I have been a little out of my reading groove this year, but I read so many great books this month that I’m feeling back in the game again.
My biggest challenge?
Beating my readers to books and getting to share about them before they have read them.
I am really hopeful though that I have made a few discoveries that you haven’t explored yet and I have several 5-star reads in this month’s stack that I think you will love.
I’m looking forward to enjoying our Spring Break in the sunshine this year and I’m, perhaps, a little TOO ambitious with how many books that I’m hoping to tackle. I’m guessing next month you will definitely want to stop by to see what I enjoyed over the break.
My Usual Reminders
If you want to see more of what I am reading, please feel free to friend me on GoodReads! You can find me right here and I am always happy to connect with people there! There is nothing more motivating than seeing what other people are raving about and my to-be-read pile continues to grow with all of my new friends on there!
In fact, many of the books featured are ones that I have found through my friends on GoodReads.
Looking to add some variety to your stack? Feel free to join our book club! I can’t believe we have over 1,500 bookworms in this group. Our discussion this month was AMAZING and it is so much fun to have so many participating (and enjoying) the books that I selected to share. I announced our selections (here is what we will be reading in March) and you can find them pinned at the top of the group page. These will be added in a blog entry for January, but book club participants get the list a little earlier. It’s just one more perk to enjoy with this free club!
Need another challenge to push you out of your reading comfort zone? Be sure to download this year’s Reading Challenge Worksheet.
The Book of Month Club Selections Are Out!!
This month’s special:
From a Gillian Flynn-approved thriller (trust her: it’s nasty) to a showdown on Mount Olympus, the selections this month are fast, fun, and full of adventure. Get excited.
❃ Circe by Madeline Miller—recommended by BOTM Judge Liberty Hardy
❃ The Oracle Year by Charles Soule—recommended by author and blogger Samantha Irby
❃ Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall—recommended by BOTM Editorial Director Siobhan Jones
❃ The Girl Who Smiled Beads by Clemantine Wamariya—recommended by BOTM Brand Ambassador Etaf Rum
❃ Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell—recommended by BOTM Readers Committee member Laura Whitelaw
Here are 9 must-read books I tackled in March:
Brass by Xhenet Aliu
Brass explores a beautifully complex mother and daughter story as the duo go on their own parallel journeys. Elise, our mother in the story, is working as a waitress when she meets and falls in love with the diner’s line cook, Bashkim.
What Bashkim failed to share with her is that he was already a married man.
He promises her the moon, but delivers on nothing and Elise must make the difficult decision to stay and raise their child together or leave.
Seventeen years later, Luljeta has a very complex relationship with her mother. She has never understood why she has left and she decides to go find the answers herself and the father she never knew.
This story is told in parallel narrative and Aliu does such a great job weaving the complexities of mother daughter relationships into these two characters. If you like your family stories a little messy, like me, I have a feeling that you will really enjoy this read.
3.5 Out Of 5 Stars
The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin
The Immortalists has been on many must-read lists this year and I was absolutely engrossed in this incredible book, told from four sibling’s perspectives.
The premise of this book is that the four children visit a fortune-teller who is able to tell them the exact date of their death. Each sibling keeps this information a secret from one another and the story explores how knowing when you will die (young or old) impacts your decision-making. Do you engage in risky behaviors because you know you know when you will die anyway? How does knowing your final date shape your own patterns of behavior?
The book is broken into four sections following each of their lives and how they live them with this forecasted information. Each of the characters was so well-written that I found myself escaping into each story easily.
I, honestly, couldn’t put this one down. I highly recommend it for yourself or to share with your book club!
4 Out Of 5 Stars
Every Note Played by Lisa Genova
If you are looking for a tear-jerker to add to your book stack this month, then be sure to add Genova’s latest novel, Every Note Played.
I have read everything that Genova has written and this has been my favorite of all her incredible books. This story explores the disease ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) and the swift decline that occurs when someone is faced with this illness.
