This was another great month of reading! Not quite like January (I read 12 books – lol) but still very good. I read seven books and it was a really nice mix of heavy and light. Detransition, Baby and The Underground Railroad were both incredible but also pretty intense books so it was good to pair those with something a little lighter and fluffy. And I can’t shut up about Untamed. Glennon Doyle. I felt so inspired by her , I worry that I didn’t fully absorb everything she said as the book was just packed with so. much. wisdom. I listened the first time around but ordered a hard copy to refer back to!
EVERYTHING I READ IN FEBRUARY 2021
Only one non-fiction book this month (I wasn’t great about getting out for my walks), but 6 (mostly) great fiction books. And as always, I am doing my best to remember to include trigger warnings. Also, my usual disclaimer: the grades I assign to these books are my opinions, based on how much I enjoy a book… but my opinions don’t have to be your opinions! And this month I am including links to both Bookshop.org and Amazon. If you are able to, I always encourage buying your books from a local book seller (or Bookshop.org) but I know that many people are more price-sensitive right now. So do what works best for you – this is a judgment free zone.
IF YOU’RE NEW HERE AND ARE LOOKING FOR A BOOK, DON’T FORGET THAT YOU CAN ALWAYS CHECK OUT MY BEAUTIFUL BOOK CLUB PAGE.
Every month I update it with everything I read – it includes every book I’ve read in the past six years. The best part is that now you can filter + search by genre (memoir, light read, historical fiction, thriller, books by Black authors, etc!) Now you can also filter by GRADE to find exactly what you’re looking for or just peruse my top picks. If you’re feeling like you need even more book recs, check out last month’s list! And, just in case you missed it… everything I read in 2020, ranked by genre.
This Month’s Non-Fiction!
Untamed by Glennon Doyle
I’ve been on a bit of a self-improvement kick around here. It started with Big Magic and then interviewing Elizabeth Gilbert. When we interviewed Elizabeth, we talked about her podcast, Magic Lessons. She was talking about the episode with Glennon, so I went back and listened to that and found myself so taken with Glennon (who I did not realize got her start as a blogger) especially with regard to the insights she shared around building her community. And so I found myself downloading Untamed.
If you are a people pleaser, you must read this book. One of the biggest takeaways I had from it was the fact that when we focus on pleasing others we stop thinking for ourselves. It’s one of my favorite books I’ve read in ages in terms of self-help/personal growth. If this says anything, I have been relistening and ordered a hard copy so that I can re read it in sections. Order it on Bookshop or Amazon.
- Overall Score: A+
More Serious Fiction Reads.
The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead
This past summer, I read The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead and really loved it. Similar to this book, it was painful to read but beautifully written and one of those books that will probably stick with me together. This one was even more painful – it tore my heart in half.
Colson Whitehead has a knack for describing horrible torture and atrocities in such a straightforward manner that can be really unsettling. Some of the things he describes are visually horrific and incredibly painful to read. It’s the story of Cora, a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hell, but as she approaches womanhood, it’s getting even more awful. Her and her friend Caesar hatch a plan to escape. But when things do not go as planned and Cora accidentally kills a white boy that tries to capture her, the hunt for the two of them escalates – her former master will stop at nothing to hunt her down. Making her way to South Carolina (where a different sort of atrocity awaits), and up the states looking for freedom, Cora faces terrible danger around every corner.
I could not put it down. It was so upsetting and sad. I cried several times. But the writing is beautiful and this is a really important book to read. Also, Colson Whitehead’s version of the Underground Railroad (where it’s actually a series of trains and tunnels underneath the South) was really interesting and unique. Order it on Bookshop or Amazon.
- Overall Score: A+
Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters
I was really excited about this one but had no idea what to expect. There’s been a tremendous amount of buzz and excitement about it, all verrrry merited. I’ve read a lot of books with trans side characters, but never a main character, and never anything that went this deep into looking at trans culture and what life as a trans person would feel like. I will tell you that the ending crushed me a bit, but it’s such a great book.
It’s about a trans couple that broke up. Ames and Reese were once in love (back when Ames was Amy), but have gone their separate ways. After enduring horrible trauma as a trans woman, Amy decided to detransition and live life as a man. He meets Katrina (her boss), and the two of them begin dating. Ames thinks he can’t get her pregnant because of the hormones he’d taken to initially transition but surprise – he accidentally gets Katrina pregnant. Meanwhile all that Reese has ever longed for is motherhood. The three strike an unlikely decision to raise the baby together). I am not going to tell you anything else, but will tell you that I had to call Becca when I finished it, I needed to talk about the ending. I was really upset! Order it on Bookshop or Amazon.
