Even though February is a short month, I was able to read / listen to a total of 6 books: 3 physical and 3 audio. It wasn’t a perfect month, but I liked most of the books I read. Some of them were better than others, but what’s new? Again, I worked hard on whittling down my enormous TBR and was able to read 4 books that have been on my unread shelves for longer than a year. I also haven’t been hauling very many books lately, so my check in for The Unread Shelf Project this spring should be good (crossing my fingers!).
Without further adieu, here are the 6 books I read in February:
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan (3 Stars)
Clay Jannon is struggling to make ends meet when he stumbles upon a Help Wanted sign posted in a bookstore window. Desperate for work, he takes the job as the 24-hour bookstore’s night manager. Quickly he realizes that this isn’t your average bookstore – for one thing, the most frequent customers never buy anything. Instead, they borrow Mr. Penumbra’s, the owner, large, obscure books from the back shelves. As Clay digs into what these books are about and what the customers are doing with them, he uncovers a secret, international decoder society.
This book really tickled my nerdy librarian side. It was a fun book-inspired adventure story that simultaneously championed the integration of technology into knowledge organization (historically physical books) while also pointing out its limitations. The overall concept of the book and the nerdy bookish details really sucked me in, however the characters all fell flat – their chemistry just wasn’t there.
Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan (4 Stars)
Anna Kerrigan spent her early childhood running “errands” with her father in 1930’s New York City. When he disappears, little thought is given – afterall, husbands and fathers up and leave their families all the time. Now, years later, World War II is in full swing and Anna scores a job working in the Brooklyn Naval Yard. There she is introduced to diving and eventually becomes the first female diver in the unit. But her father’s disappearance still weighs on her and she begins to use her new freedom to cautiously investigate what might have caused him to abandon her and her mother and sister.
I suffer from thalassophobia, the fear of large bodies of water, the vast emptiness of the ocean, and being underwater, so this book was a bit of a challenge for me a lot of the time. I had to consistently remind myself that I could, in fact, breathe and no, I was not being crushed by the weight of thousands of pounds of water on top of me. However, Anna’s character was wonderful. She was independent, ambitious, and didn’t allow anyone to tell her what she could and couldn’t do. She was really the only reason I finished, and enjoyed, this book.
Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll (3 Stars)
Ani FaNelli seems to have it all: a glamorous job writing for a popular magazine, a spacious New York City apartment, and a handsome, rich fiance. But her past holds more than one secret that threatens to destroy the life she’s built for herself. As she participates in the filming of a documentary, her past secrets come to the surface prompting her to make choices that will dictate her future.
I wasn’t sure how to feel about this book and I still don’t know if I’ve completely collected my thoughts on it. The first half of the book had me believing this was a story of teenage rape and the lasting psychological effects of that trauma – definitely heavy enough for one book. But then the story exploded into so much more; I don’t want to say too much because I don’t want to ruin it for anyone who hasn’t read it yet. Trigger warnings: rape and gun violence in schools.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows (4 Stars)
In this collection of letters, we follow Juliet Ashton as she developes an unexpected friendship with the members of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Through them, she learns of their experiences during World War II when the Germans occupied the island of Guernsey.
This was a very sweet book. Juliet is strong, independent character who was a joy to follow. And despite their losses and the hardships they endured, the members of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society were a compassionate and resilient group of people. Read this book if you want a feel-good, World War II novel – a rare thing to find.
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman (4 Stars)
In this urban fantasy novel, Richard Mayhew suddenly finds himself sucked into the world of London underground; where those who have slipped through the cracks of reality exist in darkness, grime, and magic. Richard, who has lived an uneventful, almost boring life up until now, has become an integral member of a group of people intent on solving the mystery of a vicious, evil murder – and ultimately saving Neverwhere from destruction.
I really enjoyed this book. It was exciting and humorous in Gaiman’s typical fashion and the world building was wonderfully done. I find most fantasy to be just a bit cheesey, which is why I gave this book 4 stars instead of 5, but it was a solid read all around.
Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan (4 Stars)
Rich People Problems is the third and final book in Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians trilogy. In this installment, the matriarch Su Yi Young passes away leaving her large, gold-digging family to scramble for their precious inheritances. When the future of her estate, Tyersall Park, falls into the family’s hands, Nick Young and his wife Rachel spring into action to save it from being sold and developed into an elite Christian housing community.
Kwan writes some very entertaining books. His satirical take on the lives and personalities of Singapore’s mega-wealthy is equal parts engrossing and hilarious. Rich People Problems might not have been my favorite book in the trilogy but it was a solid and satisfying ending to the story.
Have you read any of these books? If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts! Happy reading! 🙂