February Books Recap

February has been a crazy busy (in a good way) month of reading for me! Ironic considering its such a short month to begin with! Not only did I read a lot of books but I read a lot of GREAT books!

My February book count is ten. Each month I will recap the books I’ve read and my quick review of them.

Below is the straightforward rating system I use:

✰✰✰✰✰Loved it & had a profound impact on me!
✰✰✰✰Loved it!
✰✰✰Liked it!
✰✰Disliked it!
Hated it!

by Yaa Gyasi

Rating: 5 out of 5.

It is hard to believe that this was Yaa Gyasi’s debut novel! Absolutely breathtaking from start to finish! How she articulates 300 years of history so intricately in 300 pages is a mastery. The story was devastating as it was beautiful. Though this is a work of fiction, it was an eye-opening novel about the history of African slavery, especially from Ghana, and the flip-side of how life for those remaining in Ghana was also dramatically changed due to the Western influence. 

There are parts of this book that was difficult to get through because of its rawness. From start to finish, you, as the reader, are invested in every character and their individual stories. There are beautiful proses in the book. Despite the transition from the 18th century until the present day, the striking similarities in the undertones of the characters’ lives really sit with you long after you close the book.

One of the most helpful parts of the book was the family tree at the beginning! We found ourselves referring back to that many times throughout the chapters. It would have been impossible to keep all the characters and their lineage straight otherwise.

This was the February @spiritednavigators book club pick & it was an excellent choice!

You can learn anything when you have to learn it. You could learn to fly if it meant you would live another day.

page 37

Weakness is treating someone as though they belong to you. Strength is knowing that everyone belongs to themselves.

page 38

The Four Winds
by Kristin Hannah

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I don’t like stories about women who go through marriage and motherhood and that more or less is their defining factors or backdrop of their storyline, predominantly I find them boring and the same ol same ol.

The Four Winds felt gripping from the start. And though it was a journey about a girl, a woman, and her role as a daughter, wife, and ultimately mother; I think the fact the book was an arc of her entire life and not just that of her as a mother made this story so incredibly gripping, relatable even though I could have nothing in common with a White, Christian, Wealthy Girl from Texas from the 1920s. Yet, her struggle, her decisions, her weakness, strength, sacrifice, braveness, and all that she endures from prejudice, racism, bigotry, sexism, and everything in between was incredibly touching, real. This book was a work of fiction but I imagine a great deal of nonfiction went something similar to this back in the era of The Great Depression. 

Be brave. Or pretend to be. It’s all the same.

page 197

Courage is fear you ignore.

page 403

Fear is smart until you realize you’re afraid of the wrong thing.

page 333

She worked like a dog to support us, doing whatever she had to do, but each night, at bedtime, she kissed me good night and told me I could be anything in America. It was the dream that had brought her here and she passed it on to me. But, it was a lie. For people like us, anyway. Folks who are from the wrong place, or have the wrong color skin, or speak the wrong language, or pray to the wrong God. She died in a factory fire. All of the doors were locked to keep the workers from taking cigarette breaks. This country used her up and spit her out and all she ever wanted was for me to have opportunities. A better like that she’d had.”

page 334

Elsa did the math obsessively in her head. So far, she and Loreda would have to pick three thousand pounds of cotton and pay their debt. But she still had to pay rent and buy food. It was a violent, vicious cycle that would start all over again when winter came. There was no way to get head, no way to get out.

page 348

But with guns? It wasn’t as if they could shoot people for striking. This was America.

page 388

84 Charing Cross Road
by Helene Hanff

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I found out about this book because of a podcast episode of “What Should I Read Next” hosted by Anne Bogel.

I didn’t know it yet, but I would absolutely fall in love with epistolary novels — a term I hadn’t even heard of until I finished this book.

I love letters — I loved writing them through my high school years to my friends I have left behind when I moved across the country and from then on, I have always had a soft spot for the art of letter writing. There is something so incredibly intimate in them.

At 97 pages, this was very clearly one of my shortest and quickest read, ever! But oh, the pages! Letters spanning 20 years between an American Writer & a British Bookseller who never meet but have a most beautiful relationship shared over of their love of books. Beginning in 1949, with the post-WWII effects still very much lingering, the letters show us so much more than just the contents that are written. They take us back through history (really as a backdrop) & leave us feeling warm, happy, laughing, & even heartbroken. 

I found myself often going back to the first page to check the date of the first letter. 