- Overall Score: A-
The Lost Apothecary, by Sarah Penner (out 3/2/21)
I had been thinking how much I wanted to read more historical fiction (I barely read any historical fiction in 2020 and it’s actually a genre I really enjoy), and this one was sent to me. I was immediately intrigued: a hidden eighteenth century apothecary helping women to kill abusive or predatory partners with poisons. The idea of this secret network of women felt like a fun take on feminism, and a mystery I’d absolutely want to read. I will tell you that Becca DNF’d it, and I almost did until I got to about a hundred pages.
It was just a slow start. But once I got into it, I really enjoyed it. It alternates storylines between 1791 – Nella the apothecary and her young friend Eliza; and modern day, with Caroline visiting London to take a break from her husband after learning he’s had an affair and feeling discontent about her life. It starts slow, but definitely gets better – I’m glad I kept reading! There’s also a few fun twists at the end. Order it on Bookshop or Amazon.
- Overall Score: B+
Too Good To Be True, by Carola Lovering
I loved Carola Lovering’s last book, Tell Me Lies. It came out a few years ago and I still credit it as the book that made me stop dating guys that didn’t treat me well. Better than any self-help book, a cautionary tale! This is her newest and I was SO excited to read it. It’s a wild ride. I read it in a 24 hour period and had to take a nap afterward.
The book alternates between the perspectives of Skye, Burke, and Heather. Skye is a rich, beautiful 29 year old who has battled with OCD since the death of her mother. She lives a glamorous life in Manhattan, working as a book editor, but her love life has always suffered. When she meets Burke, a handsome older man, they fall madly in love. Of course, all is not that it seems, Burke is actually happily married with a wife and three kids in Connecticut. The last perspective is Heather (Burke’s wife), but a young Heather – before Burke and her were married.
The book is definitely very twisty. Some parts I saw coming, others, definitely not!!!! I don’t want to tell you too much (truly – the less you know going into a book like this, the better!) but I think there are some great conversations around wealth, forgiveness, and obsession. I highly recommend it! Order it on Bookshop or Amazon.
- Overall Score: A-
Everything After, by Jill Santopolo (out 3/9)
Trigger warnings: miscarriage/infertility, side character that contemplated suicide. I was really excited for this book as I love this author. She has such a knack for writing dramatic, gut-wrenching romances… I still think about The Light We Lost. But this one fell a little bit flat for me. I think it’s really that I just could not identify or relate to the main character at all. Emily is 33 years old, a therapist, and married to a successful doctor. When she suffers a miscarriage she is transported back to when she was 20 years old (and also had a miscarriage). Old feelings come up, and at the same time an old flame (now a successful musician, with a hit song about her!) comes back into the picture.
I think that for me, I just couldn’t understand why she was still so gutted by a miscarriage she had at that young age (half the book is letters to that unborn child). I truly apologize if this comes across as insensitive, but it just wasn’t my kind of book. Again, I do love this author and feel badly leaving a less than glowing review. I still read it in a day but it was a little bit of a letdown for me. I think that maybe someone who desperately wants children could identify with her better than I did. Order it on Bookshop or Amazon.
- Overall Score: B-
Coming Soon (or Soon-ish)
The Therapist, by B.A. Paris (out 7/13/21)
I am so sorry for reviewing a book that is not coming out until July but I am incapable of having a B.A. Paris book in my general vicinity and not dropping everything to read it!!!! You may remember B.A. Paris as the author of Behind Closed Doors which is one of my all time favorite terrifying read-in-a-day thrillers.
This one (set in London) is about a couple – Leo and Alice, who move into a beautiful new home in a gated community known as The Circle. The only drawback? A horrible murder took place in the bedroom just a year ago. As Alice becomes more and more obsessed with solving the murder (the husband was charged and committed suicide), she alienates herself from Leo and her new neighbors… stopping at nothing to figure out who did it. This one is unputdownable. It’s not as good as Behind Closed Doors but I loved it, and would definitely recommend pre-ordering it so that you have a fun (very scary!!) treat to look forward to this summer! Order it on Bookshop or Amazon.
- Overall Score: A-
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photo by Carter Fish.