Hello, everyone! It’s been a while since I last posted. I think this lockdown has been really tough for everyone and it has been especially difficult to find motivation. If you’ve been struggling, I really hope that things pick up soon. Just know that you’re not alone and we will all get through this together.
My favourite way to get through lockdown, is to get stuck into a good book. I have been reading a lot more than usual and I have found that it gives me something to look forward to and something to focus on. I created an instagram account dedicated to books and reading and I’ve found the “bookstagram” community to friendly and welcoming. I definitely feel that reading is a nice escape from reality and it allows me to live vicariously through fictional characters.
I managed to read a few books in February so I thought I would share my thoughts on my recent reads.
My Dark Vanessa – Kate Elizabeth Russell
breathless excitement of a teenage girl discovering the power her own body can wield. This book explores the psychological dynamics of the relationship between a precocious, yet naïve teenage girl and her magnetic and manipulative teacher. TW: Contains child abuse and sexual assault.
Thoughts: I can’t say that I enjoyed reading this book. Not because it wasn’t good, but because it was very dark and distressing. At the same time, I couldn’t put this book down as it was so gripping. I felt frustrated for Vanessa and although I wanted more for her, I felt that the ending gave us hope. I felt that this book was very well-written, especially as it explores some very troubling themes. If you read this book, I would definitely recommend following it with a more light-hearted read. Despite it’s dark nature, I do feel that this is worth the read providing you are in the right headspace for the stomach-churning content. 5/5
The Binding – Bridget Collins
Synopsis: Emmett Farmer is a binder’s apprentice. His job is to hand-craft beautiful books and, within each, to capture something unique and extraordinary: a memory. In a vault under his mentor’s workshop, row upon row of books – and secrets – are meticulously stored and recorded. Then one day Emmett makes an astonishing discovery: one of the volumes has his name on it.
Thoughts: Meh. I read The Binding as part of a book club. I enjoyed The Binding to a certain extent. I was intrigued by the plot before I started reading, however I did struggle to properly get into the book. Towards the end, I carried on reading just so I could finish the book as I had lost interest in the characters and the storyline. This book is split into 3 parts. I felt that the first part was pretty slow, but I was still intrigued by the story. I really enjoyed part 2, and I loved the relationship between Emmett, his sister, Alta, and Alta’s boyfriend Lucian. Part 3 was the most disappointing and I had lost all interest at this point. 2.5/5
Such A Fun Age – Kiley Reid
Synopsis: In the midst of a family crisis one late evening, white blogger Alix Chamberlain calls her African American babysitter, Emira, asking her to take toddler Briar to the local market for distraction. There, the security guard accuses Emira of kidnapping Briar, and Alix’s efforts to right the situation turn out to be good intentions selfishly mismanaged.
Thoughts: This was another book club read. I was intrigued by the plot before I started reading, so it didn’t take me very long to properly get into the book. Each chapter alternates between Alix and Emira’s point of view which is super interesting. I really enjoyed the writing style, however I did feel that the dialogue was a bit cringey at times. I really loved Emira as a character as I felt she was really relatable as she just wants job stability and to enjoy her life. I wanted to like Alix but she was so unlikeable. I would highly recommend Such A Fun Age, particularly as it explores the “white saviour” complex. 4/5
One of Us Is Lying – Karen M McManus
Synopsis: On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention. Only, one student never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention, Simon is declared dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder.
Thoughts: This book was definitely a “booksta made me buy it”. One of Us is Lying gave me The Breakfast Club crossed with Pretty Little Liar vibes and I loved it. I wouldn’t say that I am a huge fan of YA books but I was so invested in this book, I didn’t want to put it down. I did predict who was the killer, however there were plenty of twists that I did not predict. If you like a murder mystery that isn’t too gruesome, I would recommend checking out this book. Despite this being a YA book, I really enjoyed the character development throughout. I’m hoping to read One of Us Is Next soon as I’ve heard that is just as good. 4/5
Queenie – Candice Carty-Williams
Synopsis: Queenie Jenkins is a 25-year-old Jamaican British woman living in London, straddling two cultures and slotting neatly into neither. She works at a national newspaper, where she’s constantly forced to compare herself to her white middle class peers. After a messy break up from her long-term white boyfriend, Queenie seeks comfort in all the wrong places…including several hazardous men who do a good job of occupying brain space and a bad job of affirming self-worth. TW: Contains racism and abuse
Thoughts: Okay, this is probably my favourite book that I have read so far in 2021. Queenie is a must read. I was so invested in Queenie as a character that I laughed when she laughed and I cried when she cried. It was interesting to read about how difficult it could be to juggle the two cultures that Queenie has grown up surrounded by. I loved Queenie’s dry humour, but I also love that this book explores the reality of anxiety and trauma. 5/5
The Testaments – Margaret Atwood
Synopsis: The Testaments is set 15 years after the events of The Handmaid’s Tale. The Testaments braids together three separate first-person testimonies, each of which corresponds to one of the novel’s three narrators. The first narrator, Aunt Lydia, composes her account in a manuscript known as “The Ardua Hall Holograph.” The other two narrators, Agnes and Daisy, each give spoken accounts, which appear in the novel as transcripts of witness testimonies. Each of the three narrators tells the story her role in a conspiracy to topple the patriarchal and theocratic regime of the Republic of Gilead.
