This short month brought me so many new books to try and provide book reviews. Some were just awful. In fact, I stopped reading one book after half a page. I stopped another book after the first chapter. I just do not have time for silly, frivolous yucky books. But I did find some new favorites.
These are the best books I read in February!
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Gone to the Woods by Gary Paulsen
This is one of those books I will always remember. This is an author I already love and will read anything he writes.
My favorite books of Mr. Paulsen’s include Hatchet and My Life in Dog Years. The latter was a book I always read aloud to my third graders.
Gone to the Woods is Mr. Paulsen’s account of his early childhood from the age of five until he joined the armed forces. The book is gritty and real as he tells about his mother’s lack of care for him. When he was five he was sent to the wilderness to live with relatives Edy and Sig. The couple lived off the land and soon had Gary doing “work jobs” most of which he’d never heard of. He watched and listened and learned.
One passage was hauntingly beautiful as young Gary made his first foray into deep woods in a canoe with Sig whispering, “See, look, see…”
“And there it was – the moment- the very split second, of all the minutes of all the time the boy would ever have, that would never cease to exist. The moment- though he would not know it or understand it fully until he was an older man- when he would never again be able to, nor want to, separate himself from nature….the moment was so pure, so profound, that he caught himself holding his breath.”
And here is the absolute best part. As a teen Mr. Paulsen had no adult supervision. How did he survive? Well, you will need to grab this book to find out, but I will tell you his life was changed forever by a librarian.
Five stars for this book! It was beautiful and I was sad to finish it.
The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
For many reasons Nora is depressed. She did not pursue a career that involved singing in a band due to panic attacks. Her cat is run over. She has lost her job. An elderly neighbor says she no longer is needed to help him with shopping.
No one needs her.
“She wanted to have a purpose, something to give her a reason to exist.”
Nora takes a drastic measure and instead of dying straight away, she finds herself awakening in a large library. The librarian greets her with an explanation of where she has arrived.
“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.”
So, what does Nora do? She chooses a book. What would you do?
This science-fiction book dives right into the opportunities missed as we make choices during our lifetimes. “You have as many lives as possibilities. There are lives where you make different choices.”
I cannot reveal much more without giving away the gist of this book. I cheered for Nora as she tackled this diversion head-on. I wanted her to be happy and find a joy-filled place where she was needed. “Maybe there was no perfect life for her, but somewhere, surely, there was a life worth living.”
I loved, loved this book. It was very different and without being melodramatic, it was encouraging and hopeful. It is a tad unbelievable and yet, the author pulls it off. Five stars for this book! I suspect it will be on my top ten best books at the end of this year!
The Kindest Lie by Nancy Johnson
Ruth is a young black woman that followed a dream to attend Yale and work as an engineer. She is married to Xavier and seems to be doing very, very well.
On the day Obama wins his first presidential bid, all is right with Ruth’s world.
Or is it? Xavier pressures her to start a family and she is forced to tell him about something that happened to her when she was 17. This confession changes everything. Ruth goes home, to a small Indiana town, where she was raised by her grandparents.
Some back story: Ruth’s mom disappeared when she was very young and with her brother, Eli, she moved in with her grandparents. Mama and Papa sacrificed for years to provide the children with what was needed, despite living in poverty. How they were able to send Ruth to a private school and later to college is part of the story.
Returning home for the first time in several years Ruth confronts her past. The secrets whirl around her and her brother, her grandmother and long-ago friends.
“A lifetime of lies never added up to anything good. A lifetime of doing the wrong things for the right reasons. A lifetime of lies that started small, like a nick in the windshield, then eventually shattered the glass.”
Well written, beautiful passages, and characters you will love. Definitely 5 stars for this book.
The Invisible Life of Addie Larue by V.E Schwab
In the 1700s Addie is being forced to marry. In desperation, Addie makes a bargain with a dark being she calls Luc. She will live forever but no one will remember her.
Her journey through time is interesting. She cannot own anything, cannot have a place to live, can’t earn money, can’t find love. Because no one remembers her after meeting her. The premise of the book is a little odd and alternates with her backstory and present-day. I have it as one of my favorite books this month because I listened to it. The narrator, Julia Whalen, is magnificent and that made the story compelling. I give it 5 stars as an Audible book!
One by One by Ruth Ware
My least favorite of the month…
Now, I completely understand that I just wrote two book reviews about books that were also unbelievable, but the thing about believability is the way a book is written. If you have read any Harry Potter books you know exactly what I mean.
One by One is the story of a social media company that has a vacation/meeting for their employees. They are in a ski resort in the Alps and staying in a chalet that can only be reached by tram. The meeting part of the vacation is to discuss a potential buyout of the company and the shareholders stand to make millions. The trouble is a tricky 2% of shares are owned by Liz and her vote will determine if the buyout proceeds.
Then someone is missing and presumed dead. An avalanche happens, the power goes out. And somewhere in the middle of all this, there is a wild scene where some of them decide to try to ski down the mountain. In the dark. After an avalanche. On trails they are not familiar with. With cliff sides that drop thousands of feet into nothingness.
Seriously. Skiing is hard enough in the daytime. Night skiing without lights when someone is chasing you… no.
I finished this book because I wanted to see who was possibly killing people off but I can only give it 2 stars.
I hope you enjoyed the reviews! Click on any of the images to see more details about the books! Keep on reading.
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My rating system: 5 stars means perfection- the book was written well, held my attention, and I did not want it to end. 4 stars- the book was really good, but I had questions or concerns about parts of it. This might include the way it ended. 3 stars- the book was okay, but I just didn’t like it much. 2 stars- I skimmed most of it. 1 star- I could not finish it.