February 2020 Book Recap & Ratings {Monthly Reading Wrap-Up)

Book Ratings

Hello March!

Last month was a pretty spectacular month of reading! All of my books (I only had one go to the DNF pile) were 4 stars and higher! I owe this to all the awesome #bookstagrammer recommendations.

February Reading Highs

5 star books

While I had many favorites, my 5-star reads were The Girl with the Louding Voice, The Vanishing Half, Friends and Strangers, Nothing to See Here and All Along You Were Blooming.

LibroFM Bookstore Link!

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One thing before we get started. A couple of months ago LibroFM started Bookstore Link. This allows you to share books online and give your readers the opportunity to purchase the book from their choice of independent bookstores.

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(image via the LibroFM Blog)

Whenever possible, I will be including the LibroFM bookstore link alongside any other referral links like Amazon or Book of The Month and then you can make the decision about how you purchase them!

bookstore link

Most often, when I am sharing about books with publication dates that are pretty far out, I will have to add the bookstore link closer to the publication date, so if you see the link missing, that is probably why!

On to the Book Recap!

Holly Jackson

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

My Thoughts…

I am not a big YA fan but I kept seeing this recommended so I decided to give it a shot. During the first few chapters, I was worried it might have that YA predictability but it has been a great surprise! This was a great binge-listen while running errands and I am excited that I don’t have to wait that long for the next installment, Good Girl, Bad Blood, coming next month!

Purchase Your Copy:

Amazon Link | Libro FM Link

The Roxy Letters by Mary Pauline Lowry

The Roxy Letters by Mary Pauline Lowry

DNF (Did Not Finish)

(Publishing on April 7th, 2020)

I have had some requests to include my DNF books in my reading wrap-ups. I struggled with this decision for a while because I certainly don’t want to actually review a book that I  haven’t finished but I also think it can help give some perspective.

You can learn a lot about a reader’s taste when you hear the books they liked AND the ones that didn’t work for them. So I will see how this goes and this month I am including the only book that I did not finish (DNF) in my reading recap.

My Thoughts on The Roxy Letters

Books told through letter format can go either way for me. Unfortunately, the narrative combined with this writing style just didn’t hold my attention. I also really struggled to connect with the main character because of some of her language choices.

While the summary sounded appealing and quite cute, I ended up finding it over the top and cringe-worthy. It ended up distracted me more than anything else and I had to put this one down after struggling through the first quarter of it. Some of my favorite #bookstagrammers loved this one, it just wasn’t for me.

Thank you to NetGalley. LibroFM and Simon and Schuster for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

Abi Dare

The Girl With The Louding Voice by Adi Dare

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⁣

My Thoughts…

After much contemplation, I selected The Girl with The Louding Voice as my February Book of the Month Club choice. I hadn’t heard much about it and then I started seeing rave reviews all over Instagram (thank you @michellenputney @katieneedsabiggerbookshelf and @kmc_reads) and they totally sold me!

This book reels you right in from the start. We meet Adunni a fourteen-year-old Nigerian girl who is learning she will soon be married to a man older than her father. All she wants is to go to school and learn so this is just devastating news. ⁣

This coming of age story is full of heartbreak but also of perseverance and powerful connections. I can’t wait to share my full review for this one soon but once again, the #bookstagrammer crew was right!

Purchase Your Copy:

Amazon Link | LibroFM Bookstore Link

BA Paris

The Dilemma by B.A. Paris

(Publishing June 30th, 2020)

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⁣

My Thoughts…

The Dilemma is more of an emotional family drama than a fast-paced thriller (like her 2017 novel Behind Closed Doors) which may disappoint some B.A. Paris readers but it really worked for me. I enjoyed the nuanced look at family and relationships and there was the perfect amount of suspense tied in.

Everyone in this book has a secret and the question becomes, are they keeping them to protect each other or themselves? This was still a total page-turner and also had you asking yourself as the reader what you would do in these unique situations.

Miscommunication and indecision are the main themes of this novel and I loved the multifaceted look at how decisions are not always as easy as they look at first glance.

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for an advanced copy.

Purchase Your Copy:

Amazon Link

Simone St. James

The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫⁣

My Thoughts…

This book starts off slowly and builds up with both suspense and intrigue. The dual timelines worked well for me and helped flush out all the details that made me feel invested and drawn in.

While I am not normally interested in books regarding the paranormal, the balance was perfect here and this element was not offputting as I worried about when I heard there was a “ghost” aspect of this book. There was just as much of a murder mystery which is definitely more my style so if that is one of your hold-ups, don’t fear! This was my first book by Simone St. James and it won’t be my last.

