Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Monthly Reads: Februrary 2018

Links under books are Affiliate links. ARCs clearly defined in accordance with review policy here


I read 10 books in February, so I'll get straight to them!

All of the covers below are clickable, and should take you to my longer review on Goodreads. Add me as a friend there if you use it! 

Books I Received for Review

I didn't receive any physical books in February, but I did read three from Netgalley:


From a Low and Quiet Sea by Donal Ryan (Published March 22nd)
Donal Ryan's fourth full-length book follows the stories of three very different men who are all connected in some way. Farouk, along with his wife and child, is trying to escape his war-torn homeland. Lampy feels like he's getting left behind while all his friends move on in their lives. John is coming towards the end of his life and looking back over his regrets. I always feel, when reading anything by Donal Ryan, like someone has welcomed me in, given me a big blanket and a cup of tea, then snuck up behind me to rip my soul out. This is no different - it's gripping, haunting, and addictive.
Buy: Kindle | Book Depository

The Fear by C.L. Taylor (Published March 22nd)
Louise Wandsworth was in the news aged 14 when her karate instructor, Mike, groomed and abducted her. Now years later, Louise is back in her hometown - and she thinks Mike is grooming another young girl. I enjoyed this a lot, I'm a fan of this author anyway but this was one of her better ones.
Buy: Kindle | Book Depository

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert
As luck would have it, I was approved for this less than 24 hours after I bought it. It's a modern day fairytale about a young woman who, along with her mother, has been trying to outrun bad luck for as long as she can remember. All Alice knows about her mysterious grandmother Althea Prosperine is that she's a reclusive author, but when word arrives that Althea has died, Alice is thrown into a dangerous world that will question everything she thought she knew about her family. I enjoyed this, though I  liked the first half more than the second. Fans of Caraval may enjoy.
Buy: Kindle | Book Depository

Books I Borrowed

I made good use of the library in February, and borrowed four books:


Angels in the Moonlight by Caimh McDonnell
This was a Rick O'Shea Book Club pick for February. Incidentally, there are now four monthly picks over at the ROSBC (you'll find them all on my Books 2018 page). I'm trying to read as many as possible this year, because they are usually books I wouldn't choose for myself. 
This is one I definitely wouldn't have picked - it's a sort of Lethal Weapon-esque romp around Dublin set in 1999, based around Detective Bunny McGarry and his squad. There's gangland criminals, a woman with a dangerous past, nuns, and....hurling. I enjoyed it, and I really didn't think I would. 

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Another ROSBC pick. This is a story about one day in the life of Ivan, a prisoner in a Gulag in the 1950s. Although Ivan is fictional, the author himself spent 8 years imprisoned in a similar labour camp for political crimes, so there's a very raw realness about it. 


Montpelier Parade by Karl Geary
A third ROSBC pick that I managed to get my hands on in February (they fly out of the library when they're announced every month) - this is a beautiful debut novel about an unconventional relationship. Set in Dublin in the 80s, Sonny is a young teenager who always seems to be in trouble. Vera is a glamorous, unattainable, older English woman. Secrets, solace, and a nod to Sonny Knowles. Magic. 

My Story by Joanne Hayes
When Joanne Hayes and the "Kerry Babies" tragedy came to the forefront of the news again recently, I requested this. It's her story, in her own words, about what happened. It doesn't make for easy or pleasant reading - mainly because of the subject matter and the utter contempt with which Joanne and her family were treated with - but also because parts of it are still applicable in 2018. We've come far as a country in some ways, but in others - not nearly far enough. This is out of print, but is available to request at the library. 

Books I Bought

Two of these were free, via the BookBub daily email.


Promise to Marry by Jessica Wood
I have a few favourite "guilty pleasure" (if  you use that term, I make no apologies whatsoever for liking what I like) tropes that I can't resist: Boarding School Drama, High School Reunion, The Childhood Pact, The Body Swap and The Fake Girlfriend. This came under The Childhood Pact umbrella (and it was free): Jax and Chloe made a pact as kids that if they weren't married by the age of 30, they'd marry each other. Roll on to Chloe's 30th and she is no longer speaking to Jax, her boyfriend is a dick, and she's not in a good place. This is a short novella, book one in a trilogy. I've no desire to continue because the ending was just ridiculous, but it wasn't the worst thing I've ever read. That award goes to.....

Three Nights With a Rock Star by Amber Lin and Shari Slade
Sometimes I look at reviews and think - surely, it couldn't be THAT bad, could it? This was free, and while I saw an awful lot of poor reviews, my curiosity was peaked enough to click. Chloe is pregnant after a summer working on tour with a rock band, Half Life. She does not want to tell the father. So, instead of, oh maybe - trusting Chloe to make her own judgements, her older sister/guardian Hailey up and leaves. Dressed as a "rock chick", Sunday School teacher Hailey abandons her moral compass and crashes a hotel party where she knows the band will be. She isn't there too long before she's banging the worlds angriest horniest man up against a window after signing a pact agreeing to be "his" for a weekend in order to gain access to his crew to ask about Chloe's Baby Daddy. There's a very, very weird threesome with a bandmate, some family drama, and Chloe's story running alongside. Just...........no. I needed a wash after it. I'm still trying to locate my eyeballs after they rolled away. 
Buy (at your own peril): Kindle 

Still Me by JojoMoyes
Thank heavens for Louisa Clark - this was by far my most enjoyable read of February. I adored Me Before You, I disliked After You, and I was nervous about this one. Would it be worse? Would it redeem the whole series? I needn't have worried, it's a return to form and a return to the old Louisa we all know and love. She's working in New York City for a family that are worlds apart from the Traynors. Her love of fashion is back, her love of life is back, and Will's presence is done just perfectly - not overdone, not cheese, just right. I absolutely loved it (could have done without the predictable Katie arc, though, to be honest) and I didn't want it to end. I got some Devil Wears Prada vibes off this one too, I'd be interested to know if anyone else felt the same. 

I ticked three prompts off my Popsugar Reading Challenge list:

* A novel based on a real person: Joanne Hayes, My Story.
* A book set in a country that fascinates you: Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. 
* The next book in a series you started: Jojo Moyes, Still Me.

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