reading month, but I had finally decided that the time had come to read this beast of a book.
February wasn’t the worst month ever in terms of reading. I managed to get through a total of 8 books and some great ones at that. See all reviews and ratings below!
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
When four classmates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way, they’re broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition. There is kind, handsome Willem, an aspiring actor; JB, a quick-witted, sometimes cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their center of gravity. Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction, success, and pride. Yet their greatest challenge, each comes to realize, is Jude himself, by midlife a terrifyingly talented litigator yet an increasingly broken man, his mind and body scarred by an unspeakable childhood, and haunted by what he fears is a degree of trauma that he’ll not only be unable to overcome—but that will define his life forever.
My rating: ★★★★★
I’m not sure why, but I had the urge to read this at the beginning of February. This 720 page book has been sitting on my shelf for a long time and I couldn’t see another five-star review without knowing what was inside the book myself. So it was time. This book was honestly heartbreaking. Tragedy after tragedy after tragedy. Is Hanya Yanagihara a modern day Shakespeare? This was a very harrowing read over the two weeks that it took me, so I have no idea how the author was feeling when she was writing this. There are a lot of sensitive themes in this book so if you find anything triggering, I would steer clear of this book. But if you want to feel incredibly emotionally involved with some characters and cry a lot, this is the book for you.
The Murders in the Rue Morgue by Edgar Allen Poe
Poe’s amateur detective, C. Auguste Dupin, takes an interest in the murder in Paris of two women. It was terribly brutal but difficult to categorize; there appeared to be no robbery or sexual assault, no obvious reason for the crimes. The newspapers carried sensational headlines. Dupin gets involved because the man arrested for the crimes, Monsieur Le Bon, had previously done him a favour. It becomes a challenge to Dupin.
My rating: ★★
I haven’t read any of Poe’s work before, so picked this up in my local library to have a go. This book includes some short stories of the French detective Dupin (reminded me of the Netflix show Lupin) and is said to be the first modern detective story. It reminded me a lot of Sherlock Holmes in its style, but if I was to choose one over the other, I would definitely pick Sherlock Holmes. I didn’t really enjoy this all that much, but I might try Poe’s poetry in the future.
Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan
Politically alert, heartbreakingly raw, and dryly funny, Exciting Times is thrillingly attuned to the great freedoms and greater uncertainties of modern love. In stylish, uncluttered prose, Naoise Dolan dissects the personal and financial transactions that make up a life—and announces herself as a singular new voice.
My rating: ★★★★
I had seen quite a few mixed reviews of this book, so didn’t really know what to expect. Naoise Dolan has been dubbed as another Sally Rooney, but if I’m being honest, I think I’m a bigger fan of Naoise Dolan’s writing than Sally Rooney’s. I can see the comparison, but found Exciting Times much easier to digest and more enjoyable to read than Sally Rooney’s latest work. I’m a huge fan of this book, especially with all of its Irish colloquialisms. I’ll be reading her next work for sure.
As Good As Dead by Holly Jackson
Pip is about to head to college, but she is still haunted by the way her last investigation ended. She’s used to online death threats in the wake of her viral true-crime podcast, but she can’t help noticing an anonymous person who keeps asking her: Who will look for you when you’re the one who disappears? Soon the threats escalate and Pip realizes that someone is following her in real life. When she starts to find connections between her stalker and a local serial killer caught six years ago, she wonders if maybe the wrong man is behind bars. Police refuse to act, so Pip has only one choice: find the suspect herself—or be the next victim. As the deadly game plays out, Pip discovers that everything in her small town is coming full circle… and if she doesn’t find the answers, this time she will be the one who disappears…
My rating: ★★★★★
Even though this is the third book in this series, Holly Jackson keeps the momentum and surprise right to the end. I’m always a little doubtful when it comes to series, and this being a young adult series, I was even more so. However, all of the characters come back together in this third book to tie up the series once and for all with a new murder inquiry. A really gripping novel with great twists and turns throughout. An enjoyable read no matter what age you are.
