I have not done a reading wrap up post in absolutely forever. Like literally, I couldn’t tell you the last time I did one. But I did a lot of reading in February – in fact it was one of the only activities I could stomach immersing myself in whilst in a wonderful pit of depression – so I was going to make the most of that and delve into a lot of *hopefully* great books.
I regularly do my Best Books of the Year or Best Books of the First Half of the Year posts but never monthly reading wrap-ups anymore because quite honestly, I rarely read enough to fill out a whole blog post about the books I’ve read. I wish I was a faster reader. I really, really do. But for the most part, I’m just not.
Which obviously isn’t anything to be ashamed about – we all read at different paces. There’s no gold medal for the amount of books you can read in a month or how quickly you can read them. I just wanted to point that out, in case anyone reading this is also a slow reader and feeling bad about it.
But anyway, in February I went to the library a LOT and I read a lot of YA Fiction. I love YA, it’s my favourite genre but it’s also a lot easier to read and I can typically get through YA books faster than any others. Give me a Historical Fiction and it’ll take me the best part of 6 months to read it. That’s why I’m so daunted at the prospect of ever reading The Lord of the Rings…
So let’s have a look at the books I read in February and a few thoughts on what I made of them!
All the Things We Never Said by Yasmin Rahman
16-year-old Mehreen Miah’s anxiety and depression, or ‘Chaos’, as she calls it, has taken over her life, to the point where she can’t bear it any more. So she joins MementoMori, a website that matches people with partners and allocates them a date and method of death, ‘the pact’. Mehreen is paired with Cara Saunders and Olivia Castleton, two strangers dealing with their own serious issues.
As they secretly meet over the coming days, Mehreen develops a strong bond with Cara and Olivia, the only people who seem to understand what she’s going through. But ironically, the thing that brought them together to commit suicide has also created a mutually supportive friendship that makes them realise that, with the right help, life is worth living. It’s not long before all three want out of the pact. But in a terrifying twist of fate, the website won’t let them stop, and an increasingly sinister game begins, with MementoMori playing the girls off against each other.
A pact is a pact, after all.
In this powerful debut written in three points of view, Yasmin Rahman has created a moving, poignant novel celebrating life. ALL THE THINGS WE NEVER SAID is about friendship, strength and survival.
I really enjoyed this book and loved how open and honest the dialogue was about mental illness. Although I would say, take some MAJOR trigger warnings for mental illness, depression, suicide, SH, anxiety, abuse and r*pe for this one. I think you could probably guess from the blurb that it’s not going to be a particularly light read.
Saying that, there were some really important moments and messages within this book; especially among the three girls and friendship. It really does show the power of friendship and support and having people around you that understand and don’t judge. A really interesting premise – but certainly not suitable for everyone.
The Memory Thieves by Darren Simpson
What you don’t remember can’t hurt you…
Cyan has lived at the Elsewhere Sanctuary for as long as he can remember, freed by Dr Haven from dark memories of his past life. But when Cyan finds a mysterious warning carved into the bones of a whale skeleton, he starts to wonder what he had to forget to be so happy.
New resident, Jonquil, begins to resist the sanctuary’s treatment, preferring to hold on to her memories – even the bad ones. So when Dr Haven resorts to harsher measures, Cyan embarks on a secret mission to discover the truth about the sanctuary… and himself.
I really enjoyed this and absolutely flew through it. It was *very* teen but I guess that’s why I liked it. I just needed something fairly quick and easy to read but that didn’t take away anything from the story for me.
I feel like The Memory Thieves would make a really good movie, it was really atmospheric with captivating imagery and also conjures up some important and thought-provoking questions. I thought the concept was really interesting – the young people going to The Sanctuary for their memories of the trauma in their lives to be erased but at what cost?
Nowhere On Earth by Nick Lake
It starts with a plane crash.
There are survivors: a teenage girl and her little brother. They are running from something. But what?
Then the men arrive. They are hunting the girl and boy. And-
And that’s all we can tell you…
I absolutely ADORED this book. It so wasn’t what I was expecting when I went into it but I think sometimes, that’s the best thing. When you’re completely caught off guard. I won’t spoil anything with this one but I’d just recommend reading it.
I loved the setting of the mountains, the relationship between the two main characters and the utterly beautiful, almost poetic prose at times. This book really made me think; it got quite deep in it’s meaning towards the end and it was right up my street.
Bigger Than Us by Fearne Cotton
Find the wisdom for a better life.
In her brand-new book, Fearne Cotton seeks out the insight and advice of wise minds to explore what they can teach us to achieve happiness, connection and hope.
Fearne weaves her own journey of discovery and personal stories with the deep knowledge, ancient practices and emotional tools of renowned spiritualists and thought leaders. With their help, she peels back layers of anxiety and self-limiting beliefs to find contentment and deeper meaning.
Down-to-earth and relatable, Bigger Than Us is divided into three universal lessons that we can all learn, no matter who we are or what we believe: love, awareness and communication.
From intuition and energy to the law of attraction, ritual, prayer and signs, Fearne explores positive ideas and exercises that are available to every single one of us.
Bigger Than Us is for anyone seeking a path through our confusing lives and offers inspiration for tapping into the strength and comfort around us and releasing the blocks and insecurities that hold us back.
I love Fearne Cotton so I was excited to read this. The majority of this book I enjoyed; I really loved her way of connecting with us throughout this book and I did feel like I picked this book up at the exact right time I needed it.
I think the main thing that I couldn’t get my head around was the interview she did with Rhonda Byrne, author of The Secret. Some of the things Rhonda said just didn’t sit right with me. I haven’t read The Secret but my own relationship with manifestation has changed somewhat over the last few years so I wasn’t aligned with this part of the book.
SLAY by Brittney Morris
By day, seventeen-year-old Kiera Johnson is a college student, and one of the only black kids at Jefferson Academy. By night, she joins hundreds of thousands of black gamers who duel worldwide in the secret online role-playing card game, SLAY.
No one knows Kiera is the game developer – not even her boyfriend, Malcolm. But when a teen in Kansas City is murdered over a dispute in the SLAY world, the media labels it an exclusionist, racist hub for thugs.
With threats coming from both inside and outside the game, Kiera must fight to save the safe space she’s created. But can she protect SLAY without losing herself?
I’ve rated SLAY 5 stars before I’ve even finished the book – I absolutely LOVED IT. I read The Cost of Knowing by Brittney Morris last year and enjoyed it but it wasn’t one of my absolute favourites of the year but SLAY. Wowzers.
SLAY is a firecracker of a novel. The main character, Kiera, is fantastic. Intellectually brilliant. She creates a whole Virtual Reality game – SLAY – for black people to enjoy and come to duel with others and allow them a space to feel seen with their shared histories. It’s so gripping. Likely a favourite of 2022 for me!
So those were the books I read in February. I thoroughly enjoyed delving into my YA novels last month; there’s a small section of the library specifically for YA so I’ll definitely be heading there more in the coming months!