February Features – Hannah

*A few reviews and recommendations from my last four weeks of reading.

Here we are, a little past mid-February and I have somehow read 25 books with three more coming to a close later this week. I do find that in the beginning of the year there is a ferocity to my reading that wanes as Spring arrives. 

As a midwesterner and a Minnesotan throughout my adulthood, the first months of the year are tough. The winter has settled in, the cold, no matter how high I turn the heat, continues to penetrate to the bone and we anxiously await the next storm of snow, ice or rain. Honestly, it’s a perfect formula for reading. Curling up for hours under quilts in heated mattress pad beds with a warm cup of coffee or tea all day long seems like the best way to wait out winter.  

So if you too are finding yourself hunkering down for another storm, or just need inspiration as you choose your next, or first book of 2022, here are some thoughts based on what I read these last few weeks ;).

#1 Feature

If you asked me in the last year for a recommendation I most likely said, “The House in the Cerulean Sea” by TJ Kline. It is a wonderful, character driven tale I highly recommend. Enter Kline’s second book, “Under the Whispering Door,” my first recommendation of 2022. Kline creates an imaginative transition from life to death which provides the backdrop to this story of love, life and knowing what is important. Kline plays on an Ebenezer Scrooge story arch, not through Christmas, but through death itself. The cast of characters is smaller than in his first novel, but Kline continues to offer representation, fully flushed out characters and an imaginative setting in which his characters shift and grow. I found it a delightful read, though I am sure for some the ever present theme of death may be problematic. 

Least Favorite Read

Out of these first few weeks of reading in 2022, I wouldn’t recommend picking up “Bitterblue” by Kristin Cashore, unless you are a hardcore Graceling Realm fan. I was underwhelmed by this book though it wasn’t bad, but just not as intriguing or exciting as “Graceling.” If you are a huge lover of the world, this book is worth your time and attention, but if you are a passing enthusiast, such as myself, I would give this book and its 500+ pages a pass and find another universe to occupy your time.

Wild Cards

And lastly, a couple of Wild Card Features. I have two this month.  Neither is fiction and both are well worth your time, in my opinion.  

The first is “Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, & You” by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi. Basically, this is the YA version of Kendi’s “Stamped from the Beginning,” which is an incredible tome of history and understanding of race through time. As I am not a fan of long books, this was an excellent alternative and Reynolds’s voice and articulation of this history for the younger, or at least less persistent audience, was engaging and informative.

My second wild card is the newly published book of poetry, “Call Us What We Carry” by Amanda Gorman. I am still thinking about these poems weeks later and blown away by both the content and form of her works. Even for those who are not poetry people, this is a book you could get into. Every poem may not work for you, but I think you will find a few nuggets of intrigue to capture your imaginative soul.

That’s what I have for these first weeks of 2022 and I hope you are able to find some inspiration.

Happy Reading!
Hannah

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