Detransition Baby by Torrey Peters
Reese nearly had it all: a loving relationship with Amy, an apartment in New York, a job she didn’t hate. She’d scraped together a life previous generations of trans women could only dream of; the only thing missing was a child. Then everything fell apart and three years on Reese is still in self-destruct mode, avoiding her loneliness by sleeping with married men. When her ex calls to ask if she wants to be a mother, Reese finds herself intrigued. After being attacked in the street, Amy de-transitioned to become Ames, changed jobs and, thinking he was infertile, started an affair with his boss Katrina. Now Katrina’s pregnant. Could the three of them form an unconventional family – and raise the baby together?
My rating: ★★★
Detransition Baby came as part of my Books That Matter subscription for the month of February. I’ve been getting better at reading my BTM books in the month that they come, and already looking forward to receiving March’s book! Anyway, Detransition Baby has been on my list of books to read for quite a while now and I had actually loaned it from the library at the same time that my BTM box arrived, so perfect timing and I had a copy to keep for myself! The book follows Reese, Ames and Katrina as the three question whether they can raise a child together. Of course, as the title suggests, the book covers a lot about transitioning, being transexual, gender and sexual identity and gives so much insight into that world and the feelings and thoughts of those in the community. A very informative book that also deals with a great storyline. I gave it three stars as I felt that the main storyline wavered a lot, but I do get that the book was covering different timelines. It just didn’t keep me gripped as a storyline, although I did learn a lot from this book and would highly recommend.
Mrs Death Misses Death by Salena Godden (Gifted)
Mrs Death has had enough. She is exhausted from spending eternity doing her job and now she seeks someone to unburden her conscience to. Wolf Willeford, a troubled young writer, is well acquainted with death, but until now hadn’t met Death in person – a black, working-class woman who shape-shifts and does her work unseen. Enthralled by her stories, Wolf becomes Mrs Death’s scribe, and begins to write her memoirs. Using their desk as a vessel and conduit, Wolf travels across time and place with Mrs Death to witness deaths of past and present and discuss what the future holds for humanity. As the two reflect on the losses they have experienced – or, in the case of Mrs Death, facilitated – their friendship grows into a surprising affirmation of hope, resilience and love. All the while, despite her world-weariness, Death must continue to hold humans’ fates in her hands, appearing in our lives when we least expect her…
My rating: ★★★★
This book was like nothing I’ve ever read before and as you can imagine from the title, was all about death. However, it was quite like Matt Haig’s The Midnight Library that made you think of the overall meaning of the book, not just the fiction tale that was telling the story. The book covered famous deaths, how we deal with death, how we can come so close to death but miss it, and how we should live our lives to the absolute full since we’re all going to meet death eventually. An uplifting yet sad book that featured some great poetry throughout.
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Many years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters’ storylines intersect?
My rating: ★★★★★
I had seen amazing reviews for this book all across social media over the past 12 months or so, and it has been sitting on my shelf for a little while now, so decided it was time to pick it up. The story features a set of twins that run away from their very small hometown in their teens and eventually end up splitting apart and leading separate lives. One of the twins leads her new life passing as a white woman, whereas the other twin returns to her hometown with her daughter. A lot of twists and turns, reunions (you could say fate bringing everyone back together) and consequences of decisions made in earlier life. A great storyline with unexpected twists and a very unique storyline at that. A modern day classic.
The Second Cut by Louise Welsh (Gifted)
Auctioneer Rilke has been trying to stay out of trouble, keeping his life more or less respectable. Business has been slow at Bowery Auctions, so when an old friend, Jojo, gives Rilke a tip-off for a house clearance, life seems to be looking up. The next day Jojo washes up dead. Jojo liked Grindr hook-ups and recreational drugs – is that the reason the police won’t investigate? And if Rilke doesn’t find out what happened to Jojo, who will?
My rating: ★★★★
Set in Glasgow, The Second Cut delves into the underground drug world in the Scottish city, with some mysterious deaths, parties, characters and an auction. A really entertaining book that had me reading the entire book in one weekend. It was very much one of those what-happens-next books that makes you want to keep reading right until the end in one sitting. A great book!