February—what a month! On the personal side there was what was known in Seattle as Snowmageddon: 10 days when we were slammed with 3 different storms that left us with 15” inches of snow, unplowed roads, and empty grocery stores. I realize all you readers in places where snow is the norm are laughing right now, but we don’t get snow. Period. This was huge. People were cross country skiing on main roads. Needless to say, I was a petulant child because we avoided moving to Michigan this winter to avoid exactly this kind of weather!
Happily, my cranky attitude was off-set by a month of really great reading. 10 out of the twelve books I read this month were 3.5 stars or above—something I haven’t had happen in a very long time. It was lovely and has certainly set the bar high for March. Here is some of my other reading from the month.
The Peacock Feast by Lisa Gornick
Published by Sarah Crichton Books
Publication date: February 5, 2019
I was looking forward to The Peacock Feast because it’s about the Tiffany family and the synopsis hints at loads of wealth and family behaving badly—reading catnip for me. Unfortunately, by 20% in the novel felt like a thorough, but dry recitation of facts. Each characters’ lineage is explained, but I felt no closer to any of them than I did on the first page. I wasn’t pulled into the story at all and so abandoned ship. I’m not even sure where the plot was going or what was the novel’s driving force.
A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rumi: Difficult reading about the life of Palestinian women living in America. Review to follow
Not to be dramatic, but I was recently betrayed by an author I considered to be a trusted ally. Shocking, I know. Sophie Kinsella writes the kind of chick-lit that is so perfect I automatically reach for it when nothing else works. She makes me laugh, but without being stupid or playing to stereotypes. I was crushed then to read her latest novel, I Owe You One. Actually, neither of those are accurate. I was not crushed, I was furious. I did not read it, I dumped it at 40%.
The main character’s name is Fixie—a name that was enough to give me pause, because it is ridiculous. No grown woman would let a nickname like that stick. But, I soldiered on, hoping it was a weak moment. My mistake. She is a doormat, a character type I’ve never seen from Kinsella before. Everyone walks on her and she just smiles and hopes things are going to get better. I might have been able to shrug this off, but it is the men in I Owe You who are the most egregious. They are loathsome stereotypes—from her money-hungry, bully of a brother who flat-out ignores every word out of her mouth to her uncle (who becomes her boss), a misogynist with pervert tendencies. Except, of course, for a Prince Charming. Yet another stereotype.
Maybe when I was younger I could laugh this off, but I don’t find it funny anymore. This was one of the books I was most looking forward to this winter so Kinsella is on thin ice with me now.
The Deeper the Water the Uglier the Fish by Katya Apekina: This profound debut covers the vast terrain of so many human emotions, all in a compulsively readabel novel about two sisters and their parents poisonous relationship. My review
The Last Romantics by Tara Conklin: An all-enveloping novel about three siblings. Review to follow
The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle
Published by Flatiron Books
Publication date: September 11, 2018
The Dinner List was a case of the wrong-time reading. I simply did not care about Sabrina’s lost love Tobias, what went wrong. The premise is cute but works better in theory: invite the five people you’d most like to talk to, to a dinner party. Audrey Hepburn is the most interesting choice in the book, but she’s used as bait to lure the reader in. The novel is really about unresolved issues with a father and a boyfriend and wasn’t enough to hold my interest.
Northern Lights by Raymond Strom: My review
The Stranger Inside by Laura Benedict: What do you do when you return home to find someone living in your house? Review to followBenedict Wells, Charlotte Collins
Published by Penguin Books
Publication date: January 29, 2019
IndieBound, Amazon, Powells
When their parents die Liz, Marty, and Jules are still children so, because there is no one to care for them, they are sent to the same boarding school, but must live in different dorms. The loss and splitting apart of his family creates a fracture in Jules that never heals.
Benedict Wells explores the nature of psychic trauma in all three of the Moreau siblings in his new novel The End of Loneliness. Spanning the length of their lives with glimpses into the past and all its weight, this novel is a beautifully written, melancholic look at holding on to the past. I appreciated much of the story, but ultimately Jules’s inability to live in the present and accept happiness for so much of the novel was enervating and dragged me down. You need to be in the right place emotionally for this one.
Great Reading from Previous Years
Forty Rooms– one of my all-time favorite novels about the experience of being a woman
Be Frank With Me– a charming and bittersweet novel about a famous reclusive author and her eccentric little boy
Of Things Gone Astray– I don’t read a lot of short stories, but these kept me enthralled (plus love the title!)
The Jaguar’s Children– an intense and chilling novel about a group of desperate people trying to get across the border from Mexico. More timely than ever and impossible to put down.
How was your February reading? Any books I need to add to my TBR?