Monday, February 27, 2023

Mini Book Reviews: February 2023

Disclaimer: I received an ARC of  Commitment from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for my review. This post contains affiliate links. 

In books as in life, you win some, you lose some. I read 2 disappointing books this month. Both of them were quick reads, so I stuck it out, finishing them both. There was a big, fun surprise on my TBR from 2020 that had me asking myself why it took me so long to pick it up. Last but not least was Jenna's pick for January, a book that started out meh but made me smile as I read the last lines. I love when a book redeems itself! 



Call me disappointed. The cover drew me in. The way the publisher promoted this one, I expected Feral to be a recounting of one woman's journey to visit all of the National Parks. I expected gritty details of van life. Maybe even some self-discovery along the way. Feral provides all of that. But what I didn't expect was a tale of grief over a failed relationship. In fact, it felt as if the National Parks were background noise to the story of the author's loss. There wasn't much of a connection between the two storylines--the parks and the relationship. Maybe I was hoping for more of a Cheryl Strayed vibe here, but instead, I was glad for her journey to be over. I'd give anything to take a trip like this and you know I'd savor every moment in the parks!


It took a lot of commitment to stick with and finish this book, but I am so glad I did! Commitment is an epic, coming-of-age story about 3 siblings whose mother succumbs to mental illness and is committed to a mental institution while they are all quite young. The commitment was supposed to be temporary, but she never does come home. A friend of the mother's commits to raising the 3 kids and they become her life. Yes, the theme of commitment is woven throughout the story, extending to the 2 older children who struggle to commit to post-secondary education. The youngest bears most of the brunt of his mother's illness and the older siblings commit to helping him through his issues. The 3 siblings are also committed to their mother and their stand-in mother. This is a deep, immersive read that will stick with you for a long time. I'm still processing the magic of the author's storytelling. Not only is she a prolific wordsmith, but in Commitment, she spins a story that makes the reader feel as if part of the background. Highly recommended! 
To be published March 21, 2023.

I was really disappointed by Small World. The story of two divorced 50-something sisters who move in together sounded right up my alley. The women begin to reacquaint themselves and reflect on their childhood, including growing up with a sister who had special needs and took a lot of their mother's attention. They also have to deal with some really annoying upstairs neighbors, which I found to be an unnecessary distraction. At the end of each chapter was a poem, also another distraction. Having a 50-something sister myself, I had high hopes for this one. But it was just meh for me. Maybe my sister and I wouldn't be good characters for a book either!



What a fun read! We all read books for different reasons and when my library e-reader went offline, I dug into my trusty Kindle TBR and picked this one. It was just the diversion I needed. In a nutshell, Becoming Duchess Goldblatt is a memoir, narrated by an anonymous author who created the character of Duchess Goldblatt and her Twitter account. The author was struggling with loneliness and grief and the Duchess was a bright light. She was also kind of snarky and I laughed out loud multiple times while reading this book.  Her tweets are interspersed throughout the narrative and they are hilarious. Duchess brought many fans into her life including Lyle Lovett. That was kind of a fun twist for me because I'm a long-time fan of his as well. Do yourself a favor and read this one!


This one gave me all the feels...but not right away. Sam is a coming-of-age story that starts out with Sam as a young girl, living with her mom who makes bad choices in men, and her younger brother, whose father is abusive and immature. Her mom works 2 jobs to make ends meet and Sam is responsible for her younger brother. As Sam matures and loses that childhood innocence, she begins to question the choices her mother made as well as the goals her mother has for her. At first, I wondered if I picked up a YA novel because the narrative starts out very basic and simple. Truthfully, I considered DNSing this one. But as I kept reading and Sam matured, so did the narrative. Her thoughts grew deeper and more introspective. The story became much more immersive and deep. I really began to enjoy this book and I loved the choices Sam began to make. I finished with a smile on my face and a feeling of satisfaction. This would be a great book club read!

Have you read anything good lately? Do you have books you want to read--on your Kindle, like me? Have you ever started a book and stuck with it even though you didn't care much for it?

I'm linking up with Kim and Zenaida for Tuesday Topics.


18 comments :

  1. I can see how "Sam" can grow on you. Nice that you were rewarded for sticking to it and thanks for the great summary!

    I have a book on my night stand that I want to start today: ""The Girl who Saved the King of Sweden" by Jonas Jonasson. It's about a young poor South African girl called Nombeko. She ended up working as a cleaning lady for a prominent engineer who discovered that she was brilliant with numbers. And so the story unfolds. I'll let you know if it was a good read!

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  2. Oh that would have annoyed me about Feral as well. I get so cross that these days, you can't write a travel or nature book without dragging in your divorce or bereavement, etc. I'd rather have the straight narrative, I'm afraid! I read some good ones this month, the only disappointment was "Must Love Books" and that was actually OK, just not wonderful. Alexis Keir's "Windward Family" and of course Alison Mariella D├ęsir's "Running While Black" were the highlights for me.

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    1. I loved Running While Black--her accomplishments aside, probably one of the best books on race and racism that I've read.

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  3. Ooh, I love book reviews! I recently finished Central Places which I read about in your last month book reviews (and I enjoyed it.)
    When I was younger I used to read a lot of classics (not so much anymore.) I read Middlemarch, and the first half of the book was a total slog. Somehow I kept reading, and the end of the book was so moving that I cried. So I always think of that if I'm tempted to DNF a book.

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  4. Oh, I read Becoming Duchess ... a while ago. It was fun. Bummer on Feral.

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    1. I was so happy to find Becoming Duchess! I need to dig into that Kindle and read more of those older books.

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  5. Love your reviews. Just finished Trust (and kinda liked it but not as much others did) and read a few easy reading mindless stuff.

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    1. I've heard it was good--but like you, I need some mindless fun stuff. Plus I have a few running books to get through.

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  6. Of all of these, would probably pick "sam". I just got "Someone else's shoes" and I am excited to get into it. Thanks for the review

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  7. Hmm, not sure which book I would read first, but I am wiling to read them all. Thanks for the book reviews!

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  8. I just finished Mad Honey, by Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Finney Boylan. I thought it was great!! Had a bit of a twist I didn't see coming. Reading the Lost Apothecary now. It's interesting so far.

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    1. I didn't care much for Mad Honey. Glad to hear you liked it.

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  9. I always look forward to your book reviews :) That's a bummer about Feral! It's so annoying when something is marketed one way, but then turns out to be different that expected.

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