Right, so - I did not meet my target this month.
Part of that is my fault (budgetary constraints meant that I had to abandon 3 of the newer releases I wanted to read as I couldn't quite justify getting ahold of copies this month); part of it is the fault of Bookshop for having copies of the book I wanted on backorder despite it being brand new so it's not like everybody had even bought them yet; and part of it is that I didn't read anything at all in the first week of February as I was A) hospitalized and then B) recovering from said hospitalization by alternating naps in bed with naps on the couch in front of the rugby and/or crappy television, and making my housemate take care of me (and then I hit another slump in the last week of this month because work was, well, nightmarish and I compensated by watching a lot of sports instead of reading).
But - of the 11 books I did manage to get through, there was only one dud! So I'm still calling it a successful month of reading for me.
As ever, please read on for my full February wrap-up.
Best book of the month: A tie! 1) Frère d'âme. A gorgeous, gorgeous book. I have no notes. and 2) Fake Accounts. Hilarious, meta, cutting - a book I thoroughly enjoyed reading and will be recommending a lot this year.
Most enjoyable book of the month: A Tip for the Hangman. Enjoyable, fun, funny. Wish the plot had been a bit stronger and Kit Marlowe's crises of faith a bit less repetitive.
Most 'pleasant surprise' book of the month: A Curious History of Sex. Fascinating and hilarious - every paragraph was a delight to read. I wasn't expecting this to be as enjoyable and fun to read as it was, nor was I expecting to learn quite as much as I did (I have a lot of fun new slang that I look forward to trying to seduce my sex support bubble with).
Most disappointing book of the month: The Heiress Gets a Duke. This was blurbed by Evie Dunmore, and so I had very high expectations, but it was just... awkward writing, bad characters, and only one sex scene (though it was a very hot sex scene, so that just saves it from being the worst book of the month). Skip this one and read Martha Waters instead.
Worst book of the month: Amnesty. It wasn't a bad book, I'm just not the reader for it - and it suffers for being the book I least enjoyed reading in a month of some stellar reads. Sorry, Amnesty.
The Heiress Gets a Duke (1★/5), by Harper St. George: An interesting premise with lots of potential, but ultimately a crap book and an author that I was disappointed enough in that I do not think I will be revisiting. Reviewed here.
The House on Vesper Sands (4.6★/5), by Paraic O'Donnell: A lovely, lovely book - I loved the unreality of it, the lilting lyricism of the prose, how the entirety of the novel felt like a very creepy walk through the woods where you never know what's real and what is a trick of your own mind and false perceptions. The story was also really interesting too, although I wish we could have spent a bit more time with the big reveal, since the ending did feel a bit rushed. I also adored the characters, and the ambiguity of the relationships between them at the end of the book, but the hopefulness that suffuses the entirety of the way they move forward after the resolution. I think this book would make a great television series - and I enjoyed O'Donnell's writing so much I'm already trying to track down a secondhand copy of his first book. Highly, highly recommend for anybody who wants an eerie, creepy, amazingly well-written Victorian mystery with Gothic elements to it.
The Coyotes of Carthage (4.5★/5), by Steven Wright: An enjoyable, gripping political thriller with a great (nuanced, flawed, terrible... but still great fun) central character. Highly recommend. Reviewed here.
Frère d'âme, by David Diop (5★/5), by David Diop: A gloriously written, difficult book that I praise effusively here.
A Tip for the Hangman (3.5★/5), by Allison Epstein: Doesn't quite live up to expectations, but is still a good, fun read that I very much enjoyed, and I'm intrigued enough to want to read more by this debut author. I've reviewed it here.
Cotillion (4★/5), by Georgette Heyer: It was enjoyable, it was sparkly, it was fun - no sex, since this was written in the 1950s, but I enjoyed the period details and the sheer bonkersosity of the plot, and I have added quite a few other Georgette Heyer Regency Romances into my online basket, so obviously she did something that appealed to me. A good palate cleanser before getting into some more serious contemporary novels, and I think I'll be using the other ones I read as precisely that.
Amnesty (2★/5), by Aravind Adiga: Look, I don't like Hamlet stories. It really annoys me when the entire plot of a novel is 'Central Character Can't Make Up His Mind'. All right, yes, Danny is in a bit of a pickle - if he reports what he knows about a murder, the murderer will turn him in as an illegal immigrant and he will be deported back to Sri Lanka where he was tortured by police - but Jesus Christ, Danny, why did you call the man you suspected of being a murderer in the first place? And, I'm really sorry, but if even Shakespeare's poetry couldn't make up for five acts of Hamlet waffling about, then I was never going to like this book. Strong writing, though.
Fake Accounts (5★/5), by Lauren Oyler: A hilariously well-written, pitch-perfect satirical critique of twenty-first century living. Reviewed here.
Members Only (4.5★/5), by Sameer Pandaya: This was described to me as satire, but I'm not quite sure where the satire was. It was actually really heart-wrenching and difficult to read, although the narrator's internal monologue was brilliantly funny and really livened up the relentless grimness with some excellent sarcasm. Some lovely writing and a wonderful read, though - do highly recommend.
A Lady's Formula for Love (2.5★/5), by Elizabeth Everett: It was fine. I enjoyed it. Lots of sex, but the sex was a bit too clinical to be properly arousing. Nothing earth-shattering here, but I will be reading the following books in the series (the big villain reveal was a bit... rushed and weird) and hoping that Everett grows more comfortable as a writer.
A Curious History of Sex (5★/5), by Dr Kate Lister: A hilarious, extremely informative book. I loved every paragraph and will be recommending this to everyone who needs an interesting, yet still fun nonfiction. Might even be in contention for my Top 10 of 2021 list, so enjoyable was this to read.
Some of my other anticipated February reads I'm going to roll over to later months of this year, so do stay tuned for those planned reviews.
There you have, it folks - as ever, let me know which of these sparked your interest, and which of these you virulently disagree with me on.