Purchase Your Copy:

Amazon Link | LibroFM Bookstore Link

Morgan Harper Nichols

All Along You Were Blooming by Morgan Harper Nichols

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⁣

My Thoughts…

First off, if you aren’t following Morgan Harper Nichols yet, you need to. Her work is so beautiful and inspiring and when I heard she was writing a book I knew I had to have it. You can read the whole story about that over on Instagram HERE. But basically, this book is everything. Highly highly recommend.

Purchase Your Copy:

Amazon Link 

Meg Mitchell Moore

Two Truths and A Lie by Meg Mitchell Moore

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫⁣

(Publishing on ‪5/26/20‬)

It may be March in Vermont (which is very much still winter) but I am ready for ALL the summer 2020 books! I am working on a blog post that is coming soon but this one is high on my list for awesome summer reading!

Meg Mitchell Moore’s book The Islanders topped my list for 2019 summer reading and I couldn’t wait to dive into another one of hers. I figured our trip to Florida last week was the perfect excuse to read this early release.

Her books always scream summer vacation(I brought the Islanders to Maine last summer and it was just perfect!) This one is a beach book with a little mystery tied in which made for a great mix. And it made me so happy to have little glimpses of the Islanders tied in (like the Dinner by Dad blog!)

Purchase Your Copy:

Amazon Link

J. Courtney Sullivan

Friends and Strangers by J. Courtney Sullivan

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⁣

(Publishing June 23rd, 2020)

I finished J. Courtney Sullivans Friends and Strangers and wow!!! Sullivan has always been one of my favorite authors but this one was just amazing.

It has a Such a Fun Age vibe with the whole relationship between a family and their caregiver and I loved the nuanced writing, the perfectly imperfect characters and the reminder of how easily lines can be blurred. This one comes out in June and I look forward to sharing more about it then.

Thank you to Knopf for an advanced copy. 

Purchase Your Copy:

Amazon Link

Brit Bennett

The Vanishing Half  by Brit Bennett

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⁣

(Publishing June 2nd, 2020)

My Thoughts…

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett was a highly anticipated 2020 book for me. Bennett’s debut novel The Mothers was one of my favorite books of 2016 and I was blown away by her gorgeous and compelling writing style.

The Vanishing Half has a completely unique storyline that is composed of so many thought-provoking and timely themes. The plot spans decades and shares the perspectives of twin sisters and their two daughters whose lives eventually intersect. They all take very different paths in life and struggle in their own unique ways.

Issues of race, gender, self-doubt, identity and family relationships all come into play. I loved how many important and timely topics were personified and just part of each character’s overall storylines.

Bennett’s characters are well developed and none of them are free of heartaches or regrets even though they chose to live their lives very differently. I appreciated the multifaceted narratives of these women and this was just such a powerful, thought-provoking and moving novel.

Thank you to Riverhead Books for an advanced copy.

Purchase Your Copy:

Amazon Link

Kathleen West

Minor Drama & Other Catastrophes Kathleen West

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⁣

My Thoughts…

Minor Dramas & Other Catastrophes is a nuanced look at school politics at a prestigious school in an affluent Minnesota community. Written with humor and plenty of drama, West succeeds at sharing a look at high school life from the perspective of a well-meaning teacher who gets caught in the web of meeting the demands and expectations of parents/administrators and other teachers. We meet a slew of characters who set the scene and it is all too relatable to anyone who has ever been a part of a school community, whether as a teacher, parent or both.

I found Minor Dramas & Other Catastrophes to be a light read with a great mix of thought-provoking and timely topics many of us can relate to. While some of the storylines may seem over the top, for me, they added to the complexities schools deal with in this digital age. I did struggle at times with keeping track of all the characters but all in all, this was a very enjoyable book that would make for a great book club discussion!

Thank you to Berkley Publishing for an advanced copy. 

Purchase Your Copy:

Amazon Link | LibroFM Bookstore Link 

The Two Lives of Lydia Bird

The Two Lives of Lydia Bird by Josie Silver

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Two Lives of Lydia Bird was a highly anticipated book for me as I very much delighted in Josie Silver’s 2018 novel One Day in December. Not only did I end up enjoying The Two Lives of Lydia Bird but I ended up connecting with it even more than my first book by Silver.

I can appreciate a fun contemporary romance but I definitely am drawn to plotlines that are a bit more realistic and relatable so this was a great fit for me. Silver shines at sharing stories that are heartwarming while also feeling like they are rooted in reality.

This book was heavy at times and I appreciated the look at the process of grief, especially for a young woman who was still finding herself when she lost the love of her life. The plotline isn’t seamless and I got a lot out of seeing the main character Lydia move through the different stages of loss.

