My February 2022 in Books

I usually do this on the first day of the month. I decided to go ahead and do it today for two reasons: 1: I won’t finish another book today and 2: I’ve got nothing else in my head today(some would say that is an everyday thing)

I finished 6 books this month. One more than the month before. Still off my pace from a few years ago. I have decided to not stress about that and just accept that I have reached a point where I need a break between books.

Enough babbling. On to the books.

1. Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo

Photo from Amazon

Set in Chinatown in San Francisco in 1954 it tells the story of Lilly Hu. Lilly lives in Chinatown with her parents at the time of McCarthy and Red Scare paranoia. Lilly is also dealing with feelings she can’t quite grasp until she goes to the Telegraph Club, a lesbian bar, with her friend Kath.

I picked this one up after it won multiple awards at the ALA Youth Media Awards. It is a very good book. It was interesting to see what life would be like for Chinese Americans in the McCarthy era and how much harder it would be for a gay Chinese American. I was happy that the ending felt realistic and wasn’t a full-on Hollywood Happy ending. It was a bit long.

2. The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris

Photo from Amazon

Nella is the only Black woman working in a New York publishing company. She is excited when a new Black woman s hired, but soon Hazel is the new office darling while Nella is left behind. When someone starts leaving notes on Nella’s desk telling her to leave the company she wonders if Hazel is the one behind everything.

It took me a while to get into this one. I almost gave up on it. I decided to give it a little more time and did get to a point where I wanted to read more. I can’t really get into plot details without spoiling it. I will say that it did earn its comparison to Get Out. The end of the book as you get more into what is happening is very good. I loved the ending. The problem is that it takes too long to get there. It starts very slow and only picks up toward the middle of the book. I wish it had been better.

3. Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel in Letters by Mark Dunn

Photo from Amazon

Told in letters it is the story of the fictional island of Nollops off the coast of South Carolina. Nollops was named after Nevin Nollop, the author of the sentence “the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” When letters in the sentence on a statue honoring Nollops start to fall, the high council makes it illegal to use the fallen letters. The letters telling the story start to drop those letters as well.

This was a very quick and pleasant read. It was interesting to see the island become like a cult worshipping Nollops and banishing people who violated the new rules. It did become hard to read as more letters were dropped.

4. The Last Cuentista by Donna Barba Higuera

Photo from Amazon

A comet is about to hit Earth. Petra and her family are chosen to board one of the shuttles to a new planet. Petra’s parents want her to be a scientist like them. Petra wants to be a storyteller like her grandmother. The passengers are put in cryosleep during the hundreds of years journey. When Petra awakens she discovers a Collective has taken over the ship and wiped everyone’s memories of Earth and purged anyone who remembers. Petra is now the only human who remembers life on Earth.

This is a very interesting concept and, for the most part, the author does it well. It dragged a little in the middle and could have been a bit shorter, but the beginning and the end are very good and keep you reading.

5. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Photo from Amazon

I read this one for the local book club I just joined. It is about a shepherd boy who travels from Spain to Egypt looking for treasure near the pyramids. He meets several people along the way who help him in his quest.

I probably never would have read this if not for the book club. I didn’t even know what it was about. I’m a very bad former librarian. I liked it quite a bit. It is a very simple story, but it has such deep meaning about following your heart and the regret that can come from not following it. I wish I had read it earlier in life. Young me could have used this lesson.

6. Ain’t Burned All the Bright by Jason Reynolds and Jason Griffin

Photo from Amazon

Ain’t Burned All the Bright by Jason Reynolds – A mashup of art and text from best friends Jason Reynolds and Jason Griffin that tells the story of a Black family living in 2020 America.

It’s more art than words, but Reynold’s words still have the power they have had in all of his work. The art is beautiful. It is a quick, but powerful read.


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