Shocker, I’m behind by a few weeks in reviewing my February reads.
The shortest month of the year has been completed! We even got an extra day this year, so I can be thankful for that. I had to make a few difficult decisions this month, and I find myself continually grateful that I have reading to turn to when life gets a bit…stressful. Stressful’s a nice term, in some circumstances (insert laughing emoji accompanied by the grinning and sweating emoji here). I want to take a moment to reflect on the things I learned this month, because in this new(ish) year I’d like to take more time to think deeply and positively about life. I think it could be a difference maker?
- Just because there are two choices doesn’t mean that one is actually any better than the other option; still, you do have to eventually choose.
- You can definitely deal with waking up earlier than you’re used to if it means that your baby will sleep through the night.
- I love basketball season so much, but I also love when the season ends.
- I should be every bit as kind to myself as I am to the books I read.
- Go outside when you get the chance (even if you don’t think you want to). It’s late winter; you never know when the next opportunity will be.
- People can’t read your mind, and it’s unfair to expect them to do so. COMMUNICATE, even though it’s difficult when being misunderstood is your biggest fear.
I’m sure that isn’t all I learned, but it’s a start. Book time!
I completed 7 books this month and then breathed a sigh of contentment. The fact that I decided to set my reading goals at a lower this number has given me a new sense of freedom, in a way. I don’t feel any amount of shame when I don’t have a huge reading month because I know that it will all even out; some months I read a ridiculous amount and others I just don’t. That’s okay! As Miranda Lambert, says: it’ll all come out in the wash.
- Nonfiction: 1
- Fiction: 6
By Star Review:
- ✪✪✪✪✪ : 1
- ✪✪✪✪: 5
- ✪✪✪: 1
Favorite Read: Testimony
Most Likely to Recommend: Ask Again, Yes
Most Quotable: The Elegance of the Hedgehog
Most Important/Powerful/Heavy/Thought-Provoking: Testimony
Most Fun: It’s a definite toss-up– these two are equally fun in different ways! Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating and Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe.
Late to the Party: I’m not sure I’m particularly late to the party on any of them.
Favorite Instagram Post:
- Testimony, Anita Shreve
- Ask Again, Yes, Mary Beth Keane
- The Elegance of the Hedgehog, Muriel Barberry
- Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered, Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark
- Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating, Christina Lauren
- You Think It, I’ll Say It, Curtis Sittenfeld
- Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe, Jenny Colgan
Testimony, Anita Shreve
If you’re new to the party here at The Lowrey Library, you should know that I love a difficult, sad story. There’s something so much more realistic about that sort of tale, and it’s absolute catnip to me.
This book is that, and more. I worked as a high school English teacher for several years, so I consider myself well-versed in the manner and moods of teenagers. I understand their extremism and their childlike exaggeration of everyday events. This book is what happens when these traits are amplified in the worst possible way. I don’t want to give too much away, but I will describe the basic premise as presented in the first twenty-or-so pages. At an elite private school in New England, a group of teenagers partakes in a foolish evening affair after drinking copious amounts of alcohol. Following this evening, a video tape circulates on which a variety of sexual acts have been filmed. To complicate matters, a minor is involved, as are some of the best players on the school’s successful basketball team. This novel documents the fall-out of this event from a variety of perspectives, all of which I found interesting and compelling. I LOVED this book, because it seemed like something so realistic– I could picture this happening in any community across America. The different voices only served to make the story more real, as it described the way that this one terrible night impacted countless other people. I wasn’t really that familiar with Anita Shreve before this (I had read The Stars are Fire a few summers ago, and really liked it), but I think I will spend some time reading her works in the future.
Ask Again, Yes, Mary Beth Keane
Y’all know I love a good family drama. Spoiler, no spoiler: this is a great one. The novel spans four decades (beginning in the 1970s) and two families. It has everything I love: drama, intrigue, star-crossed love, multiple narrators.
The major question of this novel (for me) is whether or not it is possible to forgive and move on. When one family inflicts real, genuine pain on the other, it sets off a chain of events that will have far-reaching impact.
