Book Review: February 2016

Here are the books I’ve read so far this month:


I haven’t done the literary styling (outfits inspired by books/book covers) in a while, mostly because the books I read recently are not that inspiring or don’t lend themselves well to sartorial interpretation. This month, though, the books are quite interesting, so hopefully I can get back to doing that.

Without further ado, let’s go to the reviews.

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead:

In the fall of 1978, Miranda has no worries other than that of a twelve-year-old girl – why her best friend Sal never talks to her anymore, how to befriend the sweet Annemarie and deal with the annoying Julia, and how to help her mother prepare for a game show, The $20,000 Pyramid. It all changes when Miranda starts receiving strange notes from someone with knowledge of future events, who warns her of an imminent tragedy and asks for her assistance in preventing it.

This one is a nice surprise. It’s a middle-school book, so I didn’t think much of it at first, but it turns out to be the best of the three. Yes, technically it’s a time-travel story, but it’s not exactly sci-fi. It’s more about how Miranda navigates this mystery along with everything else going on in her life. The prose is simple but beautiful; Miranda, as well as every other character, feels very genuine, and there are some pretty profound messages too. The identity of the person that sent the notes, once revealed, didn’t surprise me, but the story is so well-written that I didn’t mind. Besides, it’s not the point anyway. 4/5

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North:

This is another time-travel story, sort of: Harry August belongs to a group of people who, upon death, is reborn as themselves, but with all knowledge of their previous life (or lives) intact. So, say you were born in 1930 and died in 2010: when you died, you would be born in 1930 again, to the same parents, and grow up more or less the same, but you would grow up knowing about the fall of the Berlin Wall and iPhones and such. Now Harry learns that one of those people is using their memories of the future to bring about the end of the world, and he must set out to stop them.

That’s an interesting premise, isn’t it? The story, sadly, doesn’t quite live up to it. It’s not bad, really, it’s just kind of slow. I also had a hard time identifying with Harry, because he’s lived through so many lives (well, 15) that he has no relatable human emotions anymore. In the end, the book just doesn’t make me care enough about him or his quest. 3/5

The Golden Age by Kenneth Grahame:

I’m currently translating A.S. Byatt’s The Children’s Book, and since this book is mentioned as the favorite of some of the characters’, I decided to check it out. Kenneth Grahame is well-known for The Wind in the Willows, but I never have any interest in reading it. This one, which is a collections of childhood stories, seems more my style – Edwardian is one of my favorite historical eras, plus I thought it would give me a break from all the dragging political and social reports in The Children’s Book. It’s a really fast read once you get past the slightly archaic prose (I don’t know if it’s because I’m not a native speaker or not, but I always find it hard to read the classics because the language is so old-fashioned) and some of the stories are cute, but it’s nothing to write home about. 2.5/5

So what have you read this month? Please share!

5 Comments on “Book Review: February 2016”

  1. Mike says:

    Aw, dang! I thought our review was next week! Sorry everyone, but I still haven’t finished my current book yet but I should have it done and ready to review by the end of the month (I’m about half way done).

    But there is another book/series that I can briefly talk about. Last week, I finished the final 3rd series book in the very long saga, “The 39 Clues” and it was outstanding! I honestly didn’t think that they could top the 2nd series as that was very good also. But the series I just finished, “Unstoppable” proved to be just as edge cutting as its predecessors. The main antagonist, J. Rutherford Pierce, discovers the family secret of the Cahill family, a serum that potentially makes whoever takes it unstoppable (hence the name of the series) and wants to use it to build an army of unstoppable men, while at the same time, tries to become the president, and eventual, dictator of the US. Amy and Dan, the two main protagonists throughout the entire saga, along with their extended family, make efforts to try and stop Pierce from completing his diabolical plans, while at the same time, avoid getting killed by Pierce’s men, who are constantly after them.

    They nearly succeed in this effort and towards the end of the series, time is of the essence as a potential suicidal act on Amy’s part in order to save Dan’s life becomes a crucial turning point as finding the antidote for the lethal serum is of the essence.

    It’s not an easy task as Pierce has proven that he is just as insane and as much as a homicidal maniac as the previous antagonists of the series were. If you choose to read this series, I guarantee that you won’t be lacking plenty of adventure, excitement, betrayal and plot twisting action as you move through these 4 exciting books.

    Again, I apologize for not being ready for this review. Things have been really crazy and I haven’t had much reading time lately, but rest assured, I won’t disappoint.
    So until next time, keep on reading!

    • This series is so popular at my library, and thanks to your review I can really see why! Kids are always asking me for exciting books, so it’s good to know that this is a series to suggest. Thanks for the review!

      • Mike says:

        You’re welcome Jane! Yes, this series, “The 39 Clues” is quite a series as it currently has 25 books published and is divided into four different sub-series. It sort of reminds me a little of “The Hunger Games” but is a bit more involved as far as character and plot development goes.
        Another series I would recommend is called “The Infinity Ring”, also published by Scholastic. It’s a lot shorter than “The 39 Clues” (only 8 books) but is very well written and it stars three kids as the protagonists as they time travel to various time periods to fix history. I highly recommend it!

  2. I read When You Reach Me awhile ago and remember enjoying it. I agree that even though it’s a YA book it’s still a good read for adults.

  3. I really enjoyed When You Reach Me, it was a nice blend of fantasy and realistic fiction, and it’s been pretty popular at the library. I actually hadn’t heard of the other two titles you shared, so I’ll have to look them up. I enjoy your book reviews, thanks for sharing them!

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