Tip: Pay attention to the dates of each letter — all of them. 

If you love reading, this is really a book you shouldn’t miss. I loved it oh so much! 

It’s an absolute masterpiece and I gave it a well deserving 5-stars!

If you happen to pass by 84 Charing Cross Road, kiss it for me? I owe it so much.

It’s against my principles to buy a book I haven’t read, it’s like buying a dress you haven’t tried on.

No One is Too Small To Make a Difference
by Greta Thunberg

Rating: 5 out of 5.

It’s harrowing to read the speeches of a then 15-year old girl who began a journey (all on her own) to stand up for something she strongly felt was not being treated as a crisis that it was (& continues to be): climate change. 

I found her speeches to be so straightforward and just stating the facts. It’s quite remarkable that we as human beings have entirely missed the mark on doing something about an issue that affects our very existence! 

Being very much aware and a believer of climate change, I found her statements to validate further that we really are just sitting on the sidelines. It’s astonishing to me that people exist out there who actually DENY science and FACTS! 

I don’t have children, don’t plan on it, and somewhere inside me, there is a bit of relief to know I won’t be leaving any of my offsprings into this world that is fated to its doom. I don’t for a second believe those in power will do what is needed to bring down the greenhouse emission to a rate that can change the projection of our inevitable doom. But I have siblings and friends who have or will have children, and for them, I feel a deep sense of pity. Because they are destined to fail, we as a society have all but made sure of that. 

I recommend picking up this short but pointed book. 

We are about to sacrifice our biosphere so that rich people in countries like mine can live in luxury. But it is the sufferings of the many which pay for the luxuries of the few.

page 13

But only setting up these vague distant dates, and saying things which give the impression that things are being done and that action is underway will most likely do more harm than good. Because the changes required are still nowhere in sight. Not in France, not in the EU. Nowhere.

page 83

A Good Marriage
by Kimberly McCreight

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A Murder mystery with a marriage backdrop felt like the right pick for our literary society (thewanderingbookworms)’s February bookclub 💔 

Fast-paced, Ambiguous characters, lots of “whodunnit” possibilities. And for most of the book, you take turns in your head thinking you know who did it or completely lost as to who could’ve done it! 

But when you finally get to who did it (won’t spoil it for anyone) — it was just a sense of “wait…what? why? huh?” It felt almost chaotic. 🧐 

Although the ending didn’t live up to its build-up, it kept me guessing and that was good enough for me to keep the excitement up in the book. For this reason, it stuck to a 4 star as opposed to 3.

I recommend this book to anyone who loves fast-paced thrillers. You may or may not be happy with the ending, but it’ll be a fun and quick ride either way. 

I’d been so foolish to think love could change the essential nature of anything. 

Pretty bows on a pile of sh$t only make it harder to flush.

Forgiveness is a side effect of love…

The Sanatorium
by Sarah Pearse

Rating: 4 out of 5.

From the first page, this book is creepy, and I LOVED the atmosphere it brings to life. I can feel myself in the Swiss Alps, inside the sanatorium turned minimalist hotel. 

It started with a 4-star feel for me. 

The more I read the book, the more I found myself clinging to the feeling of “what’s next?!” It was all well and good until the reveal – which seems to be a constant disappointment factor for me these days with thrillers. I was just not satisfied with not so much “who” but more with the “why.” The main protagonist is a bit annoying, but I find that happening a lot with females in Murder mysteries in contemporary fiction. 🤷🏽‍♀️

This was when I struggled with giving it a 3-star instead. 

Then the epilogue took place, and I felt myself bumping it back up to the 4-star rating. 

The book is atmospheric, and I thoroughly enjoyed that about it! I didn’t care for the ending per se, but I liked how the book revealed itself overall and with the epilogue being the extra push to keep it where it stands now in my rating. 

If you’ve read it, I’d love to discuss it! I have questions. 😂 

Anger is often unpredictable, a barrier to keeping things in check. 

Il faut bonne mémoire après qu’on a menti’

A liar should have a good memory.

The ego always wins. It’s a weakness in everyone, the desire to know the most, be the hero, the one to save the day.

The Bookshop on the Corner
by Jenny Colgan

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

This book is everything the bookshop owner wanting to live in the European countryside in me wants! I was so wrapped up in the atmospheric parts of this book. I love the Scottish highlands, and I loved the numerous books mentioned in this book that just made my TBR list grow longer. 