While there was a romantic storyline, I appreciated that this new guy didn’t just sweep Lydia off her feet and make her forget about her grief. The overwhelming and persistent feelings of loss felt real and the tumultuous road to her healing made this book feel heartbreaking and powerful at the same time. If you are looking for an engaging and emotional read, I definitely recommend this one.

Thank you to Ballantine Books for the gifted advanced copy and galley. 

Purchase Your Copy:

Amazon Link | LibroFM Bookstore Link | Book of the Month Club Referral 

Margarita Montimore

Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫⁣

My Thoughts…

Oona Out of Order was not really on my reading radar until it popped up as one of the LibroFM’s ALC Program’s February audiobook selections. Fiction audiobooks can either be wonderful or totally confusing for me to follow but this one ended up being the perfect listen.

Oona Out of Order was an unexpected and totally delightful reading surprise for me. While I am not normally drawn to books that have a “magical realism” element, this travel time aspect was not only doable for me but super enjoyable!

We meet the main character Oona in 1982, who at the age of 19, starts to live her life “out of order”. Every New Year’s Day (which also happens to be her birthday) Oona wakes up and is in a totally different stage of life all of it completely random.

While this was definitely a unique storyline, I connected with it right away.  I loved the aspects of nostalgic pop culture mixed with Oona’s introspection and life lessons she learns along the way.

I enjoyed watching Oona’s struggles and triumphs and Montimore’s writing had the perfect balance of being totally enjoyable while also having wonderful thought-provoking moments. The themes of love, family and self-acceptance are wonderful additions to this super endearing and completely unique novel and I can’t recommend this one enough.

Thank you to LibroFM and Flatiron Books for an advanced audiobook copy. All opinions are my own.

Purchase Your Copy:

Purchase Your Copy:

Amazon Link | LibroFM Bookstore Link

Book of the Month Club

A Good Neighborhood  by Therese Ann Fowler

My Thoughts…

Author Therese Anne Fowler has written a book that is both compelling and provocative. A Good Neighborhood is super timely and I know this will be one that is talked about at length this coming year.

The novel delves into issues of young love, race, gender, family, identity, socioeconomic issues, community, and sexual consent. While the writing is complex it also kept me on the edge of my seating while reading it.

While this book was heavy with thought-provoking and important topics, it is completely readable and engaging. I found the narration told through the collective voice of the main character’s neighbors was unique and nuanced. This way of storytelling lets the characters come through in a layered and multifaceted manner.

While some of the storylines were fairly predictable, it was so only because so much of what this fiction novel focuses around is all too relatable in today’s real-world and polarizing political climate.

There were parts of this book that stood out to me more than others but all in all this book is not to be missed. The many complexities to the characters and storyline made this especially gripping and it would make an amazing book club discussion.

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

Purchase Your Copy:

Amazon Link | Libro FM Bookstore Link | Book of the Month Club Referral Link 

 

Kevin Wilson

Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⁣

Have you read any books lately that surprised you in the best possible way?! I totally judge books by their covers…sometimes for the best and sometimes for the worst. Nothing to See Here had been on my reading radar for months now but the cover just made me think I WOULD NOT LIKE IT. Even though I kept hearing great things, I was like “NOPE!”

But I kept hearing good things, and I am easily influenced by raving book reviews. When I looked into it further I saw that it was under 250 pages and last week on a whim I picked it up and then COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN! ⁣

While there is an element of kids catching on fire, this book is SO much more. It is hysterical and heartwarming and so unique in the best possible way. ⁣Lillian the main character’s voice is the very best part, and family dynamics, friendship, parental love, and acceptance are weaved through this delightful plotline. I can’t recommend this one enough!

Purchase Your Copy:

Amazon Link LibroFM Bookstore Link

Jessica Simpson book

Open Book by Jessica Simpson

Who else was super excited when they saw Jessica Simpson was writing a memoir?!⁣
I have always felt a strong connection with Jessica, I think mostly because I was a teenager at a similar time as her. I followed along as she shared (on TRL of course) matured, married and shared her life on Newlyweds.

Our lives, of course, are very different but her vulnerability was refreshing. While she did air some “dirty laundry” (and I was here that for that!!) it was in a way that was still compassionate which I so appreciated. I loved hearing about the work she has done to better herself and her self awareness was a pleasant surprise.

Open Book was the perfect mix of being total brain candy while also being a great reminder about how wonderful and helpful it can be to share both the highs and lows of our lives, whether it is in front of millions of people are just in our smaller circles in our everyday lives.

Purchase Your Copy:

Amazon Link | LibroFM Bookstore Link


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I so appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts or feedback below! Please email me at genthebookworm@gmail.com to connect further.