So arguably in order to be a Book Blogger, as obviously is my aspiration, you need to blog more than once a month. I unfortunately have not reached those lofty heights lately, so instead here is a round-up of the books I read in February. Some I loved and others I was decidedly ‘meh’ about. Here we go!
BRING ME BACK by BA Paris – Last month I read The Breakdown, which I didn’t enjoy as much as Behind Closed Doors, and again I didn’t enjoy Bring Me Back as much as either. The plot felt a little laboured and the writing was clunky and the characterisation was too light, and I was essentially just reading to find out what the twist at the end was. I think that both Bring Me Back and The Breakdown were both examples of a writer with a good first book being pushed to produce a second and third book too quickly. This could have been better. Disappointing. (PS: This book was a proof from work.)
SURPRISE ME by Sophie Kinsella – So I love Sophie Kinsella’s standalone novels and this one was not a disappointment. I feel as though her heroines are growing up, which I really appreciate, and although this heroine, Sylvie, is as always a little too dense in order to let the plot work its magic, this was an extremely charming book and I liked the way that the plot came together. Fluffy with some moments of sincere emotion – a great thing to read in the February gloom. (This book was kindly sent to me at work.)
THE EXACT OPPOSITE OF OKAY – So, this book was odd. It wasn’t bad, for many reasons: the friendship between Izzy and Ajita was lovely and well-written, it was funny (although not as funny as advertised), it was feminist af. But for SOME REASON it was set in an American high school despite the fact that it was written in an incredibly British voice. This was more British than almost all the novels set in British schools that I’ve read. It was so, so effing British that it confused me and threw me off a few times. Why did that happen?! Why wasn’t it just set in the UK? Puzzling. But I enjoyed it a lot. (This book was a proof from work.)
WE ARE THE ANTS – For some reason I ended up reading a lot of lgbtq YA this month and this was one of my favourites. I loved the alien story that was interwoven into it and I thought that generally the characterisation was great. It was witty and intelligent and entirely enjoyable – and actually, I think the fact that I liked it so much was the reason I read the other YA books this month. CHASING THAT HIGH and on one occasion I totally exceeded it.
THE GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO VICE AND VIRTUE – I was expecting this book to be a lot better than I actually thought it was. The characterisation was weak and tbh so was the plot. It was amusing and good on race but otherwise I didn’t really have an emotional connection to any of the characters. I’m not big on historical romance so maybe there was a lot of cute tropey stuff that I missed, but in general it left me pretty cold and felt like a slog. Disappointing, because I was expecting to love it.
THE HEART’S INVISIBLE FURIES – Now. THIS book, I loved. The story of Cyril Avery, his growing up, his adulthood, his loves, his losses. It was absolutely beautiful and made me cry on numerous occasions. Cyril is a perfect example of an intensely flawed narrator who you are entirely interested in anyway. All the characters were beautifully drawn – I loved Charles and Maude especially, and sweet Bastiaan, and Alice, and Catherine, although there was nobody in it who didn’t ring true. I thought this was a truly beautiful book. I don’t think a novel has made me so emotional since I read Tin Man last year – this will definitely be in my top five at the end of the year.
BEFORE THE FALL – This was our book club novel this week and I’m excited about finding out what my pals thought of it. Personally, I liked it, although I didn’t love it. Scott was a good character and JJ was sweet, although in all I wasn’t emotionally hooked. The ending wasn’t entirely satisfying, but the writing was good enough to make it an enjoyable read anyway. (This book was a proof at work.)
AUTOBOYOGRAPHY – This is the book that was just as good as We Are The Ants – and possibly even better. These characters were just wonderful – I found myself deeply caring about them. It was sweet and realistic and I thought the way that the authors wrote about religion and its restrictions was sad and beautiful. The whole way through, I intensely enjoyed this book and looked forward to getting back to it. A really wonderful YA novel.
A LIST OF CAGES – This was well-written and Adam was a super engaging character, but there was something that was too heavy about it. Obviously the plot – child abuse! – was dark and terrible but there was something that was almost not enjoyable about reading it. Obviously reading about abuse was never going to be a laugh a minute, but it feels important to like reading a book and I’m not sure that I liked this one – it was well written but sometimes felt bogged down. Adam’s character definitely provided some levity, and I thought that the kindness in this book was much needed.
THIS IS HOW IT ENDS – Not a bad book, but a disappointing one. Another one that I thought I was going to like more than I actually did. The two timelines confused me a little (this is umm probably my own issue) and I felt as though the twist at the end kind of came out of nowhere. It just sort of landed and I felt as though there perhaps weren’t enough clues beforehand. However, I liked the setting a lot – I haven’t really read any fiction about activists before and it’s a really interesting and current subject. Molly was also very engaging and so was Callum. (This book was kindly sent to me at work.)
OPENLY STRAIGHT – Reading too much Enid Blyton as a child definitely made me an absolute sucker for boarding school stories, so naturally I really enjoyed this one. It was a super easy read and I don’t know if it was exactly super deep but I also don’t think that it needed to be. Rafe was a great character to live with for three hundred pages and the central romantic relationship was pretty secondary to his other friendships and his selfhood, which I enjoyed a lot. I truly enjoyed this book – it made me smile a lot.
SO. Very excited about March’s reading – I started The Haunting Of Henry Twist last night and also want to read some non fiction – maybe the Tara Westover one because I have read SUCH good things about it. I kind of want to reread Eleanor Oliphant (I am SO pleased it’s doing so well) and I’m also planning to read Sara Bernard’s next book. I also think that I may attempt to do individual reviews, along with a post at the end of the month containing all the books that I’ve bought. EXCITING. HERE WE GO.