I’m back!!! Gah, I feel like I’ve been away for a looooong time! Between adjusting to the start of the semester, starting my 21K preps, taking time off to be with my family for my grandmother’s passing, and the hullabaloo over the outbreak, I feel like I haven’t had much time to sit down to write and think!
Fortunately (or unfortunately), they suspended classes for a week because of the outbreak. Technically I have like twice the amount of take-home work now, but I’ll get to them later…
That sounds like a weird thing to say when the entire world is panicking over COVID, but after reading all the infographics about it, it sounds like the panic is unnecessary. As an epidemiologist friend of mine said, we should be cautious and vigilant, but not panicky. I feel like the panic might be causing more harm than the virus itself, and the fact that a lot of governments (like ours) aren’t equipped and so are scrambling to take extreme measures. But oh well, here we are.
Anyway, back to the topic of this post, which is my February wrap-up! I read 10 books this February, and I’m really happy they turned out to be mostly 4-star reads. Here’s a quick rundown of everything.
Three Daughters of Eve by Elif Shafak – ★★★★☆ – Set in modern-day Istanbul, this novel follows Peri, a middle-aged woman whose life hasn’t quite turned out the way she expected because of a mysterious event in her past. It’s an ambitious novel that explores big themes, like the clash between religious and secular culture and tradition and modernity. While I loved the protagonist and the storytelling, the rest of the characters seemed to be relegated to mouthpieces for ideologies, and there were major plot points that weren’t resolved in the end. Read my full review here.
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones – ★★★★☆ – A beautifully written, lyrical novel, An American Marriage is the portrait of the disintegration of a marriage after the husband, Roy, is falsely imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit. It alternates between the points of view of the husband, Roy; the wife, Celestial; and Celestial’s best friend, Andre, who supports her throughout Roy’s imprisonment. What I liked about this was that this was a social critique of racism and the criminal justice system with a very intimate scope. At the same time, though, it didn’t always sit well with me when some of the characters stubbornly insisted on the morality of their actions when it was clear that their actions were already hurting other people. Still, a solid four stars because it really made me think. Full review to come.
In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado – ★★★★★ – This was a heartbreaking, gorgeously-written memoir about queer abuse. With such memoirs there might be a tendency to present all the horrific details relentlessly in a bid for the reader’s sympathy, but Macahdo’s memoir finds the delicate balance between portraying the emotional abuse and locating her experience within the experiences of those before her, and tries to talk about why such experiences are silenced. Machado also experimented with various literary conventions and sci-fi concepts, which mostly succeeded for me. Full review to come.
The Dry by Jane Harper (Aaron Falk #1) – ★★★★☆ – The Dry is set in the small farming town of Kiewarra, the hometown of the protagonist-turned-reluctant crime detective. Falk returns home for the funeral of an old friend, but when prompted by his friend’s parents to dig deeper into the cause of his friend’s death, he finds that things aren’t what they seem. The investigation is complicated when Falk’s own past is brought to light. A highly atmospheric and claustrophobic mystery with a lot of red herrings and a surprising and well-executed twist at the end.
Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid – ★★★★☆ (4.5) – This is one of the most buzzed-about novels of the year, and with good reason. Such a Fun Age tackles the subtle forms that racism takes in our age with very readable prose. In fact, it’s so readable that Reid’s brilliance in capturing these nuances can be easily overlooked. A compulsively readable novel that gave me a lot to think about after I finished it. Full review here.
The Horde Kings of Dakkar Series by Zoey Draven – ★★★★☆ – One reviewer on Goodreads called this series a cross between the Dothraki from Game of Thrones and Ruby Dixon’s Ice Planet Barbarians series, and until now that’s the most accurate description I’ve come across for this series. It’s a ridiculous and implausible alien romance set on a planet that’s not earth but similar to it. It’s surprisingly well-written and well-paced, with adequate world-building for something that’s mainly smut. Personally, I preferred the second book to the first, since I found the characters more relatable and the romance more organic, but both books were a fun read, and a great addition to the romance/fantasy subgenre. I can’t wait for the next instalment.
Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire (Wayward Children #1) – ★★★★☆ – I can’t believe I waited so long to read this! This series is the embodiment of the whole dark-fairytale vibe that I’m such a sucker for. In this series, children disappear for months, sometimes years at a time, and then suddenly reappear in odd places at their home, claiming they’ve gone to such-and-such place and that they want to go back. Understandably their parents are worried, and so bring them to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children. Outwardly Eleanor promises to reform the children, but in reality she was one of those children herself. In her boarding school, she houses children who came from an astonishing variety of worlds, and I loved discovering the different worlds that McGuire cooked up. There was also the mystery of children turning up dead that needed to be solved, and mysteries are always a plus for me. My only complaint was that it was too short, and because it was so short, the worlds-building wasn’t fully expounded on. Full review to come when I finish the series.
Down among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire (Wayward Children #2) – ★★★★☆ – This is a prequel to the first book, which tells the story of Jack and Jill, the two sisters in the first book. This was dark and grisly and fable-like, and maybe because it was set in a different world, I found that I liked it more than the first one.
Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin (Serpent & Dove #1) – ★★★★☆ – This was my #Februwitchy read for the month, a read-a-thon hosted by the wonderful Asha. I’m glad I got to finish at least one from my list! And what a read it was – once I started it, I couldn’t put it down! I wasn’t planning to stay up so late finishing it, especially since I had to be up early the next day, but it was almost physically painful to tear myself away from the story even just to shower and brush my teeth. This was a fast-paced, action-packed witch and witch-hunter romance. To be honest, I don’t completely understand the world-building, and the arranged marriage felt too forced to me, but it was an overall fun read. I can’t wait for the next one! Read my full review here.
Well, that’s it for my February. I didn’t read a lot this month, but I’m glad because I was able to knock five books off my TBR! (I had a secret February TBR that I didn’t think I was actually going to follow.) Overall, I’m pretty satisfied with my line-up of books this month, but I hope I can catch up on actually reviewing them. Also, I’m excited for this March since it’s Women’s Month, and there are a couple of books on the Women’s Prize Longlist that I’m looking forward to reading.
Have you read any of these books? What did you think? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!
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4 thoughts on “February 2020 Wrap-up”
I look forward to your full reviews of In the Dream House (which I thought was excellent) and Such a Fun Age (which I’m excited to get to).
Thanks Callum! I was surprised with how readable Such a Fun Age turned out to be, given the issues it tries to address. I hope it’ll be a win for you. 🙂
Wow, it looks like you had such a great month, all of your ratings are so high! I just read In the Dream House a few days ago and loved it as well. 🙂
Yes, I did! I was very pleased 😌 Oooh, looking forward to reading what you thought of it. It was definitely the highlight of my February.