After a very zippy start in 2015, I hit a major reading slump mid-February after loving one of these books too much—do you ever experience that? Where you enjoy a book so much that you find it kind of hard to move along to the next one? Many a book suffered early abandonment this month when I couldn’t get over one of these. Read on to see which.
Here are my picks for February, and my thoughts on each of them.
Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood
I have loved what I’ve read by Margaret Atwood in the past (The Handmaid’s Tale and The Blind Assassin), so I was excited to read this one, a fictional account of a true crime—Grace Marks was convicted in 1843 for the murders of her employer and housekeeper, and spent 30 years in jail but claimed to have no memory of the murders.
You have to respect Margaret Atwood—she is an amazing writer—but I didn’t love this book. It was very slow-moving, and there was sort of a huge reveal near the end that was rushed through and never explored. I felt totally cheated out of what should have been a really interesting ending.
The writing and structure of the book were just fantastic, but overall, I had a hard time getting through this one.
The Lost Husband by Katherine Center
After her husband’s death, Libby and her two children spend a few years living with her critical, distant mother before being invited to live and work with an eccentric aunt they’ve never met on her farm in rural Texas.
If most ‘chick lit’ feels too fluffy for you, this might be a good fit. I thought it was cute and light and so easy to speed through, but it has more substance than a lot of chick lit.
Plus, it made me want to live on a goat farm (words I never thought I’d say).
Working Stiff by Judy Melinek
How many books about cadavers can (or should) a person read? Two in two months may be a bit much, actually.
This was certainly interesting, and if you read Stiff and found it hard to put down, you may enjoy this one, too. But Stiff had a lot of humor to keep it feeling light despite the subject matter—this one certainly does not. In particular, the chapters on the 9/11 attacks are grim and depressing (as one would expect). Overall, I found it interesting and read quite a bit of it to Jeff (weird deaths just beg to be read aloud), but if you’re only going to read one book about cadavers (!), go with Stiff.
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Oh, the wait on the library hold list for this one! Ages!
This thriller keeps being compared to Gone Girl, which I think is pretty appropriate, although in my opinion it doesn’t have that mess-with-your-head quality quite as strongly as Gone Girl (which, for the record, I enjoyed but didn’t love—this isn’t a genre I get super excited about).
Rachel (a quality character name choice) gets daily glimpses into a young married couple’s life on her commute by train, and becomes caught up in the search when the wife goes missing.
This was nearly impossible to step away from, and we had a few days of laundry piling up and toast for dinner while I raced through it.
Bloodroot by Amy Greene
Without a doubt, my favorite book of the month. This novel follows the story of one family, as told by various interconnected characters, on a quiet Appalachian mountain, and the legacies and mystery that shape who the family members become.
I loved it—the characters are fantastic, and the setting and landscape are written so beautifully that even the dang mountain feels like a character. I always love a little dash of magical realism (if it’s handled well!), and it is a perfect addition here.
I enjoyed it so much, actually, that it threw me into quite a reading slump when I was finished. It’s kind of hard to get excited about whatever book follows a really good one.
The Life Intended by Kristin Harmel
This novel reminded me a lot of The Lost Husband (reviewed above) in more ways than one. They both featured bereaved widows who lost young husbands, and both walked that line between fluffy chick lit and heavy fiction.
In The Life Intended, 12 years have passed since Kate lost her husband—she is recently engaged and successful in her career, but still feels lost and cheated of what should have been a perfect life with her late husband. But vivid, eerily realistic dreams of what her life could have been had her husband not died make her question the direction she’s heading in, and have her wondering if there might be a remnant of her lost family out there somewhere.
Like The Lost Husband, it hits some heavy topics while still feeling rather breezy and light, which makes it super easy to zip through. And the ending surprised me when I was sure I had it pegged, which is always kinda nice.