As usual, following a productive January of reading, my February reading seemed to lull a little. I said last month that often I’ll associate books with my exact headspace at the time of reading, and so perhaps I’ve subconsciously wanted to avoid discovering an excellent book while going through a really difficult friendship break-up. On the other hand, I have read some great novels in February, and it was also a month filled with love and surprises and an outpouring of kindness from my boyfriend and friends. So, it hasn’t been all bad and it will eventually get better.

As for my monthly TBR, I read from my list and am partway through two of the lengthier tomes on the list (Dune and Jade War). I found myself, as always, mood-reaching for other titles, but mostly let my list do the work.

Let’s get stuck into February’s mini book reviews…

The Taste of Ginger by Mansi Shah

Rating: ★★★.5/5

Thank you Lake Union Publishing and NetGalley for my advanced copy of this novel!

Continuing on my quest to read more books by authors in the Asian diaspora, I came across an ARC of The Taste of Ginger by Mansi Shah. The Taste of Ginger is Mansi Shah’s debut novel, following first-generation Indian-American immigrant Preeti Desai as she grapples with her sense of belonging. Struggling with a breakup, a job she’s not wholly into, and an estranged parental relationship, things are thrown into further chaos when Preeti hears of a terrible accident back home in India.

I really wanted to enjoy this novel more than I did. Shah explores the Indian-American immigrant experience, class and tradition, the Indian caste system – which I found to be a highlight of the story – love, grief and hope. Straddling two ‘beautifully flawed’ cultures, Preeti is a sort of unlovable heroine, pinballing from idea to idea without a sense of completion or finality. While there are many great moments and topics covered, I felt much of the book – I’m talking about 50% – felt too on the nose; we were told and shown everything at face value, rather than letting the story unravel itself.

Another mid-level book to add to 2022.

Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan

Rating: ★★★★★★★★/5

A.k.a. my favourite book so far of 2022, and possibly that I’ve read in a few years.

Gosh, I don’t know whether I can write a review that captures just how beautiful this book is. Daughter of the Moon Goddess is Sue Lynn Tan’s debut, a gorgeous fantasy novel rooted in Chinese folklore and, specifically, the legend of Chang’e, the Chinese moon goddess. Whilst it’s labelled as a retelling of the Mid-autumn Festival myth, I’d say that plays only a tiny part: the story itself is far greater.

Xingyin has grown up on the moon, unaware that she is being concealed from the Celestial Goddess. Soon though, her magic flares and she must leave. Thus begins an epic journey where Xingyin masters her magic and archery, confronts dragons and other creatures, travels by cloud and more. Tan packs SO much into these 512 pages, and it’s an incredible feat that not once do you feel like there’s too much content, not enough detail or that any part is overwrought. I can only describe Tan’s writing as enchantingly beautiful; her words brought the Chinese folklore that I grew up hearing completely to life in a way that is immensely immersive. I felt emotional reading several of the descriptions of palaces, and of the nature around.

Brimming with magic, romance, honour, family and beyond, Daughter of the Moon Goddess is the book I didn’t know I needed. In many ways, it answers many questions of why my brain works in the way it does – because of these gorgeous Chinese folk tales I grew up hearing.

Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

Rating: ★★★★/5

Piranesi is one of those books that you hear about constantly yet know nothing about. And like Jessie said in her top 2021 books video, that’s certainly the best way to enjoy this particular novel.

This fantasy/magical realism story takes place in a beautiful house that you become familiar with over time. Oddly charming, quiet and charming in an effusive manner, it’s told from the protagonist’s point-of-view. Once you get past the strangely formal manner in which he speaks and, I suppose, the confusing first half, this is a captivating read with some awe-inspiring world-building. In fact, it’s more confusing that Piranesi’s labyrinth… doesn’t exist? This is a magical, clever little read that I totally recommend for a quiet Sunday afternoon.

Little Gods by Meng Jin

Rating: ★★★/5

I picked Little Gods by Meng Jin up on a complete whim when taking my sister to the library (I have the membership between us two!). I recognised the cover and title, and I can never resist bringing something back from the library!

Little Gods by Meng Jin is an immigrant story told in reverse. On the night of the Tiananmen Square massacre, Su Lan gives birth, alone, in a Beijing hospital. After her death, daughter Liya travels ‘home’ to China from the US to try and unravel the ghosts and life that her mother so secretively left behind. From ambition to friendship, love to filial piety, Liya pieces together a curious past and how it irrevocably marked the lives of everyone around her.

I enjoyed this book and would give it a solid 3/5 stars. It’s quiet and understated, and is a really lovely take on the immigrant novel. Yet somehow I worry it’ll be forgettable amongst my 2022 reads. Even as I write this review, I can barely remember anything outstanding from the book. And that’s fine too.

Outline by Rachel Cusk

Rating: ★★★★/5

Not one usually for contemporary or literary fiction, I was happily surprised at how much I enjoyed Outline by Rachel Cusk. I think this trilogy must have been recently printed with these aesthetically pleasing covers, as they’re all over Instagram at the moment. I really enjoyed the first book of the series. Set in Greece and told through the lives of a multiplicity of characters, Outline is wonderfully immersive. It transports you away to the country, acting as a key player in the character cast. Yet it’s the depth of human experience and emotion that steals the show here, elevating the Greek mundane (pssh, yeah right!) painting a powerful, literary portrait of what it means to live.

Meg & Jo by Virginia Kantra (audiobook)

Rating: ★★/5

I listened to this modern retelling of Little Women while at the gym this month, and it was an absolute slog to get through. Perhaps it was the narration I couldn’t get on board with, or the Americanisms throughout, but I… didn’t enjoy this retelling at all. Meg has her dream husband, home and children, while Jo has ambitiously pursued her journalistic dreams all the way to New York City where she’s now a secret food blogger. I don’t know what it was that turned this on the head for me, and perhaps I’d enjoy it as a real book, but I didn’t find this to be an engaging or really progressive retelling of my beloved Little Women classic.

March 2022 To-Be-Read

  • Dune by Frank Herbert (started in February)
  • Jade War by Fonda Lee (started in February)
  • Olive by Emma Gannon
  • Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
  • The Doomspell by Cliff McNish (reread)

What was your favourite read from February 2022? And, what are you reading next?

Pin this post for later:

Similar Posts