February kept me on my toes from beginning to end, making it hard to get much reading done. However I was able to finish four books, with my ratings ranging from 1.5-4 stars. The genres I read from were equally varied, knocking two (very different) thrillers off my TBR, as well as a memoir and historical fiction read. I can also now say I’ve found my current favorite of the year, a feat that only took me two months. If you’re looking for some great reads to add to your TBR (or maybe take off) this is the place to be. So without further ado…let’s cut to the books!
The Good Girl by Mary Kubica– 1.5 stars
A very fast paced and entertaining read, but one that left me going WTH too often to be a satisfying thriller. Though I appreciated Kubica’s easy to fly through writing (which is especially impressive considering how little actually happens in the story), my list of likes ends there. All four main characters are very expected, very stereotypical and don’t add a lot of depth to the story; making it hard to sympathize or relate to them. As far as the actual mystery is concerned, I would say there’s two “twists” Kubica plays off of; one of which is a “duh” that’s easy to spot from the get go, the other comes pretty much out of left field. I definitely didn’t see it coming, but I don’t really think Kubica laid the proper groundwork for it to make sense in the story she’d been telling. If you’ve read this one let me know what you thought of the epilogue, it really was a make or break moment for the story in my opinion with a pretty split consensus.
Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham– 3 stars
Dreamland Burning is one of those books I thought I liked more immediately after finishing it. This is largely thanks to the characters (who I fell hard for right from the get go), and my sheer love for historical fiction. But as I sat down to write my review for it I realized just how many holes there were in the story, as well as how much more meaningful Latham’s tale could have been. It still comes highly recommended from me, as a first introduction to the genre if nothing else, and I nevertheless think lots of readers will enjoy the mystery elements tied into the past and present storylines. My biggest gripe was the ending, which I felt wrapped up far too quickly and didn’t allow for some of the more important themes about race relations to come as full circle as I would have liked. I’m also hesitant to say this, but to me William’s character wound up resembling more of a “white savior” type cliche than anything else, dragging all the supporting cast in his chapters down with him. An important history lesson that ultimately lacked depth.
Beautiful Broken Girls by Kim Savage– 3.5 stars
Definitely one of the hardest books I’ve had to rate in a long time, Beautiful Broken Girls bucks a lot of the trends and tropes I’ve come to expect from thrillers recently- but suffers from other pitfalls along the way. It’s very fast paced (I read it in two days), so not a major time commitment to check out, and I think fans of The Virgin Suicides will appreciate it more than I did. Both of these things bode well for its overall bookworm consensus, it just didn’t work for me when everything was said and done. This is especially unfortunate when you consider how much I loved the first half, with its interesting look at modern sainthood and ties to Catholicism. I was just left with too many questions (questions I was extremely interested in) to just accept the way Savage finished off the story. As I mentioned in my review, I think this is a story where people who liked the beginning less will give it a higher rating.
Elena Vanishing by Elena and Clare B. Dunkle– 4 stars
My favorite book of 2017 so far, Elena Vanishing is also the best memoir I’ve ever read. Readers will be able to tell it was written by Elena’s mother, an award winning children’s novelist, as opposed to a ghost writer; a small detail that made all the difference for me. It’s a very raw, very gritty look at mental illness and anorexia, one that never romanticizes the disease but instead chronicles a painful- yet ultimately hopeful- journey towards recovery. Elena’s feelings and perspective of events really shine through, amping the emotional stakes I felt for her over the decades long battle she fought. But more than anything what I most took away from this story is a newfound understanding of the mindset of someone suffering from an eating disorder. Though I’ve read numerous fictional accounts from this viewpoint, none have ever shown me just how difficult it is to break free from the captor that is anorexia. Powerful, moving, and a must read for everyone!
What did you read in February? Have you checked out any of these books? Let me know in the comments!