10 March 2020

What I Read {February Reads}

Hey y'all,

It's already the second week of March so I should go ahead and tell you what I read in February. I was still in a physical book rut so I mostly listened to audio books in February. Luckily, I am still on track to finish 65 books this year according to Goodreads as I am at 13/65. Here's what I finished in February:

In The Woods (audiobook)

In the Woods (Dublin Murder Squad, #1)As dusk approaches a small Dublin suburb in the summer of 1984, mothers begin to call their children home. But on this warm evening, three children do not return from the dark and silent woods. When the police arrive, they find only one of the children. He is gripping a tree trunk in terror, wearing blood-filled sneakers and unable to recall a single detail of the previous hours.
Twenty years later, the found boy, Rob Ryan, is a detective on the Dublin Murder Squad and keeps his past a secret. But when a 12-year-old girl is found murdered in the same woods, he and Detective Cassie Maddox (his partner and closest friend) find themselves investigating a case chillingly similar to the previous unsolved mystery. Now, with only snippets of long-buried memories to guide him, Ryan has the chance to uncover both the mystery of the case before him and that of his own shadowy past.

I first heard of the Dublin Murder Squad series on the What Should I Read Next podcast so I grabbed a copy at a library sale in May 2019 but never got around to picking it up. Enter, the audiobook which while long was an amazing read. In The Woods begins with three young kids going into the woods one summer day in ‘84 but only one is found. Years later, that one is now a murder detective when a young girl is found murdered not far from the wood. It’s a book filled with twists and turns and I’m excited for the next book in the series. ⭐⭐⭐/5

Always and Forever, Lara Jean

Lara Jean is having the best senior year.

Always and Forever, Lara Jean (To All the Boys I've Loved Before, #3)And there’s still so much to look forward to: a class trip to New York City, prom with her boyfriend Peter, Beach Week after graduation, and her dad’s wedding to Ms. Rothschild. Then she’ll be off to college with Peter, at a school close enough for her to come home and bake chocolate chip cookies on the weekends.
Life couldn’t be more perfect!
At least, that’s what Lara Jean thinks . . . until she gets some unexpected news.
Now the girl who dreads change must rethink all her plans—but when your heart and your head are saying two different things, which one should you listen to?

The conclusion of To All the Boys finds LJ & Peter K struggling with college decisions, senior year events, and if they will continue to be together after graduation. It was a good conclusion to the series but was a lot slower to start than the previous books. I watched the second film last night and I’m excited for this movie to come out next year. ⭐⭐⭐/5

On the Come Up (audiobook)

On the Come UpSixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or at least make it out of her neighborhood one day. As the daughter of an underground rap legend who died before he hit big, Bri’s got big shoes to fill. But now that her mom has unexpectedly lost her job, food banks and shutoff notices are as much a part of Bri’s life as beats and rhymes. With bills piling up and homelessness staring her family down, Bri no longer just wants to make it—she has to make it.
On the Come Up is Angie Thomas’s homage to hip-hop, the art that sparked her passion for storytelling and continues to inspire her to this day. It is the story of fighting for your dreams, even as the odds are stacked against you; of the struggle to become who you are and not who everyone expects you to be; and of the desperate realities of poor and working-class black families.

Set in the same neighborhood as Thomas’ first book, The Hate You Give, On the Come Up follows Bri as she tries to take her passion for rapping to the next level to follow in her father’s footsteps and help her family. I enjoyed the audio version particularly due to the amount of spoken word/raps in the novel. While I think The Hate You Give is more impactful, Bri’s story reminds us to sometimes not take up every thing thrown at us. We don’t have to respond to everything, just work on who we are and respond from that perspective. ⭐⭐⭐⭐/5

The Gifts of Imperfection *book club pick

The Gifts of ImperfectionEach day we face a barrage of images and messages from society and the media telling us who, what, and how we should be. We are led to believe that if we could only look perfect and lead perfect lives, we'd no longer feel inadequate. So most of us perform, please, and perfect, all the while thinking, What if I can't keep all of these balls in the air? Why isn't everyone else working harder and living up to my expectations? What will people think if I fail or give up? When can I stop proving myself?In The Gifts of Imperfection, Brene Brown, PhD, a leading expert on shame, authenticity and belonging, shares what she's learned from a decade of research on the power of Wholehearted Living--a way of engaging with the world from a place of worthiness.In her ten guideposts, Brown engages our minds, hearts, and spirits as she explores how we can cultivate the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough, and to go to bed at night thinking, Yes, I am sometimes afraid, but I am also brave. And, yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable, but that doesn't change the truth that I am worthy of love and belonging.

