Good Books I Read in February

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Looking for some good books to read? Check out this month’s book reviews and see what you should get reading.

Good Books I Read in February - Looking for some good books to read? Check out this month's book reviews and see what you should get reading.

One of the good things about getting sick is that you have down time. About halfway through February, our family got hit with the flu. I was out of circulation for about three days, in which I did a lot of reading and watching of chick flicks.

That means I’ve got lots of book reviews to share with you this month!

I have to give credit to Life as Mom readers for several of the good reads I enjoyed this month. Two of them were mentioned in last month’s Booking It! So thank you sharing what you’re reading. It was a blessing to me this month!

I don’t have real life pictures of books to share with you since I checked all of these out for FREE via the Overdrive Library via my public library. Check to see if your library has an agreement with Overdrive. You’ll have a different selection of books than I do, based on what licenses your local library holds.

We have several library systems in our area, and I’ve kept our library card to be at just one library, since I didn’t want to worry about which books went back to which library. I’m seriously considering branching out and joining the other library system and just not checking out physical books. Win-win!

Checking out digital books — mine were all Kindle format — is a great way read books on the go for FREE. Plus, you avoid late fees. The book just disappears from your device when your checkout is expired. I’m smitten, to say the least.

You don’t have to own a Kindle to use the service. While we do own two Kindles, we also do a lot of reading on our ipads and iphones via the Kindle for iphone and Kindle for ipad apps.

I’ve been able to check out books for the whole family this way: The Martian for hubs, The Borrowers for FishChick9, and The Incorrigible Children series for FishBoy11.

Anyway, here’s what I read this month:

Good Books I Read in February

Good Books I Read in February

The Doldrums

The kids and I read The Doldrums together at the start of the month, based on Heather’s recommendation. It’s a bit of a Harry Potter/Mysterious Benedict society mash up. I had intended just to read it to my U12 crowd, but the teens heard me reading and they were hooked!

This is a great family read-aloud about a boy named Archer who’s a dreamer, to his mother’s chagrin. And let me tell you, we all get Mother of the Year awards when compared to Archer’s mom. Whooee. My kids were stunned. She’s not “abusive” in the true meaning of the word, but if ever there was a mom who didn’t even try to understand her kid, it’s she.

Archer’s grandparents are explorers; they’ve disappeared in the Antarctic. Archer is going to find them. I won’t tell you any spoilers, but know that we really enjoyed the book. Two thumbs up.

Find more of our favorite good books to read aloud as a family here.

Good Books I Read in February

The Cruelest Month

by Louise Penny

I am really torn on the Inspector Gamache books. They intrigue me and they are well-crafted, but there are some elements of the books (language and attitudes) that I’m not in step with.

The Cruelest Month is the third in the series from Louise Penny. I enjoyed all three. They are very well written and for mysteries, the author does a good job with the whodunnit. While I love the characters, I’m not completely comfortable with a whole-hearted recommendation. If I’m embarrassed by the idea of one of my teens reading it, well that could be a clue that it might be a little too racy for my blood.

These books come SO highly recommended by SO many people, it makes me wonder why I have objections that I don’t hear from other people. I’ve enjoyed the books, but not sure I can call them “must-reads”. There are lots of other good books and great mystery series out there.

Good Books I Read in February

Big Stone Gap

Thanks to Melinda for recommending Big Stone Gap. I really enjoyed it! I actually read this book twice this month, once to get the plot, and then a second time to review the hero/heroine conversations because I really loved their love story.

I also watched the movie which was a HUGE DISAPPOINTMENT, so please don’t waste your time or your $5 Amazon rental fee. Note: there are three different cover versions of this book, including the movie tie-in cover which is almost as cheesy as the money.

That said, I love the characters as they are laid out in the novel, Big Stone Gap. Apparently it’s a series — who knew? However, reading the descriptions of the other books as well as the reviews, I probably won’t read the others in the series. I want Ave Maria and Jack Mac to stay happy and good in my memory.

I knew nothing about the book when I borrowed the Kindle from the library, so I had zero expectations, however I really enjoyed it. It’s a sweet story of self-realization with a romance thrown in for good measure.

Definitely recommend it.

Good Books I Read in February


by Ernest Cline

Armada is a second novel by Ernest Cline, his first being the best seller, Ready Player One. If you are a fan of video games and/or the 80s and/or super heroes/sci fi/fantasy than you will probably love these books. Cline books are written for the inner geek. I’ve read both of them and really enjoyed them both.

While my eyes did glaze over some of the gaming aspects of Armada, I did enjoy it, particularly for its 80s movie references. I think I’ve seen almost all the movies he talked about, including War Games, Iron Eagle, and The Last Starfighter. (What would we have done without HBO back in the day?!)

I read this book in a day while I was sick, but I did skim over the very in-depth video gaming descriptions. I don’t play video games, though I was a fan once upon a time.