Richard is a world-renowned pianist that has chosen to make playing music the focus of his life, even over his family. Divorced and estranged from his daughter, he bounces from one relationship to the next. When he begins having difficulties playing piano, particularly with his right hand, he sees a doctor and is faced with the devastating news that he has ALS and will soon see paralysis throughout the rest of his body.
Unable to afford the care that he needs, he must ask his ex-wife to help care for him, someone he had cast aside and cheated on during their marriage. This dynamic is quite toxic as Richard and Karina must learn to live together again and face the horrific and heartbreaking decline of Richard’s health.
Richard is an unlikable character from beginning to end and I do think that this makes Karina’s sacrifice even greater because he is so ungrateful. Some readers may struggle with a connection to him, but you definitely won’t struggle to sympathize as you see the gravity of this illness and how quickly it takes over the body.
I cry about once a year over a book, thanks to a hardened soul and reading so much.
This book WRECKED ME.
I was crying reading it and then two days later I was still crying about it. It moved me emotionally, in ways that books rarely do.
Once I came to the end and saw all of the people that Genova lovingly mentions that shared their journey with ALS with her, you see how much thought and research went into this project. Genova’s compassion in telling this story is, truly, a gift.
Be sure to add this one to the top of your book stack this month!
5 Out Of 5 Stars
Himself by Jess Kidd
(ON SALE right now for just $1.99!!)
It is hard to categorize this read, but I found myself moved and completely laughing-out-loud through this beautifully told story.
Mahony was abandoned at an orphanage as a baby and has always assumed his mother did not want to be a part of his life. When he receives an anonymous note though, it implies that she might have been forced to give him up and that there might be more to this story. Mahony sets off to his hometown to try to find out what exactly happened to his mother.
The whole town starts talking the minute that Mahony shows up. The ladies want him, the people who never liked his mother want him to leave, and he also happens to have a gift for talking to ghosts who would love to tell him a few stories of their own.
If you love a good Irish accent, be sure to listen to this one on audiobook because it really is a treat. Even with such a potentially heavy topic, this book is thick with humor and heart. All the villagers practically lift off the page. Kidd definitely has a knack for storytelling and I’m sure we will be seeing a lot more from her in the future.
5 Out Of 5 Stars
American Fire by Monica Hesse
This is a fast and easy-to-read true crime novel about a series of 70+ fires that happened in Virginia’s Accomack County. The love affair of Charlie Smith and Tonya Bundick apparently needed a little more spark (I had to do it-sorry!) and they decided that setting fires to local abandoned buildings would be a great way to spend their time together.
This isn’t a whodunit story, it is a whydunit story. If you prefer your true crime with some mystery, you won’t get that in this one. Hesse reveals exactly who set these from the start and then unfolds their motivations for attention. You follow these two all the way to the courtroom and also, as a reader, get to understand the unbelievable time and effort that were involved in putting these fires out.
I listened to this one on audiobook and thought it was very well-written. Hesse really did her research and I enjoyed hearing more about this twisted love story and how these arsons brought the town together in some really unlikely ways.
4 Out Of 5 Stars
Mrs. Fletcher by Tom Perrotta
Looking for a little spice in your book stack? Mrs. Fletcher explores sex, love, and identity in America through the story of Eve, lonely and divorced, and her college-aged son.
Eve begins exploring her sexuality through porn because her life has felt boring and mediocre, inspired by an anonymous text calling her a MILF. When she joins a Gender Studies course, she finds an openness in her co-workers and also discovers that the message has become a fixation for her that she just can’t let go.
Meanwhile, her son lacks the smooth charm with the ladies and embarrassingly embraces his frat-bro style in his relationships (*cringe*). When he takes things a bit too far with a girl, he is forced to see the confusion he has had with what he thinks girls want and what they really do want.
