I have talked about The Storygraph in the past, but the website keeps getting better and better! They have now included more monthly stats, so I thought it would be fun to start sharing those in my wrap ups. Let me know what you think!
I thought that with February being the month of Valentine’s Day that I would have read more lighthearted books, but apparently I was more in the mood for books that were reflective, emotional, and hopeful.
I read a lot of medium-paced books this month, which is typical!
I am happy that I was able to sneak in one 500+ page book, which goes towards my goal of reading at least 12 big books this year!
Another one of my goals is to read more nonfiction, so reading two this month is great!
I read from a great mix of genres this month! It is interesting to meet that “sports” is considered a genre.
I had such a fantastic reading month in terms of rating! My lowest rating was 3.25 and I had three 5 star reads!
There is so much going on in Ties That Tether that it feels like the romance is secondary to Azere finding her voice and trying to preserve her culture while embracing what truly makes her happy. It is certainly a journey, and there were moments where I questioned her decisions, but I have never been in her position and I cannot imagine the pressure that she feels. This is a book that I read in one sitting and I think would make for a great movie. Jane Igharo has a new book called The Sweetest Remedy coming out later this year that I am really excited for.
A Most Beautiful Thing is a compelling narrative nonfiction about Arshay Cooper’s time on his high school rowing team and everything that he learned and gained from that experience. It really highlights the power of community and what being on a team can do for a person. I have mixed feelings about how the story was told- it almost felt like I was reading a YA novel instead of a memoir, but I enjoyed it all the same. I also watched the documentary by the same name, which was excellent and I highly recommend even if you don’t intend on picking up the book.
Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet by Laekan Zea Kemp is YA contemporary romance, but, once again, I felt as though the romance was secondary to both of the protagonists’ growth. I appreciate that we got both of their perspectives and that much of the conflict in the story happened outside of their relationship with one another. It is also fantastic on audio! I have a feeling that many readers are going to love this book and deeply connect with it, so look out for it when it comes out on April 6th!
Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour is a book that is difficult to explain or to even understand my own feelings about it. This book is definitely satire, and while a lot of it may seem over the top, I don’t think it was that farfetched. You may read this and question why Darren sticks it out, but I think that he sees working for Sumwon as his chance of living the American Dream, which in itself is a flawed concept. I can see how he would get caught up in that idea and the feeling of being special that he would ignore the blatant racism and tokenism that is thrown his way. I thought that the first half was stronger than the second and I have mixed feelings about the ending, but I highly recommend watching some interviews with the author once you finish reading the book if you want more insight!
Alright, I get the hype around The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune. This book is everything everyone says it is- it is charming, a warm hug, a ray of sunshine, and it is also surprisingly funny. It has been a long time since I finished a book and just wanted to hug it, but I did for this one. I was completely swept up in it and I am thrilled that we are getting a new book from TJ Klune this year that seems to have a similar vibe- it is called Under the Whispering Door.
I have such mixed feelings about The Push by Ashley Audrain. I ended up giving it four stars on Goodreads, but I debated between a four star and a three star for a long time. I ultimately decided that a book that left me so conflicted and had me thinking about it for days afterwards deserved an extra star. In some ways, I felt like The Push was a story I read before, but the way that it was told made it unique. The story is written as though Blythe, the narrator, is writing or talking to her ex-husband, so it is written in second person. That just added another later of realism the story and made me feel that much more invested. Here is a quote so you get an idea of what I mean:
You used to care about me as a person—my happiness, the things that made me thrive. Now I was a service provider. You didn’t see me as a woman. I was just the mother of your child.
Ashley Audrain’s writing is what stood out to me most, and it is hard to believe that this is her debut. I cannot wait to see what she writes next!
I am so happy that I finally read You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson- it was so sweet and I absolutely loved the romance and friendships in this. There was a moment towards the end that was the sweetest moment- I actually had tears of joy! That is not to say that there are not some more difficult moments in this book. Liz lost her mother to Sickle cell anemia and her brother also suffers from the same disease. Liz is also queer in a more conservative town and she feels like she can’t freely be herself. I loved seeing her open up and most of the people around her supporting her. It felt like a more modern She’s All That or Pretty in Pink. This needs to me made into a movie ASAP!
The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles is an interesting WWII historical fiction novel centering around Odile, who was a librarian at that time. This is a perspective of WWII I had never read from before and I had never thought of the role of librarians during this time period. I actually learned a lot and, even though Odile was naïve at times, I really related to her and appreciated reading from her perspective. We also get chapters following different characters here and there, and there is another timeline in the 80s that follows a teenage girl named Lucy who is actually Odile’s neighbour in America. It was interesting to see how secrets were revealed in both timelines. If you are someone, like me, who has been overwhelmed by WWII fiction and wants to get back into it, I highly recommend this one.
I have tried to read many fae stories in the past but they have never worked for me until A Dark and Hollow Star by Ashley Shuttleworth. Everything about this book is incredible, from the worldbuilding, to the magic system, to the characters. What really stood out to me was the relationships between each of the characters. There are great friendships, hints at romantic relationships, and families in here. I loved every single perspective! This is the first book in the series, so there was a lot of set up and I loved every single second. I cannot believe I have to wait until 2022 for the next book. Also, the set that most of the book is set in Toronto was a nice bonus. It blows my mind that this is Ashley Shuttleworth’s debut!
I have had Disability Visibility on my shelves for awhile now, but it was Autumn from theliteraryheroine on bookstagram whose review pushed me to pick it up. This is an incredible collection from a wide variety of voices. The collection includes everything from articles, essays, eulogies, blog posts, etc, and I found myself reading one and then taking a good amount of time to reflect on it. It has been such a lot time since I took so much away from a book. I highly encourage you to check out Autumn’s post for an own voices perspective.