The books I read : February 2021
February 2021 was an amazing month for me in terms of the books I read. I know February is long gone! In fact, it is almost April! But considering all the wonderful books that I read, I had to put this post out now, no matter how late it was! I managed to finish 6 books in the shortest month of the year! Here are the books that I read and a little bit about what I liked/disliked about them. I’m sure you’ll find something you’ll like.
Beartown by Fredrik Backman
I love the books that I have read by Fredrik Backman so far and I loved this one too. But this is so different from the other books of his that I have read.
Beartown is the story of a town obsessed with hockey. The town is looking forward to their junior boys team’s performance in the local tournament because they have a shot at winning it. The town is keen on a victory because winning the tournament would mean getting noticed.
But then this is not a story of hockey at all! This book reflects the society that we live in. A society which easily puts the blame on the victim especially when the accused is famous!
Kevin, the star player is arrested for raping Maya. But everyone around accuses Maya of wrongdoing or they say she just deserved it. Reading it made me angry but I know that often this is the reality!
Just like any other book by Fredrik Backman, Beartown also has its share of characters who may seem ordinary but are interesting in their own way. And I liked how each character, their strengths and the failings are all brought together so well.
Read this if you haven’t already! I just finished reading the sequel of this book – Us Against You because I wanted to know what happened in Beartown next.
My rating: 5/5
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
I’m sure all of us have faced discrimination in some form or the other. If you haven’t, consider yourself lucky! We have all heard of racial discrimination and have read a lot of books about it. This book explores racial discrimination through the lives of two “coloured” sisters.
Desiree and Stella Vignes are identical twins who live in the “coloured” town of Mallard with their mother Adele. They have seen their father getting beaten up and killed by certain White men. The twins are always together. Though identical, they are different. While Desiree is the one seeking adventure, Stella is the quiet, shy one. But at the age of 16, they both decide to run away from Mallard in search of a better future.
But then one day, Stella runs away from Desiree. Desiree is shattered. But life goes on for both twins. Stella goes on to live as a white woman without her husband knowing anything about her being coloured. Desiree also gets married to a man she fell in love with. The two sisters do not know about each other’s whereabouts.
A few years down the line, Desiree finds herself back in Mallard with her daughter living the same life that she once wanted to escape. And Stella continues living the life of a White woman.
And then there is a chance encounter between Jude- Desiree’s daughter and Kennedy-Stella’s daughter. When Desiree looks at her mother’s twin, she is shocked but Kennedy does not know about her mother’s history. Will Kennedy find out? And will Jude tell her mother about finding Stella? Will the twins reunite?
The story is brilliantly narrated and is at a pace that makes you want to know what happens next. The character development is good and all that makes the story better. Though characters have stories of their own, it all comes together so well. This is an interesting read if you like well written fiction. The book also tried bringing in some queer representation and I felt like it was just there and may have been used better.
My rating :4/5
The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah
There was time when I’d go about pre-ordering books, but I hadn’t done that for a while. That was until I heard of Kristin Hannah’s “The Four Winds”. I was on a Kristin Hannah reading marathon last year when I finished The Great Alone, The Nightingale and The Winter Garden one after the other. So when I got to know about a new book, I knew I had to get it.
The Four Winds is set around the time of the Great Depression. Elsinore or Elsa as we get to know her has been told by her family that she is not healthy enough, that she is not beautiful enough. She is lonely and she feels trapped. And then one day, dressed in a beautiful red dress that she made herself, she goes out to the town breaking the rules that her family set for her.
Elsa soon finds herself in the Martinelli household because she is pregnant with Rafe Martinelli’s child and her parents have disowned her after finding out about it. The Martinellis are hardworking people who believe in the power of their land. Elsa soon learns to live the farm life.
But then there are no rains, the dust storms rage and the land stops bearing any crop. Each passing day things become worse and it becomes difficult to survive. Elsa’s husband disappears, Elsa’s son becomes ill and Elsa’s daughter blames her for all of it.
But Elsa hasn’t given up. When California offers a ray of hope, Elsa and her children pack their meager belongings and go to California. But will things get better?
I like books with strong female characters and this book doesn’t disappoint on that front. Elsa is a fighter. She adapts to change and is willing to do anything for her family. I loved the characters and relationships they share especially the friction between Elsa and her daughter Loreda. This is story of survival. Kristin Hannah’s paints a vivid picture of the farm life, the dust storms and the struggles and the troubles of life in California.
