Monday, March 9, 2020

Books I Read in February

Hi Guys! Clearly, I'm not getting as much time to write this semester as I wanted (having a two prep semester is killing me, well, that and the fact that my kids keep getting sick), but this week I'm on Spring Break!!! We're going on a mini road-trip later this week, but I'm hoping to sneak in some writing time before we leave. We'll see, I also need to catch up on laundry and housework and all the other things, so this may be the only post that actually gets posted. But still, happy Spring Break!

February was a fairly decent month for reading (especially for being a day or two shorter than the other months), and I'm excited to talk about some of these titles, so let's jump in!

Royal Assassin by Robin Hobb

I started this trilogy in January, and continued on with this second book in the series at the start of February. It did not disappoint.

Assassin's Quest by Robin Hobb

I immediately continued on to the third book, and this one was long. Way too long in my opinion (757 pages, according to Goodreads). I think many parts of this should've been cut, but regardless, I stuck with it and found it a mostly satisfying conclusion. I still highly recommend the series to all fans of high fantasy (I'm going to make my husband read it once he finishes Wheel of Time, because I know he'll love it).

Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

This was my seasonal read. I was looking for something light and fun to get me in the mood for Valentine's Day, and this delivered. Sweet and cute, a little unique high school romance (the girl decides to go out for the football team), but I wasn't invested enough to keep going with the series.

The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk

This book was so good, and so fascinating, but is by no means an easy read, as it is mostly about childhood trauma, and there are definitely a few really disturbing stories of incest and abuse. Van der Kolk is a therapist who started off working with veterans when PTSD was just beginning to be recognized as a thing, and then he moved to a civilian clinic and started noticing the same symptoms in his patients who had suffered abuse as children. While I could never be a therapist, I am super fascinated by how the brain works and how mental illness works, and the more and more I learn about trauma (and about how almost all of us suffer from trauma to varying degrees) the more convinced I am that this is one of the most important things we as a society can work on to fix many of our biggest social problems. Van der Kolk's work is very hopeful, and he discusses a range of therapies from Prozac to the more woo-woo (yoga, theater, and some other kind of out there stuff). This is not an easy book to read (hello, it discusses really awful child abuse), but it is definitely one I recommend.

Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane

This was a serendipitously perfect book to follow The Body Keeps the Score, because it is a book about generational trauma, and it seemed fairly accurate to see how these characters responded to abuse and neglect. This makes it sound like a super depressing book, and yes, it is difficult, but I think it ends in a rather hopeful place. It was beautifully written, and is probably a general recommend.

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

(Side note, look at the cover of these two very different books... strangely similar, no?) Oh man, I have such conflicted feelings about this one. On one hand, I found it tackled really complex race issues (and issues of inter-racial nanny/employee stuff that I've had to deal with myself), and I think it would make a fantastic book club book. On the other hand, it was also kind of fluffy, and had a lot of swearing, and I don't know that I loved it. It gave me stuff to think about, that's for sure.

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

This was my second Patchett novel (I read The Dutch House back in December), and my favorite so far, but the pattern seems to be that I'm incredibly in love with her writing at the sentence level, but don't "get" the point of her stories. Is there a point? All I know is that I need to read more of her words, because I just love being in the middle of her stories. The ends leave me a little empty and confused, though. This one had a really interesting story that jumped back and forth in time and it was like piecing together a giant puzzle, but in the end some of the pieces still seemed to be missing... but I still liked it? But what was the "point" of the story? I don't know... Still a general recommend!

Lovely War by Julie Berry

Okay, I'd read some super rave reviews of this one before I picked it up, so I went in with sky high expectations, and then felt like it didn't "quite" live up to what I was expecting. It was like just another (really good) war story romance (which I've already read a million of). But the more and more I think about it, and the more and more I consider the genius of the framing element (Greek gods in a New York hotel room, totally weird for some people, but trust me, it's genius), the more and more I like it. I think I'm going to want to re-read this one some day. It's YA, but it's fantastic. Highly, highly recommend (and pro-tip, listen to the audio book, music plays a big role in the story and the audio does a great job with that).

So there we go, eight books. A pretty good month, with some rather good books. Have you read any of these? What were your thoughts?


  1. I feel the same way about Lovely War. I liked it but wasn't sure that I loved it, but it has stayed with me. I didn't like the WWI characters as much as I've liked characters in similar books, but I loved the gods.

    Such a Fun Age would totally be a great book club pick. It made me uncomfortable, because I identified with Alix in several ways, but through Emira's eyes I can also see how ridiculous she is. It also made me uncomfortable because I felt like the author really invited the reader to judge the characters.

    I swore off Ann Patchett after reading State of Wonder and Bel Canto. That woman can't write endings! I did end up reading The Dutch House, and while I liked it best out of the three I've read, I totally see what you're saying about asking what the point of the book is. State of Wonder and Bel Canto have more traditional story arcs, but like I said, the endings of both books totally ruin the stories.

    1. Yes and yes and yes! The Greek gods made Lovely War stand out in an otherwise oversaturated genre. And yes, exactly how you describe Such a Fun Age. It made me uncomfortable for many different reasons, and I can't decide if it was in a good way or a manipulative way. Not a favorite book, but definitely one worth discussing. And good to know about Patchett's other books. I fully intend to read other titles by her, I'll just keep expecting unfulfilling endings.

  2. Lovely War is on my list, but it's good to know that I should maybe temper my expectations. I only added it because of the glowing reviews (I've became weary of all the war books), but maybe I'll still give it a shot.

    I've read enough Patchett now too to go in with tempered expectations---I expect great writing and a FEELING when I read her, more than I expect a certain kind of storyline. I think she'd be fabulous at writing a collection of essays.

  3. Yes, I definitely think you should still read Lovely War, it is entirely worth it. Just yeah, it's not quite as mind blowing as some reviews make it seem like. And yes, Patchett, such lovely writing in the middle. I bet she would be good at essays (does she have a collection?)...