If you’re a gamer/superhero/Star Wars/80s fan, you will probably enjoy Armada. I was disappointed in some parts of the ending, but it was a good ride.

And one book I wouldn’t recommend….

Good Books I Read in February

I Know How She Does It (Abandoned)

by Laura Vanderkam

For years friends have tried to talk me into reading Vanderkam’s books. I decided to give this one a shot, her latest, I Know How She Does It. This is basically the antithesis of Hands Free Life that I reviewed last month. Whereas one encourages you to stop and smell the roses, this book tells you that you really can pack it all into your life and still be an awesome woman.

I didn’t read the whole book, and it’s since expired from my Kindle, so I can’t tell you how far I actually got. I wasn’t impressed. I’m a pretty driven, overachiever, but for some reason, this author and I just don’t jive, and that’s okay. Not all books are for all people, right?

So, what good books did YOU read this month?

Share your recent reads in the comments so we can get the 411 on good books to check out next!

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  1. Hi. As an avid reader with kids I’m hoping you may have some suggestions for me for my 15 year old. He loves to read, not too heavy into sci fi but enjoyed the hunger games series, divergent types. One issue we are having is finding books that aren’t too racy. We both get it, teenage love….blah blah blah. But, wow, some stories go too far! I wish I had time to read them all with or before him but that’s not possible. He has brought me a few books after only a chapter or two and said “nope, cant, too much kissy stuff”. So..any suggestions for a fellow mom???

    1. Has he read the Miss Peregrine’s (sp?) home for peculiar children series yet? Me and my daughter loved them! And I hear they are coming out with a movie version soon.

  2. So glad to see this feature back again!

    Last month, I read Enrique’s Journey, Red Scarf Girl, Still Life with Bread Crumbs, and Henry Reed, Inc. with the kids. Enrique’s Journey was hands down the best and very thought provoking.

    I’ll have to read The Doldrums with the kids and Big Stone Gap for myself. Thanks for the suggestions!

  3. I am due to read Louise Penny’s 3rd book as well, and just stalled out on them-not sure why… I like a similar series by Peter Lovesy (sp?) with the main character, Detective Diamond, the first of which is called “Diamond Solitaire.”- These are fun too, and maybe they would work for you- still detective type crime and very compelling.
    I just finished a great book by Allen Eskens- The Life We Bury- suspenseful and a good read overall.
    I absolutely love reading book recs and have a few on my blog too- My kids have benefited too, which I love! Doldrums in on my “wish list”!

  4. Thanks so much for your comments. I often find gems by reading your book reviews, and I appreciate it. The way you feel about Inspector Gamache (I haven’t read any of them) is enough to save me the trouble and/or expense of buying one to try. I would feel very uncomfortable also, for a young person to read it and think that I thought it okay! Your review very aptly describes and helped me articulate how I feel about the Maisie Hobbs series. I’ve read two of them, but decided I’ll not read any more. Thanks for articulating it.

    1. I tried to read the first one, and just couldn’t get past the language and attitude.

  5. Thank you for the periscope this morning! I’ve jotted down two books to request from our library that you mentioned! It was a good month for reading in my house, and I finished 6 books. That might be a record for me! Also, I do listen to Anne Bogel’s podcasts and they are wonderful. If you can find time to listen in, they are a treat in my week!

  6. I’ve been eyeing the Inspector Gamache series as well, but murder mysteries always worry me. I want a cozy mystery without too, too much of…you know, all the bad stuff 😉 I may still give it a try, but it will definitely be a library book!

    This month I read:

    Wonder by RJ Palacia – Loved it!

    Bossypants by Tina Fey – it was ok. This didn’t surprise me since I am extremely picky about comedy.

    The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman – My first (short) book by him. It was an interesting twist on the story, and I think I’m ready to branch out to one of his full-size novels.

    Ready Player One by Ernest Cline – Honestly I didn’t want to read this, but I had heard sooooo many good review of it. I enjoyed it much more than I anticipated, and I’m glad I read it. I don’t think I’ll read his next one though. I don’t like the 80’s THAT much 🙂

    A Man Called Ove by Frederik Bachman – A heartwarming story.

    In the Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick – The true story of the whaleship Essex which inspired Melville to write
    Moby Dick. It was interesting.

    All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven – Very well-written, but just so sad.

  7. Have you read P.G. Wodehouse? He’s early 1900s British, and so the humor is often understated. You’d probably either love him or hate him 🙂 You can find many Kindle versions for free (they have plain covers with no photos), and I’d recommending starting with something about Blandings Castle or Jeeves. He also has quite a few collections of “school” stories, which I enjoyed for a peek into life at a 1920s British prep school. Plot-wise, they’re not nearly as compelling, though. I love Wodehouse for before-bed reading. You know things are going to work out eventually, the humor (if it’s your type) is snort-inducing, and it’s easy to pick up where you left off if you fall asleep in the middle. He is a master at creating hilariously complicated plots and then extricating the characters 🙂 Thanks for the Doldrums rec–that looks intriguing!

