Hello friends, glad to see you here again. February started off a very promising reading month for me, but I only ended up finishing four books. I began reading three others as well, but some library loans came in so I had to put mine back to finish off later. One of them is Get a Life, Chloe Brown, by Talia Hibbert. I only got to 17% in on my Kobo when Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter came in. I also had planned to tackle The Mothers by Brit Bennett this month since I had it on my TBR shelf since I read the Vanishing Half. But I’m almost halfway in, so it will be on my March Reads article.
The four books I did end up finishing are:
The Drowning Kind by Jennifer McMahon
This is my eighth book of the year, first for the month of February. Before I go any further, can I just say that I absolutely love the cover of this book? Isn’t it absolutely gorg? Now that we finished admiring the cover, let’s see if the story was actually any good.
Two storylines: one told from Ethel Monroe’s story of how she came to the place in Vermont, and the other from Jax, a social worker from Seattle who just lost her sister. How exactly do these stories intertwine?
It all started back in 1929, when Ethel, a 37-year-old newlywed, was desperate for a baby. Her husband takes her for a romantic weekend in Vermont, in hopes to uplift her mood from the fact that they can’t seem to conceive. The legend shows that the hotel they are staying at has some special springs, where the water has some superpowers. It grants wishes, but not without taking something in return.
Fast forward to 2019, when Jax receives nine calls from her sister Lexie. Jax moved across the country to get away from her invasive and overbearing younger sister, who is starting to lose touch with reality. She ignores the calls, but in the morning she finds out that her sister had a tragic accident. Lexie drowned in their grandmother’s pool, the same one that was built on the same springs in Vermont. Needless to say, Jax is in shock and mad at herself for ignoring her sister.
When she gets to the house where her sister lived for the last year, their late grandmother’s house, she goes through her sister’s things that she needs to part with. While she’s sorting through the stuff, she discovers that Lexie was researching their family’s history and the story behind their estate.
Of course, curiosity gets the best of her, and she continues where her sister left off. But what she ends up unraveling is dark and holds many secrets, secrets many are prepared to protect.
The book was pretty enjoyable overall, and the writing style flowed naturally. The story was interesting, and I was prepared to give it four stars. That is, until the last chapter or so. The ending left me wanting more.
It felt like the story was rushed, and not seen through to the end. I expected it to have more of a punch, therefore I only gave it 3 stars. The story was well written generally, but at times I found it like the author was repeating herself. I still recommend you read it if you like books with dark family secrets and creepy settings.
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Just finished this book, and I had to let it sit with me for a few days. It brought up so many emotions, but at least, in the end, I got some tears of joy.
The second one is for the month of February, it is my ninth one for the year so far. I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but it might be one of my favorites this year.
The story happens in the 60s, in a small town in Mississippi. Meet Skeeter, a twenty-two-year-old who just came back home after graduating from college. An aspiring journalist, her mother would rather she find a good man to marry.
Usually, whenever she wanted to vent, she would confide in her beloved maid Constantine. The woman who practically raised her seemingly left without a word. No one would tell her what happened to Constantine, and it gets her wondering.
She befriends her friend’s maid Aibileen, who is getting over her own loss. Her son was killed, but she still continues to devote her life to raising white families’ children. She is on her seventeenth child when she meets Skeeter.
Then there’s Minny, Aibeleen’s friend, a sassy maid who gets fired for her sharp tongue. She just found a new job with a new family in town, but her new boss has her own secrets.
Those three women get together under some pretty dangerous circumstances with a common goal in mind. To provoke changes in a small town where the racial lines are very clearly defined. They risk their lives by doing it, but the result is worth taking risks.
A poignant story told with humor, it gives us hope and opens our eyes to how we see things. What are we willing to put up within our lives, what’s right and what’s wrong. Just because things are a certain way, it doesn’t mean that we should accept them as they are.
Although a work of fiction, it does recreate a very painful time in US history. If it wasn’t for people like those brave women in this novel, things would have remained the same.
