Spell the Month in Books | February

Lisa @ANZLit Lovers alerted me to this meme. She found it at Jennifer’s Tasmanian Bibliophile at Large who found it over at Jana’s Reviews From the Stacks.

I’m currently reading (way too many) books at once, but haven’t finished any of them yet. Perhaps this weekend. In the meantime I thought I’d give this a try to fill a posting gap and revisit some old friends.

February is my birthday month, so I have always felt a great deal of fondness for this little month of 28 days. In Australia it is back-to-school time which somehow also coincides with the hottest week of summer! For the first forty years of my life, this cycle dominated my life – first as a student, then as a teacher.

In booksellers land though, February is our quiet month. The busy bustle of the summer holidays are finally over and we catch our breath briefly before revving up again for Easter, Mother’s Day and the next school holiday break.

Socially, February is one of my busiest months of the year. It’s not only my birthday, but a vast number of family members too, including my Dad who turns 80 next week. A handful of dear friends also celebrate their special days in February. My world is populated with Aquarians and Pisces!

No wonder I haven’t finished any books this month!

Jana often includes a theme to add an extra spice to the challenge – this month it is to pick covers with RED or PINK tones. I chose RED.


Anthony Quinn’s Freya

Freya | Anthony Quinn

I read Freya in manuscript form, which is not something I do a lot of these days. Back in 2016 I described the book as a coming-of-age story and a great holiday read.

Freya worked as a Wren during WWII. At the end of war celebrations she meets up with a young woman, Nancy, who becomes her best friend through all the trials and joys of the subsequent years at Oxford and in London as a journalist.

Quinn writes an easy-to-read, easy-to-believe friendship (despite a few writerly conveniences).


Exit West | Mohsin Hamid

A refugee story with magical doors. Sparsely written, tight prose, pared back, yet I was hooked from the first door.

“Once I got over the unexpected shock of the first door, I liked this device a lot. It took the journey out of the story and made it instead, a story about the gradual disintegration into chaos and war of a once civilised society. And a story about adjusting to a new place – a new place that may not be exactly welcoming.


The Burgess Boys | Elizabeth Strout

This was the book that got me started with Elizabeth Strout. Since reading this in 2013 I have read the two Olive Kitteridge stories and all four Lucy Barton books. Various characters in The Burgess Boys have had cameo appearances in these other books.

I think what appealed to me most though, was Strout’s ability to see the good side of people and situations. She didn’t ignore or gloss over the bad stuff, she simply chose to see everything and everyone with kindness and goodwill. It was a heartening experience.


The Red-Haired Woman | Orhan Pamuk

My first time with Orhan Pamuk and I was underwhelmed.

Wrapped up in Cem’s story were two ancient stories about fathers and son. The first was the well-known story of Oedipus, a mythical Greek hero who accidentally fulfils a prophecy by killing his father and marrying his mother. The second story was not as familiar to me – the story of Sohrab, a Persian warrior who was killed unknowingly by his father, Rostam, in a duel.

This meant that there were no surprises for the reader at the end. It was all about how we got there.


Use Your Imagination | Nicola O’Byrne

I’ve had to resort to an early review of a children’s picture book to find a ‘U’ title with some red on the cover.

I’ve always loved fractured fairytales, especially when the underdog, or under rabbit in this case, turns the tale on its head. Imagination is the key.


The Arsonist | Chloe Hooper

In 2009 a tragic fire event raged through northern Victoria that become known as Black Saturday. 173 people died. The fire was longer than just the one day and involved multiple locations, but most of the devastation occured on 7th February.

Hooper’s book focused on the Churchill fire that was started by an arsonist. Ten people died in this fire. The arsonist was sentenced to 18 years with non parole period of 14.

Hooper takes the time to get know the back stories for some of the detectives, the lawyers as well as the arsonist and his family. And in Helen Garner-esque style, she leads the reader towards feelings of compassion for the arsonist and his family.”


A Rightful Place: A Road Map to Recognition edited by Shireen Morris

A collection of essays discussing The Uluru Statement from the Heart and what it means for our constitution.

The book blurb says the various authors will consider the ins and outs of “a political voice, a fairer relationship and a renewed appreciation of an ancient culture. With remarkable clarity and power, they traverse law, history and culture to map the path to change.


You’re Still Hot To Me | Jean Kittson

I’ve been reading books on perimenopause since 2015. This was the first one.

I’d been experiencing various signs & symptons for at least a year or so but had no idea they might be related. It wasn’t until an older friend suggested it might be menopause that I began to connect the dots.

Jean Kittson is a comedienne who told her own story plus all the facts with humour and grace. Thanks to her book I finally felt understood and prepared for what was happening to my body. She also reminded me to have a good laugh about it along the way. A timely reminder for right now!

PS. I should have explained that all the books on my list came from old reviews. In particular I tried to use reviews from my Blogspot days so that I could use this as an excuse to WordPress-ise another 8 old posts.

19 thoughts on “Spell the Month in Books | February

  1. A complex challenge, but cleverly completed! And Happy Birthday wishes for whenever it arrives! (Thank goodness your birthday isn’t / wasn’t 29th February, that’d be just too weird…)


  2. I found books….all by Aussie writers! Fire Front (S. Whittaker) – Vertigo (A. Lohery) – Where the Fruit Falls (K. Wyld) – The Carbon Club (M. Wilkinson) – The Lucky Laundry (N. Lynch) – Lowitja (S. Rintoul) – Say No To Death (D. Cusack) – Red Zone (P. Hartcher)…and I read them all!
    Thanks for this post…it was a “fun thing” to do and took my mind off things. Oh, course last words are: Van Harte Gefeliciteerd met jouw verjaardag van NL!! (Happy birthday)

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I have never forgotten his non-fiction work, Istanbul. So good. And I did enjoy Snow (reviewed on my blog), but my first Pamuk, My name is red, I couldn’t get into, which I’ve always felt was to do with the time I was reading it. However, I probably won’t get back to it now, as I’ve moved on to so many other books I really want to read.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Happy birthday! I also have a birthday in February, a good month to be born. Although, of course, here it is winter. Maybe that is why I always loved the winter. That was in the old days though, when there was snow in the winter. These days you never know, at least in the south of Sweden.
    I also tend to read several books at the same time. Sometimes it feels you never finish a book. But then, voilà, all of a sudden you finish rather many within a couple of days.
    Great meme with the month spelling. I am not familiar with the books, but Pamuk is on my list.


    1. Happy Birthday to you too Lisbeth!
      I’ve now finished one book – four more to go!
      Three of the books on my list were Australian, so less likely to be known o/s. I have two more Pamuk’s on my TBR too, so I hope I enjoy them more than I did this one.


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