February/March 2020 Reads

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

I didn’t think I would become a Marie Kondo fan, but I did. She has such a sweet and positive approach to life while also being very down-to-earth. I have to admit I kept forgetting I was reading this, but I still appreciate her philosophy. And it is an entire philosophy, not just a how-to-clean-your-house book. It’s very gratitude based, which is never a bad thing. After I read this, I went through all my clothes, which I had meaning to do anyway, and filled two big tubs of stuff I haven’t worn in years. Unfortunately the next day was when I got sick with the flu so I couldn’t continue on to the next category, but I plan to pick back up and finish Kon-Mari-ing our house through the spring and summer. (A great activity for staying at home!) The only thing I wish the book had is an appendix in the back with all the categories listed out, but that’s easily made or found online. Also – Marie Kondo’s new show is precious.

The Liar’s Girl by Catherine Ryan Howard

With this book, I’ve finally read all of Howard’s work, and this may be my favorite of hers. It was so good! There was a twist I didn’t see coming, and it was well written like all her other books. Plus, the book would have been just as powerful without the end twist, but the twist didn’t feel forced either. There were also some subtle feminist themes I appreciated.

The Grace Year by Kim Liggett

Wow – I did not expect to enjoy this book this much. This was a fantastic read. It’s been compared to both The Handmaid’s Tale and Lord of the Flies, which are both good comparisons. This is definitely a book with a message, but there was a lot of nuance in it and the author didn’t beat it over the reader’s head, which I really appreciated. The characters were incredible too – easy to root for but not black and white. I liked that the time period was ambiguous, and the ending was perfect – realistic, bittersweet, with exactly the right amount of hope. (There was also a twist at the end so subtle that I missed it until I read some other reviews, but now that I noticed it it is so obvious and beautifully written.)

I also actually liked the romance in this (for once!). It wasn’t a distraction from the main storyline or themes, but added to it. It is introduced late in the book, so I had time to get to know the main character on her own before she got involved with another characters, and while the romance was nice on its own merits (and not cheesy), it also served a larger purpose of illustrating the broader effects of the grace year on the rest of the community. Go Kim Leggett! If you like YA and/or dystopian and/or just really well-written books, this is good.

Ghost Boy by Martin Pistorius

Martin Pistorius got a mysterious illness at 12 and became mute and wheelchair bound within 18 months. His parents and doctors all thought his brain function was gone, but it wasn’t – Martin lived trapped inside his own brain for about 10 years before we was able to learn to talk again. This was not only an incredible – and incredibly sad – story, but it was really well written, too. Some memoirs can be weirdly formatted, with authors telling a story and then adding barely-related commentary for pages and pages, but this read more like a novel, which was nice. Pistorius suffered abuse in one of his care homes while he couldn’t speak, so if that’s something you don’t want to read about, maybe skip this. But if you’re fine with that, Martin is a really interesting and well-rounded person with a fascinating story, and he deserves your read.

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

This is the sophomore novel from the author of the acclaimed Girl on the Train. I really, really enjoyed this and will be watching for more from Hawkins. This was a multiple-perspectives thriller about one town and their relationship to a local swimming hole, where many women have died in shady ways. Multiple perspectives can be difficult to pull off, but Hawkins did it really well, with a distinct voice and feel for each character. The characters were great, too – well-developed, realistic, and likable while still being human. There were also some subtle feminist themes, which I always appreciate.


The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore. I really thought I was going to enjoy this, but it didn’t draw me in. I was confused with the details around the decades-old family feud, and feel like the action got started without ever really getting to know the characters. I will likely still try some of this author’s later work, as a lot of reviewers mention the writing gets better, but this was not it for me.

The Guardians by John Grisham. My dad has always enjoyed Grisham books and he lent me one of his the last time he visited my house. I liked this initially, but it started really dragging in the middle, and that combined with the weirdly microsexist writing style I DNF’d.

Images from Goodreads.