February has come and gone and it’s the first month in a long time that didn’t feel like it disappeared, which is nice for a change. It was also a month when the Seattle weather matched my reading—unpredictable, with sunny highs and cold lows, snow, high winds, thunder, sleet, hail…you name it. In both cases (reading and weather), I didn’t mind it too much except that the beautiful camellia tree in our backyard, which always blooms in February, finally gave up blooming after being frozen and battered. Normally by now, it’s a solid pink lollipop of flowers, but this year what flowers are left are bruised orange and the buds have fallen off. Regarding my reading, I had two five stars books which was lovely, but I also gave up on several books, and the rest were all over the board.
Good Neighbors by Joanne Serling
Published by Twelve
Publication date: February 6th 2018
From a prologue that talks about how idyllic the neighborhood is to the first chapter when the narrator proceeds to snidely comment on everything that’s wrong with her neighbors (and best friends supposedly)—snobby, aging, remote, this novel is dreadful. Here is how she describes one such ‘friend’:
…so that the weak sun hit her pale and aging face, the tiny cracks and places where her cheeks fell in.
I’ll go all in on this one and include a pet peeve. Author Joanne Serling has a love of exclamation points that is nails on chalkboard. Not just in her characters dialogue, but throughout the narrative, with one in almost every paragraph and usually, several.
Cameron interjecting in a loud stage whisper to point out what his friend already knew. That this was his club! That he already knew where all the treasures were hidden!
It made me cringe and DNF this at 20%.
The Black Painting by Neil Olson
Published by Hanover Square Press
Publication date: January 9th 2018
An obscure Goya self-portrait is at the center of The Black Painting and the Morse family, who owns it. Or did until it was stolen after which time the family fractured amidst distrust and dysfuntion. Now with their grandfather dead under mysterious circumstances, cousins Teresa, James, Audrey, and Kenny are brought back together for the first time in a decade and things get complicated fast. Too complicated. I finished because it’s a mystery and I wanted to know whodunit, but got the sense that Olson decided the murderer at the last minute by throwing a dart at the list of characters.
Song of a Captive Bird by Jasmin Darznik: 5 star love, my review
Girls Burn Brighter by Shobha Rao : Review to follow
After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Published by Washington Square Press
Publication date: July 1st 2014
After falling love with Reid’s The Seven Husband’s of Evelyn Hugo last month I knew I wanted to read something else by her but had no idea what. Thankfully, Eva at Paperback Princess, recommended After I Do. While it did not have the depth of Evelyn Hugo, this novel was a perfect sorbet after some particularly difficult reading. Ryan and Lauren get married right after college, but quickly find that passion can easily ferment into resentment and disinterest if not handled properly. They decide to separate for a year, with no contact, to see if what they had is worth saving. Reid writes well and provides nuance for all her characters, making this chick-lit with a bit of oomph.
The House of Impossible Beauties by Jon Cassara: Review to follow
White Houses by Amy Bloom: Review to follow
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones: My second five star for 2018, my review
My friend Sarah does this great thing on her blog—including what she was reading a year or more ago at this time. I always enjoy it so thought I’d add it in my monthly recaps to give a bit of love to backlist books.
I Was Reading
In February 2017:
A thriller I still consider to be one of my favorites of all time
One of those novels so creative it’s hard to classify
In February 2016:
A novel about finding the space between being a woman and being a creative that made me weep
A story of racism in the 1930s that is just as relevant now
Susie | Novel Visits says
February might be my least favorite month of the year. By the time it arrives I am just plain over winter. I’m hoping we get a lot of sun in March. My soul needs it. Also, hoping we come across a marvelous couple of books because that’s good for the soul, too. Your February looks about the same as mine in terms of books. On to March!
Ann Marie says
Glad to hear Song of the Captive Bird was a winner. I’ve got a copy of The Black Painting but I haven’t reached for it. I’m not sure I’ll be jumping to read it any time soon.
I’m so glad to hear that you enjoyed After I Do; even though none of her previous novels have the depth of Evelyn Hugo, they were no less enjoyable for me. I hope you’ll try another! I’ve read them all – ha! I’m interested to hear what you think about White Houses; I’ve been curious about this one, but a little hesitant. I hope your March reading is little more successful, but a five star can’t be beat!
Is it horrible that I love your “this didn’t work for me” reviews? It’s not that I want bad reading for you, but there is both entertainment value to be had and you often allow me to take something off my own list, shrinking rather than expanding it. I am so with you on the !! front. Few things turn me off more. If you can’t get across the emotion of a !, then you are not a very good writer. Very rarely are they well-used. Hope your March is better!
Are you kidding me? You’re enabling me to be snarky so it’s a win-win.
And you are a sly one. Don’t think I didn’t see what you just did.
Oooo I’ll be interested to see what you thought of White Houses! I bought it and started it, but something wasn’t grabbing me so I had to move on to something else for the time being.