It might have been the shortest month of the year, but we weren’t short on good books here at Literary Quicksand!
I’m in the middle of a LONG book I was ecstatic to be approved for on NetGalley – Abraham Verghese’s upcoming release, The Covenant of Water. I’ve taken multiple breaks to listen to a few audiobooks, which are below on my list. Is for the super long Verghese book, a review is coming! If I ever finish the book, that is.
What did you read in February? Any stand-outs? Here’s our list.
The Rose Code by Kate Quinn
I finally, FINALLY read The Rose Code by Kate Quinn. My reading has been shamefully neglected and it felt so good to be immersed in the pages of a novel again!
Kate Quinn is easily one of my favorite authors, and while I admit it took me a bit longer than usual to get sucked in, by the end, I found myself racing ahead and having to go back and reread paragraphs because I was too excited to find out what happened next!
Fellow WWII era historical fiction lovers…this is a fantastic story with fully developed characters and it opened my eyes to a world at Bletchley Park that I had only the faintest idea existed. Well worth the read!
Hi guys!! I had an exciting LQ reading month, but I can’t talk about it too much because I’m writing special reviews about 2/3 of them! Stay tuned for posted reviews on Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin and upcoming Scent of a Garden by Namrata Patel (scheduled for release in June 2023).
The Winter Palace by Eva Stachniak
A very dear friend of mine lent me 2 books by Eva Stachniak, the first of which I finished in February. The Winter Palace is a historic fiction work, which sets itself amongst palace drama in Russia during the reign of Empress Elizabeth Petrovna (1741-1762) and follows the rise of Catherine the Great via the perspective of a young servant who acts as a palace spy to the queen. I liked this one, and will be moving on to the Empress of the Night next month.
Kafka in Tangier by Mohammed Said Hjiouij, translated by Phoebe Bay Carter
This is a reinterpretation of Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis. I read Kafka’s story at university and it stuck with me because of how strange it was. And this reimagining is just as strange. The author has created a parallel Morocco for this story and provides a lot of detail about life in Morocco which has been interesting to read. I also like the narrator – they talk to the reader in an informal, friendly way. So it feels like you’re being let in on a secret. I’d give this one 3.5 out of 5 stars.
Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
I’m really into books about libraries and bookshops at the moment. So Strange the Dreamer has been on my list for ages. I’m listening to the audiobook and loving the story. Laini Taylor’s writing is fantastic – the perfect balance of description and dialogue that gives you the details you want but keeps the story going so it always feels dynamic. This one is 4 out of 5 stars for me.
Bomb Shelter: Love, Time, and Other Explosives by Mary Laura Philpott
I’ve finally found a way to fit audiobooks into my life, and I really don’t know why I couldn’t figure it out before 😆. I got myself a roll-up puzzle mat, so I can do puzzles while listening to audiobooks. It’s perfect! I’ve also discovered my favorite type of book to listen to while puzzling – memoir, in particular those read by the author. Bomb Shelter fit that bill perfectly and was SO good!
Philpott and I would get along well together. She’s anxious in some of the same ways I am 😆. She really has some of the most wonderful insights into what it’s like to be a parent and so much more. This author is an essay queen and so good at getting to the heart of things that really matter in life, both in this book and in I Miss You When I Blink. This is on my list of books I’ve read and don’t own but need to buy!
Seven Days in June by Tia Williams
February is always romance month for book club, which means…it’s not my favorite month. Haha I just can’t quite get into the romance genre! I will say that this one had some realness to it that helped up my enjoyment of it a bit. It was different in that the main character has a chronic illness (migraines) and a very cool daughter. I also liked that the couple didn’t just get together and it was happily ever after – there was a storyline that had them splitting up and getting back together in a more believable way.
Bittersweet: How Sorrow and Longing Make Us Whole by Susan Cain
This is such a beautiful book. I listened to Bittersweet on audio, read by the author herself, and had to purchase a hard copy for my shelves. I have so many passages to highlight 😍. If you’ve ever had something big happen to you that made you see and appreciate the bittersweetness of life, you will absolutely love this book. If you haven’t? Well, I think you’ll like it then, too, because it’ll help you see the world that way.
I will say that I liked the first part of the book better, when it was more storytelling than research, but the research part really was great too. Cain takes the reader along on all of her research about bittersweetness and how it works in our lives, and it was just beautiful. Highly recommend this one.
She is a Haunting by Trang Tranh Tran
I have a full review on LQ of this book that I was sent for review, which you can see here. To sum it up: this is excellent, YA horror that goes beyond tropes to tackle themes of colonialism, family, and identity. Highly recommended to high school libraries and those who enjoy haunted houses and infestation themes in their horror books.
I Didn’t Do It by Jaime Lynn Hendricks
This thriller set at a writer’s conference (aka Murerpalooza) is told through alternating perspectives across the course of a day. After learning that their fellow writer, Kristin, has been murdered in the conference hotel, fellow writers and attendees Mike, Suzanne, Vicky, and Davis all find themselves being followed by a murderous Twitter account that implies one of them is next. With secrets to hide, the back stories of the four characters are unspoiled as this real-life murder case invades the conference.
What I liked:
- Multiple points of view done well. The voice of each character added to the story and kept the pace moving. I appreciated how the author was able to shift the tone of each character throughout the book, as their manipulations became more clear.
- Commentary on social media/Twitter and how incorrect information is spread.
- Tongue-in-cheek commentary about the world of publishing and how writers and readers judge books (and each other)
The only parts that didn’t quite work for me were the occasionally overdone commentary on writing, the balance of character development (I would have liked to hear more about Vicky and Kristin, especially how Kristin came to be a well-regarded thriller writer), and parts of the convention and the final reveal/resolution seemed unrealistically neat. Still a unique and fun thriller, especially for those who like meta-commentary on authors.
February was an EXCELLENT reading month. I decided to actually go to the library after only checking out books through Libby for about 3 years, and let me tell you—that beautiful building did not disappoint.
The Change by Kirsten Miller
This one was even better than I expected it to be. Three women discover they have powers triggered by their respective midlife crises and together use those newfound powers to fight the evil in their community and bring justice to the innocent victims. This was such a fun, irreverent, empowering work of feminist fiction, and definitely my favorite February read!
Believe Me by JP Delaney
For me, JP Delaney is a sure thing. The first book of his I ever read was The Girl Before and it blew my mind. Believe Me was no different—what a ride! Claire is a British drama student living in New York with no green card and very little in the way of job prospects. To pay rent, she finds a job working for a family law firm, entrapping husbands who have a tendency to stray. The police ask her to use those acting skills to lure a suspected murderer into a confession, and as Claire gets deeper into the role, the line between fact and fiction begins to blur. It soon becomes clear that Claire has landed herself in the most dangerous role she has ever played.
A Long Way Down by Randall Silvis
This was my first time reading one of Silvis’s Ryan DeMarco mysteries, and I have to say I really enjoyed it! DeMarco and his partner, Jayme, agree to help an old friend (who is now the county sheriff) investigate a string of murders in DeMarco’s hometown that are eerily similar to a cold case from his school days. The journey to finding the killer is dark and twisted, and being back home brings up a lot of unresolved issues for DeMarco, making the investigation that much more difficult. This serial killer thriller is definitely one I would recommend.
That’s our list! What did you read in February?