February 2024 Books – Part 4

Starling House by Alix E. Harrow

I enjoyed Harrow’s The Ten Thousand Doors of January and when this became the Reading Glasses book club pick, I thought I would enjoy it. I wish I liked this book more. I didn’t dislike it and I read it quickly. This was well written and I did like the characters. I liked the illustrations and I think it’s objectively a good novel. I tried but I don’t like a lot of horror. It isn’t scary so much as I don’t enjoy creepy, dark tones in novels. It was not even darkly funny enough since Opal and her brother were realistically very poor. As someone who likes fantasy, magical realism, and a sentient house, the fantasy elements were alright but not enough to cover the dark tone. I almost rushed to finish it just so that I could be done with it. I don’t blame the book because I understand why it is good. It reminded me that I don’t really like haunted houses or dark horror. Still a good book if you enjoy horror and haunted houses.

Setting: Kentucky, USA.

Read on Kindle. Feb 17, 2024.

My Picture Diary by Fujiwara Maki

This is a visual diary manga from 1981 about a former actor who has become a housewife. It details her days with her toddler son and her depressed husband. It had many slice of life moments but it also had a lot of more bleak moments of poverty and marital problems. It ended on a lighter note at least. The style of it was interesting since Maki was able to really make do with very simple drawings and words. I wish she had written more before she passed in 1999.

Setting: Tokyo, Japan.

Feb 18, 2024.

Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan

My first Claire Keegan. A sad yet satisfying Christmas novella. I went in not knowing it was about Christmas or the Magdalene laundries in Ireland. I remember how haunting the movie was and it angered me. Beautiful writing. Great character work. Can’t wait to read from Keegan.

Setting: Dublin, Ireland.

Feb 18, 2024.

All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot

Read by Nicolas Ralph. It seems like I am going through early twentieth century English memoirs. After the Diary of a Provincial Lady, I decided to stay in the same era. I have wanted to try this classic for years and the new narration is great. It was lighthearted and fun. There were some mildly annoying clients and characters, but the writing and beauty of the setting. It was 15 hours but I went through it quickly because I got addicted to listening to it. In the last month, I’ve switched to listening to more audiobooks than podcasts.

Setting: Yorkshire, UK.

1.25x. February 15-20, 2024.

The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen

Lovely, beautiful YA graphic novel about a boy and his mother sharing fairy tales. As usual, I’m a sucker for fantasy mixed with coming of age and East Asian emmigration stories. The ending left me verklempt.

Setting: USA.

Feb 24, 2024.

Recovery: The Lost Art of Convalescence by Gavin Francis

Read by the author. A very short audiobook meditating on modern ideas of convalescence and healing. I heard the author speak about his book on an NPR podcast. His Scottish accent made this a good and interesting listen. It was not as light hearted but reflective and useful as I am interested in health.

1.25x. Feb 19-23, 2024.

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