It’s not a profound life-changing kind of book, but a good book doesn’t need to be that. A good book just has to come at the right time at the right place for you. And this was very much that for me!

I’ve already requested books number 2 & 3 of the series at my local library. 

Side note: This book is titled “The Little Bookshop of Happily Ever After” in the UK; just be aware if you end up seeing both titles and want to read them; they are the same book.

Just do something. You might make a mistake, then you can fix it. But if you do nothing, you can’t fix anything. And your life might turn out full of regrets.

I am of the old-fashioned conviction that reading is a pleasure to be carefully guarded at all times” 

The problem with good things that happen is that very often they disguise themselves as awful things.

She stared at the train again as a great screeching noise filled the air, and was struck by the oddest, most ridiculous thought: how embarrassed her mother would be having to tell people that her university-educated daughter had done something as stupid as getting herself trapped on a train crossing and being killed by a train.

The Rosie Project
by Graeme Simsion

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

This book had me laughing out loud two minutes into it. It was recommended by a friend to read it as an audiobook, and I’m so glad I did! The narration by Dan O’Grady is sheer perfection! 

I will say that once Rosie entered the picture, I found her INCREDIBLY annoying – which had me concerned since the book is titled about this character. I was waiting for a moment where maybe she would just disappear from the book 😂. Although that obviously didn’t happen, and I didn’t like her any more or less as the book progressed, I was so taken by the main character, Don, from beginning to end that I thoroughly enjoyed the book as a whole. 

Thanks to my friend, Katie for the recommendation!

Restaurants are minefields for the socially inept.

How can you tell if someone is a vegan? Just wait ten minutes and they’ll tell you.

Why do we focus on certain things at the expense of others? We will risk our lives to save a person from drowning, yet not make a donation that could save dozens of children from starvation.

The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living
by Louise Miller

Rating: 3 out of 5.

This is a great book to pick up if you want to get lost in the fall/winter of Vermont life, where everything holiday is truly magical and very much captured in the book. If you’re a foodie, that’s a bonus treat! 

There were a few sweet, “pause” quotes in the book I enjoyed. They’re not out of the ordinary quotes, but they are the type of things we forget about living the busy day-to-day life that we do. 

With all that being said, it’s not a 4-star because as soon as she gets pregnant, my interest checked out of the book and I didn’t love it. It was enjoyable, a nice break after the heavy read I just had. 

It’s not what happens to you, but how you respond to it that matters.

page 307

…but many people before you have weathered more embarrassment than a broken heart.

page 290

The Forty Rules of Love
by Elif Shafak

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Some books come to you when you’re not ready for it, and others come to you precisely at the perfect time in your life, even if you think you’re not prepared for it. 

I picked this book up bc of @jayshettygenius book club pick for February. I wasn’t sure what to expect but to believe that it would at the least be a good book. 

The story travels between real and reel (novel). The former is about a recently turned 40-year-old women’s struggle with her loveless marriage and lackluster life, and the latter is a manuscript she’s reviewing. It’s all about the well-known Sufi poet Rumi. 

It is so beautifully written, and I was so impressed with how the story of Islamic religion and Sufism was articulated in this book. As a 39-year old and Muslim, I was so touched and enlightened at the same time at the unfolding of the novel’s events. The 40 rules of love are revealed poetically and cleverly throughout the book. 

A star from beginning to end. 

If the whole world were swallowed by the sea, what would it matter to a duck?

page 225

Little did I know that I was making the most common and the most painful mistake women have made all throughout the ages: to naively think that with their love they can change the men they love.

page 297

“Each and every reader comprehends the Qur’an on a different level in tandem with the depth of his understanding. There are 4 levels of insight. The first level is the outer meaning and it is the one that the majority of people are content with. Next is the Batum- the inner level. Third there is the inner of the inner. And the fourth level is so deep it cannot be put into words and is therefore bound to be indescribable. Scholars who focus on the Sharia know the outer meaning. Sufis know the inner meaning. Saints know the inner of the inner. The fourth level is known by prophets and those closest to God. So don’t judge the way other people connect to God. To each his own way and his own prayer. God does not take us at our word but looks deep into our hearts. It is not the ceremonies or rituals that make a difference, but whether our hearts are sufficiently pure or not.” 

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Current book count: 17

Looking forward to reading more 4 & maybe even 5 star books in March, fingers crossed!

Happy Reading!

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