And here I am again with another installment of my monthly reads! February was a big one for me with NINE books completed. Scroll for summaries and reviews on everything I (finally) removed from my giant TBR stack.
Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner
Any book that can make you actually cry is a book worth reading, in my opinion. The intertwining of Jo and Bethie’s stories, their diverging paths, growth and reconnecting created a beautiful and timeless story about not only being a woman but growing as a person throughout your life and all its twists and turns.
When We Were Vikings by Andrew David MacDonald
When I first began reading, I was a little confused about the writing style, but I did catch on pretty quick (I think, at least) that the main character, Zelda, has a disability. The plot follows Zelda — a Viking history buff — becoming more independent from her brother, her caretaker. I loved watching her grow and seeing life through her eyes. I think MacDonald does an amazing job of writing from the perspective of someone with a disability and it really helps create the story. I do feel like the end was a little bit fantastical compared to the rest of the story which I felt was very "real," so that was my only kind of meh part about this book.
Wild Game by Adrienne Brodeur
Adrienne's memoir about her mother's love affair was so interesting that I could not put it down. It's not every day that your mom brings you in to help hide her affair from your stepdad. How she writes about the excitement in the beginning and then taking you through her growth into adulthood was so revealing. I loved how honest she was about struggling with separating herself from her mom and how their relationship affected all of Adrienne's romantic relationships. I'm not usually one for memoirs but I just fell in love with this one and read it in a day.
Dumplin' by Julie Murphy
I've watched the Netflix movie for this a million times because Jennifer Aniston plays the mom, Rosie Dickson, to main character Willowdean. Willowdean, a.k.a Dumplin' (her mom's nickname for her), is a high school student who deals with the normal things like crushing on boys... and her mom being a former beauty queen who still runs the town's pageant. While the book takes place over a longer period of time than the movie, the premise is still the same. Willowdean, an overweight teenager, decides that she is going to enter the Miss Clover City pageant with her friend Ellen and a few other misfits. This story is a classic plot of growth in your teenage years and figuring things out. It was refreshing to see this kind of story through Willowdean's eyes.
Woven in Moonlight by Isabel Ibañez
Catalina and Ximena, along with the rest of the Illustrians, who wear only white, have been kicked out of La Ciudad by the Llacsans, a colorful and flamboyant group. Ximena, who looks just like Catalina, must pose as her in order to protect the Condessa from those who would try to harm her. This protection goes so far as to sending Ximena to La Ciudad to marry Atoc, the false king. Ximena must help discover the weaknesses of the king and where he hides a secret weapon so that they Illustrians may reclaim their kingdom. As a way of communicating, she weaves tapestries with moonlight that contain secret messages. But what happens if she has a change of heart? Ibañez's debut YA novel is bright, beautiful and rich in culture. *Spoiler Alert* She's announced the sequel "Woven in Starlight" will be published in January 2021 and that it will follow Catalina after her banishment from La Ciudad.
Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo
Adebayo's story is one that I think a lot of people can relate to. The pain of not being able to have a child is a shared experience that is wished upon none, but experienced by many. Contrasted with the goings on of 1980s Nigeria, Yejide struggles with providing a child for her husband. Their love also goes through trials as they experience the ups and downs of marriage coupled with their struggles.
The Beauty That Remains by Ashley Woodfolk
After three different people experience heartbreaking losses, they must learn to cope with the new emotional space they find themselves in. What all three have in common is a love for music, specifically one band. Autumn, Shay and Logan are united in their grief and love for music in this heartbreaking and well-written YA novel.
The Library Book by Susan Orlean
As a writer (sort of) I really love to read creative nonfiction works by other writers. I will admit that I wasn't too interested in the fire at the LAPL when I first picked this up for a book club, but Orlean does a great job weaving together the history of both the library and Harry Peak as well as building up the event. It reminded me a lot of The Devil in the White City with the chapters going back and forth almost between major players in the book. I can't wait to pick up more from her to read this year.
The Wives by Tarryn Fisher
I love a good twist, but this book had me all kinds of confused by the end. A man has three wives, one who doesn't want kids, one who can't have them, and one that is carrying his child. But what happens when the second wife steps out of line and wants it all? This thriller follows Thursday on her mission to become the only woman in Sam's life, but it may cost her everything. The twists this book takes could have been great, but I feel things ended too quickly which left me kind of jarred after finishing Fisher's novel. It also deals with issues of mental health and miscarriage blaming, so reader beware if these are things that are hard to swallow.
If you're interested in any of these books, I've left links below. Let me know what you read in February and check out my post for January if you haven't seen it yet!
So if you haven't looked at my Instagram in awhile — or if you don't have Instagram — I've really dove back into reading this year. I don't have much else to do and it's better than playing on my phone, so I've been trying to knock out my almost 30-book-high TBR (to be read) stack so that I can buy more books. The problem is that I buy more books anyways so the stack continues to grow. But in an effort to document everything I've read this year and share it with all of you, I'll be doing monthly roundups of my reads with reviews. So here's what I read in January... on the last day of March.
Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
I went through this book really fast but I didn’t feel like I was going fast anywhere. The ending felt a little anticlimactic for me and I finished it feeling that there was more to be told here. I think this book is a great opening for discussions into race but I also didn’t feel that it went deep enough. Emira is such a strong character that she could’ve been utilized more to have those kinds of conversations… but maybe that’s the point. She is your average person trying not to be in the spotlight and deal with those hard situations head on. Her relationships with Alix and Kelley really show that. Overall, I did enjoy the book but wanted it to dive deeper and have a bigger climax.
The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo
This was such a fast read. With the ease of Santopolo’s writing and the short chapters that left me wanting to keep going, this was a 24-hour read for me. The cover has a quote from Redbook saying it’s ~the~ epic love story, and I have to agree. Filled with hope, sadness, love and heartbreak, The Light We Lost was a beautiful book and I thank my SIL for recommending. I became so invested in the love story of Gabe and Lucy and the ending just completely broke my heart. Despite that, it was one of the best books I’ve read and the one that I feel most emotionally connected to.
One Day in December by Josie Silver
** Spoiler alert **
Sometimes you just need to read a good love story with a predictable ending. First off, Laurie and Sarah’s friendship is one everyone hopes for, someone who is there for you no matter what... even though your friend starts dating the boy you’re in love with. I kept thinking that Laurie and Jack were going to get together toward the beginning but Silver makes you go through Laurie’s entire meeting, engagement and marriage with another man. I won’t lie and say I wasn’t rooting for Oscar a little bit. It was almost better to get that delayed gratification of Jack and Laurie coming together after so many years and so many ups and downs. The book ended perfectly and I can’t wait to read more from Silver! She just has an ease in writing that makes her story hard to put down.
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
I really enjoyed this book! I had put it off for awhile because I was unsure about it, but the perspective of the three narrators woven together to tell the story as well as Roy and Celestial’s letters created a beautiful but heartbreaking tale of the trials of marriage.
Winner Take Nothing by Ernest Hemingway
While I’ve deduced that I’m not a huge Hemingway fan, I can appreciate his particular style of writing, especially when it’s packaged into short stories like this. There were some I liked and some I loved and some I really despised, but if you want to get started with Hemingway and familiarize yourself with his writing and like short stories, this is a good place to start.
Shop all my January 2020 reads below and be on the lookout for my February 2020 reads coming soon (like in half an hour soon)!