Take a look at what I read in February 2020 and a peak into my March to-be-read list.
Well, if January is the month of heightened expectations and increased motivation… February is the crashing reality. I read significantly less in February, but sometimes that happens, and admittedly, I still read a good number of books. Life can get busy; work gets busy; motivation gets lazy. Even though I didn’t read as much this month, I found a couple new favorites. So, I count that as a win in my book. To me, it’s about enjoying what you read. Keep reading for my rapid reviews and ratings for the six books I read last month.
The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas
This book was… okay. I’m not normally a mystery reader, so I was honestly a bit surprised by my desire to pick this one up. The premise sounded intriguing, but the actual plot fell somewhat flat for me. This story was a bit predictable and formulaic in nature, which I wouldn’t necessarily mind if the characters had been more compelling. In contrast to its predictability, a few plot points felt almost too unrealistic. I did enjoy the flashback chapters and the insight into a few of the characters’ actions, but ultimately the characters were all just a bit forgettable. However, this book did deal with some important and timely topics (please check Goodreads for trigger warnings), and I appreciated that discussion.
In a small town called Sunnybrook, cheerleaders are a big deal, so when five die within a disturbingly short time period, those left behind must deal with the trauma and mystery surrounding their losses.
Uprooted by Naomi Novik
I’ve heard great things about Naomi Novik, especially about her two novels Uprooted and Spinning Silver. So, when I saw a copy of Uprooted at my local used bookstore, I grabbed it immediately. I so wanted to love this book, but ultimately, I’m not sure I do. The plot felt a bit disjointed to me – the first half felt like a character story with exquisite writing, and the second half felt like a traditional plot-driven fantasy. Additionally, the basis for the romance still gives me the ~creeps~ a little bit, though I understand this is a typical enemies-to-lovers set-up. Though Uprooted wasn’t my favorite, I still want to give Spinning Silver a try, which I’ve heard better things about anyhow.
Agnieszka lives in a world of solitude on the edge of a terrifying, consuming Wood, driving her village to rely on the Dragon – a powerful wizard – to protect them, even as he takes one of their own every ten years.
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
I loved The Picture of Dorian Gray. As part of my goal to read more classics this year, I decided to pick up Oscar Wilde last month, and I was rewarded with a new favorite. This plot captured me from the synopsis and kept me on the edge of my seat throughout reading. My only complaint and the reason for the 4.5 star rating, is the length. Now, I do not have a full version of this novel as it was intended to be published before editing (this was originally published in a Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine and heavily censored by the editor), so if I get my hands on one this rating will likely change. Beyond the captivating plot, this novel is an examination of aestheticism and a character study that offers insight into vanity, greed and the dangers of not thinking for oneself.
Dorian Gray was an innocent before – before Basil Hallward painted a portrait of him and before Lord Henry Wotton spoke nonsense into his head – but that has all changed as Dorian’s obsession with his portrait grows in this tale of morality, artistic expression and vanity.
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
I loved Brown Girl Dreaming. I’d read If You Come Softly by Jacqueline Woodson last year and fallen in love with her writing, but Brown Girl Dreaming took that love to a new level. This middle grade book is an extremely powerful and poignant story, and I understand why it has won all the awards. This autobiographical collection of poetry tells the story of Woodson’s young life, which was both beautiful and difficult to read at times. I found her struggles to define and find home incredibly touching, especially with the emphasis on Southern roots. This is a coming-of-age story with insights into the problems of the past and present, including sexism, racism and finding hope and home in a broken world.
Brown Girl Dreaming chronicles Jacqueline Woodson’s childhood in a collection of poems as she grew up in South Carolina and New York in the 1960s and 1970s, living through remnants of the Jim Crow South and growing Civil Rights movement.
Dear Martin by Nic Stone
The reality of this plot makes it incredibly heartbreaking, but Nic Stone manages to effortlessly weave together tragedy, reality and hope. While I enjoyed this book immensely, I do think it could have been longer to more fully flesh out some plot points and characters. In addition, I wish an exploration of sexism had been more present here; a few remarks throughout this story made me think a study of misogyny was forthcoming, but it never materialized as much as I would have hoped. However, overall this book is so important, and I highly recommend any and everyone read this. Justyce’s story serves as a great conversation starter and gives readers cause to think deeply about long-ingrained ideas of racism and prejudice in America.
Justyce McAllister is Ivy League bound and a great student, but who he is doesn’t seem to matter to the police officer who puts him in handcuffs one night and ultimately sets off a tragic chain of events that leads Justyce to begin writing journal letters to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., looking for answers about the world we live in and who he wants to become.
Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler
Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler was the latest Life’s Library Book Club pick. When I picked this book up, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. I’d heard amazing things about Butler’s writing and this story in particular, and I was not disappointed. There were a few points that led me to rate this 4 instead of 5 stars, but overall I really enjoyed this exploration of religion and hope in a broken world. This plot was simple, yet the main character Lauren’s musings on religion, love, hope and change were thought-provoking. While I found parts of this book a little slow, and I wished for more in-depth thoughts on Earthseed (the “religion” Lauren founds), I do plan on picking up the sequel. Butler excelled at creating an eerily realistic world where an apocalyptic landscape rules the lives of Americans… starting in 2024.
Lauren Olamina lives with her family behind the safety of their neighborhood walls isolated from a world where climate change, war, drugs and disease have altered the nation, until one day the walls come down, and Lauren, who struggles with hyperempathy – a weakness in a savage world leading her to feel others’ pain – must leave everything she knows to survive.
Well, there you have it! These were the six books I read in February. Now, here’s a sneak peak at my March to-be-read list. What are you reading in March? Let me know in the comments!
- The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
- The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison (carried over from February reading)
- Little Women by Louisa May Alcott