What I Read In February

Isn’t it strange that January lasted an age but February was a blink, and you’ll miss it kind of a month? Well, it certainly was for me. I have a March Goals post coming up since I’m slowly introducing some lifestyle bits and bobs into the blog again but let’s just say, March is one busy, busy, exciting month! That being said, I don’t think I’ll get much reading done. I managed to get through 9 books in February, and I’m pleased with that number, to be honest. I had a tough time some of February, so I was resorting to reading more than often. Here is what I managed to get through …

The Atlas of Reds and Blues by Devi S Lasker

My first read of the month was incredibly moving and a solid four-star that I won’t forget any time soon. Our protagonist is lying in her driveway, after being shot by a police officer while an unjustifiable raid takes place on her home. She begins to remember things in her life including the racism and bullying she has experienced. It is a powerful book, and you can read my full review here. I strongly recommend reading this.

Number One Chinese Restaurant by Lillian Li

This book for me is an excellent example of why you should always ignore GoodReads ratings and go with what you think. I personally really enjoyed this book. Dysfunctional families are one of my favourite things to read about, so it was a no brainer that when I read the blurb of this, that I realised this style of the book is up my ally.

The book centres around The Duck House – a Chinese restaurant in Maryland founded by the late Bobby Han. Despite being a dated restaurant that has seen better days, it is still popular with the locals. Bobby’s son, Jimmy, has huge plans to open an Asian fusion restaurant but sadly, this comes at a cost. When tragedy hits, we learn the ripple effects this event has on the restaurant’s servers and Bobby’s family.

Although I disliked many of the characters, I enjoyed reading about life at The Duck House. There were times when the book dragged, and I do believe it could have been cut shorter, but I did enjoy Lillian Li’s writing. I’m a sucker for dysfunction family dramas, and although this didn’t tick the family box, because their lives were so tangled with one another, it felt like one. There was also an underlying theme of crime which I didn’t expect but very much enjoyed. Overall, I enjoyed Number One Chinese Restaurant but, I know this won’t be one for everyone. I rated this four stars.

The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez

We are introduced to various characters, from different places with different issues, who have all tried to make the USA their home. I found myself so attached to Alma and Maribel as characters and the whole book made me so aware of how blessed I am to have grown up where I have with all the privileges I have always taken for granted. A real eye-opener, beautifully written and I must admit, it made me cry. My second five-star book of this year and I couldn’t recommend it enough

Norweigan Wood by Haruki Murakami

You know when you hear about a great author, and you’ve just taken a while to get round to reading them? This is me with Murakami, and I could kick myself for not reading this sooner as I fell in love with it. Another five star. Toro is a young Japanese university student, with a love for Naoko, a girl he has known most of his life. Circumstances are complicated and they can’t be together, but he longs for the day that they can finally live the life he imagines. When Midori, a quirky, young student enters his life – she turns things upside down. This book is hailed as a love story, but I don’t believe it is. There wasn’t any mushy romance. The writing was amazing. Everything about the book was fabulous, and you can see easily why Murakami has the reputation for being a world-renowned author after reading this. I’ve since read another short story of his and plan to read another of his soon.

Birthday Girl by Haruki Murakami

A strange, peculiar short story. One rainy Tokyo night, a waitress’s uneventful twentieth birthday takes a unique and fateful turn when she’s asked to deliver dinner to the restaurant’s reclusive owner. I’m not going to say too much more because I’d give something away, but it was an open ending that got you thinking. I rated it a three star.

Mr Salary by Sally Rooney

I don’t know what it is about Sally Rooney, but she intrigues me. I was very moved in the end by Normal People, despite not feeling the same passion I would be for a book that invoked the same feeling. I decided to pick up Mr Salary because I was curious, but I didn’t enjoy this – more of a two star for me. Sukie returns from Boston to visit her father in the hospital and is picked up by Nathan. There is a massive amount of sexual tension between them, but they are, like most of her stories, a will they won’t they couple. Mr Salary was 40 pages, and I didn’t enjoy much of it. It could have been so much more if it had just been extended a little, but I wasn’t satisfied. Yet for some reason, I can’t give up on this author!!