I told ya, this book has some spice and it won’t be for everyone. It was like watching two train wrecks unfold and definitely examines today’s culture and how we explore our sexuality. What’s okay now? What’s not? It held my attention, even when I felt the plot took some strange and disturbing turns.
3 Out Of 5 Stars
Dear Fang, With Love by Rufi Thorpe
I always like to walk around the library and pick up one book that isn’t being talked about and that is no longer on the new releases table. Dear Fang, With Love had such a gorgeous cover that it immediately grabbed my attention and I enjoyed this book so very much that I’m surprised that I haven’t heard more about it.
Vera is seventeen and has recently suffered a psychotic breakdown and is being treated for bipolar disorder. She has been estranged from her father her whole life, but he decides to take her on a trip to the city of Vilnius, his grandmother’s homeland, after her recent diagnosis. The two go on a group tour where they make unlikely friendships, learn about the Holocaust, explore a mystery around their grandmother being granted an escape from the Nazis, and begin finding beauty in rekindled relationships with those we love.
Vera writes to her boyfriend, nicknamed Fang, with some laugh-out-loud letters about what has been happening as she mentally feels better and better being in this new environment. Thorpe explores the tricky terrain of mental illness through very beautiful writing and I have a feeling you will fall in love with Vera and her father as much as I did.
This coming-of-age story was a wonderful surprise this month. I hope you can snag it at your library too!
4 Out Of 5 Stars
Losing Brave by Bailee Madison & Stefne Miller
Losing Brave is a haunting YA novel about a year-old mystery surrounding the disappearance of Payton’s twin sister, Dylan. Payton was there when Dylan disappeared, but has holes in her memory about what has happened. Although the case is still open, she knows that she might be the one to hold the key into uncovering Dylan’s reasoning for her absence in their family.
When another missing girl’s body is discovered by the lake, with similar features to Dylan, the police begin to believe that these two disappearances may be linked. As Payton begins to uncover some of her memories around this moment, she has no idea the danger she is putting herself in. To make matters worse, she has begun to have feelings for Dylan’s boyfriend as the two become closer and closer through their mutual sadness over the loss of Dylan.
This mystery is well-paced and kept me guessing throughout. Madison builds believable motives and adds a real rawness to Payton’s character. Better yet, the story takes some really shocking twists that I don’t think you will see coming at all… at least, I didn’t.
The audiobook is beautifully narrated and really adds another layer to the story that I think you will appreciate. This was another beautiful surprise in my book stack this month that I think even people who aren’t as into YA will really love because of the maturity of these characters, the writing, and the thriller-style mystery!
4 Out Of 5 Stars
Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson
Looking for a really quick page-turner that you won’t be able to put down? Allegedly had me up until waayyyy past my bedtime because I was so wrapped up into this story. Described as, Orange Is the New Black meets Walter Dean Myer’s Monster, this story is about a teen who had been accused of killing a baby when she was just nine-years-old….allegedly.
Mary B. Madison has been written about in many, many books as people tried to understand the motivation behind this child-murderer. Now that Mary is pregnant with her own baby, she has decided to come clean with what really happened that night and has begged her mother to tell the true story so her baby is not taken away from her. Living in a scary group home and without money, she decides to see an attorney, who has volunteered her time to this intriguing case, and has asked that the case be reopened so she can keep her child.
The story unfolds for the reader through newspaper and book clippings of speculations and through Mary’s own eyes as she slowly shares about her heartbreaking childhood and her mentally ill mother.
Get ready for a BUMPY ride, folks. I don’t want to reveal too much more beyond this because half the fun is your own discoveries as a reader.
I’m so thankful for our book club and the recommendations that they make. This book came highly recommended and I would have never picked it up on my own. It’s free to join in on the fun- I think you’d love the recommendations too.
5 Out Of 5 Stars
Read With Me This Year:
What did you read this month? Looking for book ideas? Check out our entire Book section of the site! Don’t forget to friend me on GoodReads! xo
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