This month is rushing past and I don’t really know what to make of that. I’ve also started uni now, but I’m trying to study during the day and spend half an hour or so before bed reading a book of my choice, instead of reading only books for uni. So far, so good!
In February I finished 7 books, though some of them I’ve been chugging through for a while.
I read two non-fiction books; a memoir (of sorts) and a book of poetry. Dead People Suck (Laurie Kilmartin) I gave 4 of 5 stars and is a hilarious mix of memoir and advice. Comedian Laurie Kilmartin reflects on death and grief, drawing upon experiences that are relatable, bizarre, and often funny in that verging-on-inappropriate-way-because-it’s-a-book-about-dying. I also finished Eighteen Years (Madisen Kuhn), which I gave 3. I always find it difficult to review poetry books because some poems I love and relate to, while others don’t capture my attention. I’ve already read Kuhn’s other two poetry books, though this was the first she wrote, and I can see how she has matured as a writer.
I read two mystery novels; Shiver (Allie Reynolds), which I gave 4 stars, and Gone Girl (Gillian Flynn), which I gave a well-deserved 5 of 5 stars. Shiver was a murder mystery I consumed in one day, and alternate chapters reveal the truth of the past and present. Five friends, all competitive snowboarders, reunite in the French Alps years after the disappearance of another snowboarder. Nearly every chapter ended on some sort of cliff hanger, whether related to the mystery, murder, or destructively-competitive ‘games’ the snowboarders would use on each other to win. This wasn’t the best written novel I’ve ever read, but I did love the slow reveal of what happened in the past and how it correlates to them in the present. It wasn’t gory or very detailed, either, which I like; it was more suspenseful and fun because you weren’t sure what was going on until the very end.
I’ve finally gotten into the hype of Gone Girl (Gillian Flynn), though I’m a few years late to the party. But it is, as everyone promised, one of the cleverest books I’ve ever read. Told in alternating point of views; Amy and Nick, married five years, the reader slowly learns the truth behind Amy’s disappearance, and supposed death, while Nick’s world unravels. What seems like an obvious case – husband kills wife – is actually an extraordinary, well-planned setup. I won’t give anything away, because the whole book is such a raw experience, but even if you know part of what happens, you’ll still be surprised and entertained. There is so much wit and intelligence in this book, I can’t wait to read it again and pick up on things I didn’t notice the first time around.
The other three books I read this month were novels. Such a Fun Age (Kiley Reid) I gave 4 of 5 stars and is about the aftermath of what happens to Emira when she is accused of kidnapping the child she is babysitting. For the first half of this book, I was going to give it 5 stars. I love the writing style and find the descriptions beautiful yet easy to read and the characters, entwined with chapters on their past, were intriguing and I wanted to learn more. What brought this book down to a 4 was the anticlimactic nature of the premise. Most of the book ends up centring on Alix (the toddlers mum) and her petty high school revenge rather than the accusation itself. This made the ending feel lacking despite the lovely writing.
Grace in the Desert (Christine Dillon) is the fourth book in the Grace series, and my favourite to date. I gave it 4 stars. This book follows Rachel in the aftermath of her sister’s death and the reconciliation of her mother with her father, with whom she still hasn’t forgiven for his actions in the past. This story was a beautiful rollercoaster of victories and sadness, and it gave realistic examples of true forgiveness and how difficult it can be, and the healing that can be found in Jesus.
Lastly is American Dirt (Jeanine Cummins), which received 4 stars. It tells the story of Lydia, who lives in Mexico with her journalist husband and son. But everything changes when the cartel kill her husband and other extended family one day in her backyard, leaving only Lydia and her son, Luca. Their only option is to flee, and we go through their life as they become migrants trying to reach America before the cartel find them. This book was beautifully written, weaving together the story of how they came to be hunted by a cartel, and tragic yet hopeful.