Wednesday 7 March 2018


What I Read in February 2018 – Wrap Up & Mini Reviews

With my goal for 2018 to take more time for each book I read and stress less about getting through all of the review titles ever, I've read a 'mere' four books in February, and I'm okay with that. Being more picky with the titles I picked they've unanimously been brilliant reads (a lovely mixture of fiction and non-fiction too) and I feel very happy with my bookish accomplishment of the month. I've also had more time for reading other content, such as blogs and magazines. I've had years of subscriptions to National Geographic and National Geographic Traveller but never read them back-to-back and I'm now catching up, which I am really enjoying! They are my all-time favourite magazines and it feels so good to finally get around to them, plus they also nicely align with my goal of reading more educational and travel-related content this year, win/win. 

The Toymakers by Robert Dinsdale (Ebury)

I don't tend to read much historical fiction, but the magical realism aspect to this book (and that gorgeous cover) is what caught my eye initially and I am so very glad it did because this was a truly wondrous read that delighted me with the turn of every single page. It is constantly surprising in its imaginative world building, yet beneath the innovative toys detailed within its pages – from paper trees growing into a real life forest through to actual cloud castles – there is a captivating and surprisingly harrowing tale of hope, family and loss. Set against the backdrop of the First World War, author Robert Dinsdale doesn't shy away from the physical and mental affects of the war and the sharp contrast to the innocent naivety felt only pages earlier leaves a noticeable impact not only on the characters but on the reader too. The Toymakers lures you in with promises of a rich and enchanted world beyond your wildest imagination but keeps you hooked with its captivating story of the three characters at the core of it all. (Read my full review.) 4.5 stars. Get your copy here.

You Do You by Sarah Knight (Quercus)

Sarah Knight is known for her no-nonsense anti-guru books and while this is the first one by her hand I've picked up it most certainly won't be the last. I loved her blunt writing style in which she gets to the point of what she's trying to convey without holding back at all. Her words are inspiring and the message is clear, giving me a much-needed kick up the butt to make some changes in my own life to become more happy with who I am and where I want to be. And rounded out with hilarious anecdotes from her own experiences this isn't only an inspirational read, but a very funny one too. My only criticism, and the reason I've knocked a star from this review, is that she spends far too much time referencing her other novels throughout the pages of this one. So much so that it became annoying. I was able to get the general gist from the first reference and I wish less pages were wasted on just saying the same old thing again, and more on the actual focus of this book; self-acceptance. Still, it was a pretty great read, and just what I needed at this stage in my life, so I'll definitely be picking up her other books soon too. 4 stars. Get your copy here.

The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett (Weidenfeld and Nicolson)

This book had all of the buzz when it came out a few years ago. Described as Sliding Doors meets One Day, it's easy to see why it was received so well by so many at the time. The Versions of Us is a highly original novel with at its core the relationship of protagonists Eva and Jim throughout the decades they've known each other... in three very different versions where they meet under different circumstances at different stages in their lives, each of their combined stories going at varying speeds in unexpected directions. It was clever and very fascinating. It was a bit confusing at times having read it over the course of a week or so, with the different timelines blurring into one another in my mind. But I can't deny that the concept was very clever indeed and with the subtle references in the different varieties of Eva and Jim's story together to the other timelines, and even the three different versions as a whole, an already good romance became a truly captivating read. 4 stars. Get your copy here.

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin (Harper)

This is the tale of one women's search for happiness. She isn't unhappy in her life, but she just wants to feel happier than she already does, without a pilgrimage to a foreign country or a complete overhaul of her life and work. I can relate to that and as Gretchen made her list of goals for the years, and themes for each month to focus on, I mentally made mine. I didn't relate to all focus areas of Gretchen and yet there was plenty to enjoy within the pages that have inspired me. I particularly loved her inclusions of comments and tips from her blog readers so it wasn't just her providing tips and guidance, and the easy lists at the back of the back that you can copy across and put in a prominent position on your desk as reminders. This is definitely a read you can return to, perhaps even only to a certain month that has a focus area of particular interest to you, the reader, at that time in your life. I for one, closed the book feeling inspired and heading over to Gretchen's blog to subscribe to it. Job well done. 4 stars. Get your copy here.

Have you read any of the above books? And what did you read in February?
Let me know in the comments below!

🎵 Listening to: McFly – Love Is Easy
🔹 Mood: Productive

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