A very important book to read, as far as I’m concerned. The author writes in the voices of Black maids that had little access to education, and even though she is White, I think she accomplished it very well.
There have been criticisms about white authors writing stories from a black point of view. I find Kathryn Stockett, especially as a white woman who was raised by a black maid, had some knowledge as to how things were back then. But that’s as far as ill take this conversation, because it is a touchy debate, and I really don’t want to open it up. Maybe at a later date, since it is such an important topic worth having an open conversation about.
The book has its own merits and it is well written.
So I recommend it overall, especially if you’ve seen the movie. I gave it four stars on Goodreads, but it’s a strong possibility that I might change to five stars as the year progresses.
Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter
This book was not even on my radar for this year, but when I heard the Netflix show is coming out on March 4th, I immediately borrowed it from my online local library. As my first book by this author, I had very high expectations. Unfortunately, it did not live up to the hype.
Andrea Oliver believes her mother Laura is a normal, small-town mom that is well-respected in their community. But one violent incident they witness and become very much part of changes Andy’s opinion of her perfect mother. She realizes her mom’s been lying to her whole life, and she seems to have a violent streak.
That is just the beginning though. A series of very strange incidents prompt Andrea to find out who her mother really is and what she’s been hiding all these years. Who is this woman who has a very solid reputation in her town?
The truth is even more shocking than Andrea expected, but mother and daughter figure out how to continue to live their lives after things come to a head.
Although the writing was good, I really hated every single character in this book. They were all lying, covering up things, and their reasons were mind-blowing.
The book had a relentless sense of momentum. Present-day Andy was in constant motion, going from town to town without much sleep. At every stop, there’s a clue that ties the story together.
With a complex plot where something unexpected always happens, it does have lots of twists and turns. The ending is surprising but not mind-blowing, and it felt very flat for me. After the very tumultuous events that take place in the book, I really thought it would wow me in the end. But it didn’t, so I only rated it three stars on Goodreads. An ok book, but not one I would deem a re-read for sure!
Sula by Toni Morrison
I’ve had this book on my tbr list for quite a number of years! I’ve read Beloved and Tar Baby back in my school days, and honestly, I don’t remember them at all. I’m definitely due for a re-read. That’s one of the reasons I’m preparing a blog post on re-reading books and how I feel about it.
But for now, I’ll stick to the books I’ve read this month.
This novel is about two young black women that live in a small town in Ohio, in the early 1920s. They have a friendship that is solid, but they make different choices in life. Their divergent paths cross again when they are adults, and they attempt to reconcile after their actions tear them apart.
Nel Wright decides to stay in their hometown and marry the boy next door.
Sula Peace, on the other hand, leaves home to go to college in the big city. When she finishes school, Sula comes back to her roots. She acts as a man does but in those days, especially as a Black woman, people didn’t think very highly of her.
She has to eventually face the consequences of her actions, but will their friendship be able to survive?
The book was written in the early nineties, but Toni Morrison describes the way things used to be decades ago with an inspiring voice. Women of color had it worse than other women in the US in the 1920s in all spheres of life.
Also with less access to education, Sula was progressive for her times and did things her own way. People thought she was a wanton and seductress for doing things that today are considered normal. But back at the beginning of the last century, they were almost unheard of.
Toni Morrison writes with a visionary voice that transports you to a different era. Her poetic style won her a Nobel prize, but this genre is not my favorite, as you well know.
While I did appreciate some aspects of the book, it didn’t move me as I thought it would. Although deemed a masterpiece of literature by many, I didn’t feel I should give it more than 3.5 stars, rounded off to three.
Please be kind in my unpopular opinion, we do not all have the same tastes in books. But don’t let my opinion deter you from reading it. By all means please read it, it is a very richly written epic book, that deserves a chance.
I hope you enjoyed my selection of books for the month of February, and are looking forward to my March reads. I have a few good ones on my shelf, so stay tuned! Until then, keep reading my fellow bookish friends.