I really did like this book, but for whatever reason it just doesn’t grab me emotionally as strongly as others have. That may be one of those things that is true for me and not for you. Four stars! Would recommend. It also reminded me vaguely of Saints for All Occasions (just in tone and general setting/family situation, not so much in plot), which I also loved!
The Elegance of the Hedgehog, Muriel Barberry
For whatever reason, I expected this to be totally different! Maybe because there’s a young girl on the front cover? I may have even honestly thought this was middle grade? That was an inaccuracy.
This is a great book. It is. I will say, though, this is not a fun book. It is deeply philosophical, introspective, reflective. It is intellectual and also charming.
Another thing that makes this book interesting is the fact that there a very few actual characters– it focuses almost exclusively on only three. Others visit, yes, but they are not necessarily integral to the novel.
Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered, Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark
Disclaimer: When I read this, I had not listened to the My Favorite Murder podcast. Of course, I have since become obsessed and terrified by it, but at the time of reading I was not familiar with them. If I had been, I probably would have given this four stars instead of just three).
This is the only nonfiction I read this month! It was also the only audiobook I read this month (and in my personal opinion, this is best read that way! Karen and Georgia are master narrators).
I have no idea what I expected this to be, but it wasn’t that. This is more memoir told in turns by each of the authors, loosely connected to their podcast, My Favorite Murder. It’s a wildly popular and totally good podcast, and I understand why people were into this book. For me, it was good! I hadn’t listened to the podcast yet, but I did find it still enjoyable without that connection.
I will say, though, that I think if you want to enjoy this book as well as it probably deserves, listen to a few episodes of their podcast first. Things are just more compelling when you are vaguely familiar with the subject, I think.
Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating, Christina Lauren
If you want a fun, kind of steamy book with lovable characters, this is perfection in a brightly-colored cover. I haven’t read THAT MANY books in the realm of romantic comedy, but this one fits squarely into that subgenre. It’s adorable and a total romp and addictive: you’ll want to stay up late and wake up early to finish it. Love, marriage, all the good stuff.
When you need to read a book that is light and entertaining, I would look no further than this one. Also, the main character has like, five pets. So fans of animals might think this is a fun one, too! She’s also an elementary teacher; those don’t show up in fiction too frequently!
You Think It, I’ll Say It, Curtis Sittenfeld
Do you like short story collections? I don’t read them that frequently, but once a month (sometimes every quarter) I get the real hankering for a good short story collection. They’re particularly great for reading at bedtime or even just every so often when you feel like taking a break from your other reads.
I think Curtis Sittenfeld is a master. Eligible was a blast to read, and I haven’t gotten around to reading Prep or American Wife (though I do own them). There is a good variety of stories here; there are some that feel closely linked and related, while others are totally unique. Typically, I find that short story collections usually have some real winners and a few stories that are just okay; that’s also true in this situation. Still, I gave it four stars, and if you are someone who likes short stories…give it a go!
Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe, Jenny Colgan
Whatever, Jenny Colgan. You are amazing, and I will read everything by you that I can get my hands on.
Also, she liked one of my Bookstagram posts this month. I’m not joking.
This is a sweet (pun intended) story about a girl who gets fired from her job and suffers a break-up all the in the same day (even more painful considering that her boyfriend is her BOSS). So naturally, she decides the best thing to do is open a cupcake bakery. As one does.
I’m not going to give away much more because the story is just too much fun to ruin for anyone who might decide to read it, but I will say that the cast is full of colorful, memorable characters; there is a love triangle (a romance essential, if you ask me), and fun recipes dispersed throughout. If you’ve read Jenny Colgan before, then you know exactly what to expect from this one. It isn’t, in my opinion, as fantastic as The Little Beach Street Bakery or The Bookshop on the Corner, but it is still an absolute delight.
That’s February. Over and out.
My 2020 Reading Challenge is going a bit behind schedule; to be honest, I’m nervous about it because I already lowered my number from last year trying to be realistic. Still, I know that I read way more during the summer than I do the rest of the year (typically), so I’m holding on to that hope!
Good luck with the rest of March– I’ve never seen anything like it, but I’m sending prayers and well wishes to every corner of the world as we battle this virus. Stay healthy and…
Until next time, happy reading!