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

This was one of my most anticipated thrillers of 2019. I’d heard so many good things about it in December, and then it was one of the Book of The Month selections, which we sadly don’t get here in the UK. It caused a real buzz when it was released, and I instantly wanted my hands on it. Most thrillers are marketed as ‘the twist you didn’t see coming’ or liking it to another huge success but this one, really did take me by surprise. Alicia Bernerson is a happily married artist until one day, she shoots her husband dead and never speaks again. Theo, a psychotherapist, is very interested in Alicia’s case and thinks he can be the one to get her to talk about why she did what she did. The book is a slow burner; at points, I could find myself switching off. But the ending, more than made up for it. There were little crumbs left for you to find, but due to the slow pace, I didn’t pick up on them till afterwards. A solid four stars and a stellar debut.

The Book of Essie by Meghan Maclean Weir

The Book of Essie has been a book I’ve been dying to get my hands on since late last year after seeing it all over Instagram in the USA.

The book follows Essie, a teenage girl and member of the Hick’s family who are reality TV stars with their own hugely successful show Six for Hicks – documenting raising a family with strict religious beliefs. Her father is a pastor and Essie and her siblings have grown up in front of the nation. But when Essie gets pregnant, there is a panic between her mother and production – do they cross state lines to get Essie an abortion, play the baby off as Celia’s (Essie’s Mother) or have Essie get married as soon as possible. The book flips between three POVs – Essie’s, a boy named Roarke who is Essie’s potential suitor and Liberty, a member of the production team who Essie trusts.

I enjoyed the writing, and I thought the story was quite unique. I’m generally drawn to reading books on cult-like/religious groups, so this slightly fit the bill in that sense. But, as interesting as the plot was, it didn’t hold my attention too much after the first few chapters. It had so much potential but for me, fell short. If we had solely focused on Essie and her issue, it would have been great, but the different layers that were added left me feeling a little bored. A three-star.

Golden Child by Claire Adam

Well, this was a giant disappointment. Clyde and Joy are parents to two twin sons – Peter, who is the golden child and excels at everything and Paul, who isn’t as naturally talented as his brother. His parents are determined that they both attend the same exclusive school, despite there being a gap in their abilities. When Paul doesn’t return home from a walk, Clyde learns that he must make an impossible choice.

To be frank with you, I just didn’t click with this book. To be quite honest, I found it boring. It was way too slow, and the character development could have been much tighter. There were POVs from characters I didn’t think were necessary and I absolutely hated the language. Hearing the word retarded so much made me despise the parents that I totally disconnected from them. The writing was good, but not great. A few tweaks and this could easily have been a three or four for me, but sadly, it fell flat — a two-star from me.

Blood Orange – Harriet Tyce

This book has been EVERYWHERE, and I am a reader who gets swept into the hype very quickly. Described as a heart-pounding thriller, I was sold.

Alison is a high flying lawyer who has worked hard to get to the point she is in her career – about to be handed her first murder trial. But, she’s also a borderline alcoholic, neglects to spend time with her husband and daughter and is having an affair. When she meets her client, who doesn’t deny she stabbed her husband and want to plead guilty, something in her gut tells her something isn’t right. When she starts to also receive anonymous text messages, she wants to make sure her secrets stay secret.

Alison is a painfully, infuriating main character. I absolutely hated her and she never once had any positive feelings towards her. She was annoying and utterly selfish. There was a point maybe around 30% the way through that I thought of DNFing but I ploughed on, and I’m glad I did.

The plot, minus the misfortune of having to deal with Alison’s behaviour, is good but I do feel like the book has included a couple of themes from other popular thrillers rolled into one which isn’t a bad thing but I probably didn’t get the surprise of the twists quite as much as I had them pretty much sussed. It was good, well written but a bit of a slow burner.  The end did have a nice little twist so I did put the book down a little more satisfied than I would have without that element.  Overall, it is a good book but nothing unique – although I would recommend it. Three stars it is — a definite for fans of An Anatomy of A Scandal and Apple Tree Yard.

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