February’s book club selection was Brene Brown's The Gifts of Imperfection and while I have enjoyed Brown’s Ted and Netflix talks, this book just didn’t really connect with me. I enjoyed some of the takeaways but over all it fell flat to me. ⭐⭐/5

The Cactus (audiobook)

The CactusFor Susan Green, messy emotions don't fit into the equation of her perfectly ordered life. She has a flat that is ideal for one, a job that suits her passion for logic, and an "interpersonal arrangement" that provides cultural and other, more intimate, benefits. But suddenly confronted with the loss of her mother and the news that she is about to become a mother herself, Susan's greatest fear is realized. She is losing control.
Enter Rob, the dubious but well-meaning friend of her indolent brother. As Susan's due date draws near and her dismantled world falls further into a tailspin, Susan finds an unlikely ally in Rob. She might have a chance at finding real love and learning to love herself, if only she can figure out how to let go.

If you enjoyed Eleanor Oliphant, I think Susan in the Cactus could be your next heroine. The novel starts with Susan learning of her mother’s death and continues as Susan deals with grief, a will, learning what motherhood means, and how personal relationships can be good for one’s health. ⭐⭐⭐.5/5

Behind Closed Doors (audiobook)

Behind Closed DoorsEveryone knows a couple like Jack and Grace. He has looks and wealth, she has charm and elegance. You might not want to like them, but you do.
You’d like to get to know Grace better.
But it’s difficult, because you realize Jack and Grace are never apart.
Some might call this true love. Others might ask why Grace never answers the phone. Or how she can never meet for coffee, even though she doesn’t work. How she can cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim. And why there are bars on one of the bedroom windows.
Sometimes, the perfect marriage is the perfect lie.

Jack and Grace are the perfect couple-gorgeous home, amazing vacations, and virtually inseparable. However, behind closed doors, everything is not perfect and this thriller helps you question what you would do if the one you loved who shows the world the perfect face is a monster inside. ⭐⭐⭐/5

Bring Me Back (audiobook)

Bring Me BackFinn and Layla are young, in love, and on vacation. They’re driving along the highway when Finn decides to stop at a service station to use the restroom. He hops out of the car, locks the doors behind him, and goes inside. When he returns Layla is gone—never to be seen again. That is the story Finn told to the police. But it is not the whole story.
Ten years later Finn is engaged to Layla’s sister, Ellen. Their shared grief over what happened to Layla drew them close and now they intend to remain together. Still, there’s something about Ellen that Finn has never fully understood. His heart wants to believe that she is the one for him...even though a sixth sense tells him not to trust her.
Then, not long before he and Ellen are to be married, Finn gets a phone call. Someone from his past has seen Layla—hiding in plain sight. There are other odd occurrences: Long-lost items from Layla’s past that keep turning up around Finn and Ellen’s house. Emails from strangers who seem to know too much. Secret messages, clues, warnings. If Layla is alive—and on Finn’s trail—what does she want? And how much does she know?

Another suspenseful thriller to end February. After listening to Behind Closed Doors, I was excited to read another Paris thriller. Layla disappeared while on vacation with Finn. Twelve years later, Finn is engaged to Ellen, Layla’s sister and clues are appearing that Layla might be alive. The twist at the ending of this one was a bit far fetched and therefore made this one just an okay read. ⭐⭐/5

What did you read this month?
Life According to Steph
Link up with Jana and Steph.



  1. I enjoy BA Paris's books. They're quick reads and good enough that they don't feel like a slog.

    Angie Thomas is a spectacular writer. I can't wait for her third book. Whenever that gets here.

  2. I loved the Dublin Murder Squad Books. And On the Come Up.

  3. I wasn't a huge fan of In the Woods, but I'm kind of curious about trying another in the series. I did like On the Come Up.


  4. Go for BA Paris' The Breakdown. It's my favorite of hers. I read it in a day.

    I really enjoyed In the Woods. I didn't like any of the other Dublin Murder Squad books. I tried 4 I think?

    I liked The Gifts of Imperfection a lot when I first read it (better than any of her other books). Then I stopped doing any sort of self-help books and I don't see the value in this one as much.

  5. I need to go see when Always and Forever Lara Jean published - I don't think I've read that one yet! In the Woods sounds good, and I've been wanting to read On the Come Up too. Thanks for sharing :)


Thank you for your sweet message!

Just Jessica. Design by Berenica Designs.