Thoughts: I am not the biggest fan of The Handmaid’s Tale, however I have recently watched the TV show so I thought I would give The Testaments a go. I really liked that this book was split up into the three perspectives. I particularly liked the contract between Daisy and Agnes. I did feel as though this book wasn’t necessarily needed after The Handmaid’s Tale, however it was a nice tie-in with the TV show. The Testaments started slow, however it did pick up towards the end. I would recommend reading this if you like The Handmaid’s Tale. 3/5
Where The Crawdads Sing – Delia Owens
Synopsis: For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet fishing village. Kya Clark is barefoot and wild; unfit for polite society. So in late 1969, when the popular Chase Andrews is found dead, locals immediately suspect her.
Thoughts: Everyone and their mum seems to have read Where The Crawdads Sing so I went into this book with really high hopes. I’ll admit, I was slightly disappointed with this book, but I know I am in the minority. I did enjoy this book and I really liked that it was very different to what I would usually read. I am really excited for the film of Where The Crawdads Sing as I can imagine it will make a really great film. I loved Kya, and Tate, and I did really enjoy how this book ended. I just felt as though there was something missing and I can’t quite figure out what. I think I ruined it for myself as I went in with too high expectations. I would still recommend this book, as it is a really nice story. 3/5
The Midnight Library – Matt Haig
Synopsis: TW: Mentions of suicide and alcoholism throughout. Between life and death there is a library, and within that library, the shelves go on forever. Every book provides a chance to try another life you could have lived. To see how things would be if you had made other choices . . . After attempting suicide, Nora is taken to The Midnight Library, where she can try all of the other lives that she could have lived.
Thoughts: I have seen this book absolutely everywhere, so I thought I would give it a read. I have heard a few people mention this book so I went in, very intrigued by the plot. I almost wish the Midnight Library was real so I could go through my “book of regrets” and see how differently my life would pan out. I’ll be honest, my life isn’t going in the direction that I hoped it would 5 years ago, so I could relate to Nora. This book starts out heartbreaking, however it soon becomes motivational and inspiring. The thing that I took from The Midnight Library, is that life wouldn’t necessarily be better if I had a different job, or lived in a different house, or achieved better grades at school. 4/5
Verity – Colleen Hoover
Synopsis: Lowen Ashleigh is a struggling writer on the brink of financial ruin when she accepts the job offer of a lifetime. Jeremy Crawford, husband of bestselling author Verity Crawford, has hired Lowen to complete the remaining books in a successful series his injured wife is unable to finish. Lowen arrives at the Crawford home, ready to sort through years of Verity’s notes and outlines. What Lowen doesn’t expect to uncover in the chaotic office is an unfinished autobiography Verity never intended for anyone to read. Page after page of bone-chilling admissions, including Verity’s recollection of what really happened the day her daughter died.
Thoughts: This book had me shook to the core. I have seen so many people raving about Colleen Hoover in Instagram so I thought I would try one of her books. Boy am I glad I did. I read this book in about 24 hours because I was so hooked. There were so many times where I almost threw my kindle across the room because I was so creeped out by what I was reading. I will be recommending this book to EVERYONE because I am obsessed. If you’re into romantic thrillers, I highly recommend checking out Verity. 5/5
So that is everything that I read in February. I’m aware that this is a fairly long list so well done if you made it to the bottom. Please let me know what you read in February, and if you have any recommendations to read in March.