I read a lot of books in February. I was behind on my GoodReads reading challenge and have been trying to combine my desperate need for a better work-life balance with my hobby of reading. Without further ado, here are the books I read in February and my thoughts on them.
A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge
I picked up this book in Waterloo station around Christmas time because the cover is beautiful, I was waiting for a train and saw that it was half price. I have been interested in paranormal books for the last few months and so it seemed a perfect fit. It totally was!
We follow young protagonist, Makepeace, through her strange upbringing with her mother in a small village, where her mother seems to be in hiding. She tells Makepeace about her tendency to be claimed by ghosts and tries to prepare her by leaving her in graveyards to learn to silence the ghosts that try to live inside her. Resentful of her mother, an accident happens and Makepeace gets taken to the very place her mother ran from and we learn all about her family’s secrets.
This book was fast-paced, intriguing, clever and beautifully written. I devoured its spookiness and would recommend it to anyone! Buy it here.
Before we Visit The Goddess by Chita Banerjee Divakaruni
I’m still trying to read more books by POC authors and absolutely devoured this one! It follows three generations of women, their triumphs and mistakes and what they wanted to teach their daughters and what they actually did. It begins in India where we see Sabitri’s luck blossom and then be brutally stripped from her when she falls in love with a boy. We watch her raise her daughter differently, until love ruins their relationship too and Bela, haunted by the feeling that she has offended her mother, flees India for America, where her boyfriend is seeking political refuge.
She raises her own daughter, Tara, with nearly no knowledge of her Indian culture and it seems the biggest shame that Tara and Sabitri never meet when they could have learned so much from each other.
It was heartwarming, heart-wrenching, deliciously detailed with Indian delicacies (Sabitri owned a sweet shop, honouring her own mother), and I just really really loved it. There was a lot in there about family and forgiveness and how people never change and people wouldn’t be sorry anyway and I really needed to read that for my own reasons. It’s just a fabulous book and I wish more people knew about it. Go get it!
The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton
I don’t know how I escaped this book for so long and I don’t know what I thought it was going to be but it defied all expectations. The Miniaturist, really, is a very sad book about love and life and how people can’t be anything other than who they are, even when it hurts the people they love the most. This book was haunting and tragic and surprising at every turn. I so wish that the actual miniaturist character would have had more of a part to play in this novel because I was so curious and spooked by her presence and also how she was never really present.
I think, more than anything, it’s a book about a disjointed family and loyalty and what it’s like to be on the outskirts of society even when you’re technically high society. It was just beautiful but I wish it could have ended literally any other way than the way it did. Buy it here!
History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund
I gave this book 1 star, which I’m not sure if I’ve ever done before. I, being a snob, bought it as it was a long listed nominee of the Man Booker Prize. I thought it would be a Gone Girl style thriller, fast-paced and shocking at every turn. I thought it would be dark and quick-witted but it was slow and nothing ever really happened. It was boring but I don’t quit on books so I hung on in there and now I wish I never had.
It’s slow, the characters are not very well-developed at all, in fact, everyone you read about is a stranger to you. We can’t tell if the protagonist is a pervert and a sociopath or just a weird teenager with an unfortunate upbringing, bored and looking for something to cling to for entertainment. The author tries to get us to sympathise with paedophiles and religious menaces who destroy their own children for their faith and I just couldn’t get on board with it. The ending was especially shit. I don’t know guys, I’d give this one a miss but just in case!
The Bear and The Nightingale by Katherine Arden
The Bear and The Nightingale is such a good book and deserves all of its praise! Set in Russia, it’s the perfect book for anyone who loves magical realism. Growing up, the siblings hear a lot of stories and Russian fairytale and leave givings for old Gods…but a revolution of sorts comes to town with a priest! Fear spreads, the old Gods suffer and at the heart of it all is a girl who wants more than the ‘lot of women’, astounds her fellow neighbours and has no idea that having her head in the clouds is the key to it all. I just loved this book, I devoured it so easily and I can’t wait to read the second book of the series! Get it here!
I’m incredibly happy with my reading challenge so far! I’m just about on track to read 50 books! How is your reading challenge going?