      1. Oh good! I hoped you had! Definitely re-read 😉 I read all the free-on-Kindle ones. Trying to decide if I just need to purchase the rest of Jeeves or not. Hopefully someone else will see this and give him a try too 🙂

  8. The Doldrums sounds like a book my son would enjoy, so I’ve requested it from the library. Thanks for the recommendation.

    I finally found books that kept my attention this past month. (January was a fail in terms of reading.)

    The Small Woman by Alan Burgess is the story of Gladys Aylward, an English parlormaid who becomes a missionary in China during the 1930s. (It’s also the basis of the movie The Inn of the Sixth Happiness, although the movie made some major changes.) I really enjoyed the book, but it does deal with the atrocities of war, etc., so I don’t think I would recommend it for kids under 8th grade or so. Also, it felt like it took a little while to get going but picked up after the first couple of chapters.

    Guilty as Cinnamon by Leslie Budewitz was a fun, “cozy” mystery set in Seattle. The protagonist runs a spice shop in the Pike Place Market. It’s not quite squeaky clean, but pretty close. One caveat: Do not read this if you are hungry. 🙂 This is actually the second book in this series (now I’m reading the first one–Assault and Pepper–oh well). It’s not Agatha Christie or Ellis Peters, but it’s fun.

    Salt, Sugar, Fat by Michael Moss. I checked this out on Jessica’s recommendation. While I tend to be skeptical when anyone reduces the causes of a complex issue like the American obesity crisis to one scapegoat (the processed food industry) and limits the role of personal responsibility to the final paragraph, I still found the book to be fascinating. (It may also explain why my husband and I each lost about 30 lbs. when we drastically cut back on processed food to avoid soy–another ubiquitous ingredient in processed foods–per my oncologist’s instructions.) It made me think of The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. At any rate, I won’t look at packaged/processed food in the same way.

    1. I just checked out “Assault and Pepper” from our library. (first in the series by L. Budewitz) I read her other series, the Food Lover’s Village Mysteries in the fall when she came to speak at our library. It was fun. I’m in NW Montana now, and the series is set close to here. I knew many of the places in the book. It’s a fun, light read.

  9. My favorite book I read this last month was Better than Before by Gretchen Rubin. I really enjoyed learning more about habits and being able to figure out my tendencies and learn ways to develop better habits.

      1. I haven’t read the other two. I believe they are Happier at Home and The Happiness Project. This one I got from the library and I think it was published sometime in 2015?

  10. I LOVE Overdrive! I just got a new phone and feel in love with it. It’s how I listened to most of the books that I finished last month. I use it mainly for audiobooks to listen to in the car and not have to “bother” my kids with it. I listened to (hope this counts as reading):

    Uncommon Marriage by Lauren & Tony Dungy: I love football and specifically Tony Dungy (he was a pro football coach) so I loved this book. It’s essentially a biography of their relationship and their Christian faith. There are great men and professional sports and Tony is one of them.

    How to Talk so Kids will Listen & Listen so Kids will Talk: short, sweet and a great reminder of seeing things from a kids perspective.

    Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne: Loved it SO much. Caveat, my heart and soul were ready for this message. Payne talks about slowing down, establishing routines and reducing clutter. He is a Waldorf educator but really goes into reasoning and explanation into his beliefs.

    I love that Booking It is back but my list is getting too long! 😉

    1. I don’t think that I made it all the way through Simplicity Parenting — I think he was down on homeschoolers — but when I got past that part, I think it was helpful. It’s been awhile. haha.

  11. I love talking books. 🙂 I’ve read all the Inspector Gamache books. Great series! I also use the library for Kindle or audiobooks through Overdrive. It’s so convenient, and nice that it can be accessed anywhere with internet.

    I read (or listened to) quite a few in February between a long trip at the beginning of the month, followed by minor illnesses the rest of the month. Probably my favorite fiction this month was Mauve Binchy’s “Circle of Friends.” I love the complex characters in her books, but I have to be in the right mood to dive into her LONG books. “Station Eleven” was a book that I started before, and abandoned. I went back to it on a long plane ride, started from the beginning, and I was hooked. I finished the whole thing. I guess I needed to be in the right mood for that one, too. 🙂

    For eye candy, I would recommend “Paris in Color” by Nichole Robertson. It has TONS of pictures of Paris. I had it on Kindle, and would love to see the real book at some point.

  12. After listening to your Scope, I reaerced Big Stone Gap. Thank you for the recommendation! I’m a California girlI living in NW NC, which boards SWVA, so I enjoyed reading about the area. it was fun to ready about places I’ve heard of. Now to find a new book.