The book is over 400 pages and I felt that it could have been shorter. But since the story is so gripping, I finished it in less than a week’s time. Not my favourite book by Kristin Hannah, but a good one nonetheless.
My rating: 4/5
Beach Read by Emily Henry
I do not often read romance. But I had seen this book doing rounds on Bookstagram and it seemed interesting. Since I was on the lookout for something light for my next book to read, I decided to pick this one. I ended up listening to it on Audible.
January Andrews is romance writer who finds herself in a house by the beach to finish her next book. The beach house belonged to her father who died recently and left the house for her. January is dealing with a lot of emotions mostly because of her father’s death and the aspects of his life that she knew nothing about until after this death.
Augustus Everett is a literary fiction writer and just like January, he finds himself in a writer’s block and has resorted to living in the beach house beside January’s to finish the book.
And then as a dare, they decide to switch genres!
The book follows their story of finding out each other’s writing process and finding out bits and pieces of each other’s lives. And no prizes for guessing, they are attracted towards each other.
The best part for me was that the main characters were writers! Though the emotional baggage that both characters carry could be commonly there in a lot of stories, there are certain aspects of this story that make it interesting and refreshing.
Though I liked how the book was also about their writing process, I kept wondering how they could both complete their books on time despite all the things that were happening. I felt it would have been better if there were more things about writing. My most favourite character from this book was Pete – Gus’s aunt who was just amazing!
If you are looking for a breezy read, pick this up!
My rating: 3/5
Lovely War by Julie Berry
I have read a lot of books about stories of World War 2 but not many around World War 1. In The Lovely War, Aphrodite narrates two beautiful love stories that happened during World War 1 to other gods to make them realize what love is.
Hazel and James meet at party just before James must join the army to fight the war and soon fall in love. They are both scared about losing each other due to the war but make sure that they can make the most of the moments that they have together. After James goes away to fight in the war, Hazel looks for ways to help people during the war. She finds herself in France as part of the YMCA group in charge of entertainment for the soldiers. It is there that she meets Colette.
Colette is from Dinant in Belgium and she has lost everything – her love, all her family to the war. Colette and Hazel soon become good friends.
Aubrey Edwards is a gifted musician who is a part of the all African American regiment sent to Europe to fight the war. It is at the YMCA hut that he meets Colette and he is smitten by her and she likes him too.
With the war and the destruction all around, will these two love stories survive?
The writing is beautiful. Each of the four main characters are lovable and so well written about. A lot research seems to have gone into this book especially the inclusion of the all African American regiment during the War. The narration is so vivid that you’ll find yourself in between the war or feeling happy for the characters or crying with them.
The book has love stories – yes. But it isn’t your typical romance! It has all these different layers that remind you that sometimes hope is all we need to survive the toughest of times. Despite all the death and destruction, love still manages to bloom, survive and sometimes even thrive!
My rating: 5/5
The Boy, the mole, the fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy
I came across Charlie Mackesy’s Instagram and I always liked them and saved all those posts for later when I’d need to read them. When I got to know about this book, I wanted to buy it immediately. But I didn’t. The reason being that I was on a self-imposed restriction for book buying. When I posted on Instagram that if there was one book that I wanted to receive as a gift, I mentioned this book. And Soumya gifted me this lovely book for Christmas.
I had read a few pages here and there when I received it. But I hadn’t read it from cover to cover. So on the last day of February, feeling a little low, homesick and not so great because Monday was approaching, I picked this book up and I’m glad I did that!
This book is the warm hug that we need while dealing with life. Often things don’t go our way, we may not be where we wanted to be and there may be zillion things troubling us and it may become overwhelming for us. This book is reminder that it is okay, that you are good the way you are! It is like that encouraging bunch of friends who believe in you more than you believe in yourself.
This book is a must read and whenever I feel a little overwhelmed with all that is going on, I’m going to read this again.
My rating: 5/5
So these were the books that I read in February. I am really happy that most of the books have been 4 or 5 star reads. March has been going good in terms of reading. I hope I’ll put my post with the March reviews early April! In case you missed my January reads, you can find them here.
What has been your favourite read so far this year?
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