March Book Wrap-Up 2020


March was a decent reading month for me, but as we go into April I'm fighting what appears to be a reading slump. Did I burn myself out, or is the inability to go to the library affecting my mental state? Yes, and probably yes. Here are all the books I got to in March.

The Pisces 
by Melissa Borden

“Maybe [the ocean and I] were on the same side, comprised of the same things, water mostly, also mystery. The ocean swallowed things up--boats, people--but it didn't look outside itself for fulfillment. It could take whatever skimmed its surface or it could leave it. In its depths already lived a whole world of who-knows-what. It was self-sustaining. I should be like that. It made me wonder what was inside of me.”

Did I kick off my March by reading merman erotica that was disguised as women's fiction? Yes, yes I did. This is about Lucy, a woman who is simultaneously going to a support group for 'love addicts' while receiving quacking orgasms from a merman come nightfall. Basically. This book left me speechless but a variety of reasons. The blatant idiocy of the protagonist, the animal abuse, the licking of menstrual blood, and the various moments that left my head cocked in utter confusion. I've written an entire review for this novel as I has so many thoughts, check that out here (I'll also put in a link at the bottom of this post) But, yes, no. I can't recommend this.

Rating: ★★

The Immortalists
by Chloe Benjamin

“The cost of loneliness is high, she knows, but the cost of loss is higher.”

A group of siblings visit a psychic as children, and get told the exact date in which each of them is going to die. From there we follow each individual sibling to their deathbed. We watch as the psychics words affect their decision making, and brings up the question 'would their paths of been different if they hadn't known? Would that of changed their fates?'. I regrettably DNF'd this at approximately 50%. I tried to go through it both physically and as an audiobook, but  was just so... bored? That's mean to say, I know. But I couldn't find it in me to care at all where the story was going, and all the characters felt too stiff. Maybe I'll eventually pick this back up, but for now, it's a pass from me. Have you read this? Should I give it another chance?

Rating: N/A

I'll Give You The Sun
by Jandy Nelson

“Maybe some people are just meant to be in the same story.” 

This is a YA contemporary that's been sitting on my shelf for years but after seeing that @BooksWithEmilyFox gave it 5 stars, I got intrigued and put it instantly back onto my immediate TBR. In this we follow twins, Noah and Jude, and watch as their lives go onto different paths after one gets into art school and the other doesn't. This is a slow burn of a book, but I really enjoyed it. It had the right amount of angst and poeticness without seeming pretentious. It spoke about loss, depression, passion, sexuality, first loves, and the expectations put upon teenagers. And yet the book was written with both grace and specks of humour, it never felt heavy. I laughed, cried, and stayed up far too late in a bid to finish it. Would definitely recommend the audiobook.

Rating: ★★★★★ (4.5)

Lock Every Door
by Riley Sager

“Because here’s the thing about being poor—most people don’t understand it unless they’ve been there themselves. They don’t know what a fragile balancing act it is to stay afloat and that if, God forbid, you momentarily slip underwater, how hard it is to resurface.”

Jules is a recently single woman who has found what seems to be a perfect job - house sitting an apartment in the high profile complex the Bartholomew in central Manhattan. For a big sum of money she just has to follow a few simple rules: No visitors, no nights spent away from the apartment, and no disturbing the other residents, all of whom are rich or famous or both. But when a fellow apartment sitter goes missing, Jules begins to unravel the dark secrets of the building. I enjoy Riley Sager's books. They aren't predictable nor do they have drunken mum's as the protagonist, yay! Due to my extensive horror knowledge I did foresee the twists coming in this, but that didn't affect my overall enjoyment of the book. If you like thrillers that feel original and have an eerie atmosphere, be sure to add this to your TBR.

Rating: ★★★★★

You Are Not Alone
by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen 

“Some people contend there are two primal fears. The first and most basic is the end of our existence. The second is isolation; we all have a deep need to belong to something greater than ourselves.”

Shay Miller is your average New Yorker. But when she witnesses a suicide on the subway, her life spirals fast. She can't get the woman out of her minds eye. Because of this she goes to the memorial to pay her respects, it is there that she meets Jane and Cassandra - sisters who bring Shay into their inner circle with welcomed arms. They give her a makeover, help her find a new place to live, and all-in-all help her become a better version of herself. But soon she finds that she's stepped entirely into the dead girls shoes. Was this all just a wacky coincidence, or did the sisters plan this? I haven't had great luck with the other books written by the authors, I find the naïve young girl protagonist they like so much to be a pretty annoying thriller trope. However, this wasn't terrible. I listened to it on Scribd, which I strongly recommend you do too. If I had read this physically I imagine I would've gotten lost in the multitude of POV'S. Will I remember this book in a years time? Probably not, but it was enjoyable for what it is. A fast paced thriller with some predictability. I stand by my statement that I think Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen's books are unworthy of the hype surrounding them, but if you enjoyed either The Wife Between Us or An Anonymous Girl, pick this up. And if you want an introduction into this author duo, I'd recommend going with this book first as it is their best.

Rating: ★★★ (3.5)

In Five Years
by Rebecca Sable

“It feels impossible how much space there can be in this intimacy, how much privacy. And I think that maybe that is what love is. Not the absence of space but the acknowledgement of it, the thing that lives between the parts, the things that makes it possible not to be one, but to be different, to be two.”

What if you get a glimpse into your future, but everything is different? When Dannie wakes up in what seems to be an alternate future, where she's no longer engaged to her perfectly matched boyfriend and is living in a completely different apartment, her mind feels a little bruised. Can five years be this different? But after a very strange encounter with this stranger and some of the best sex of her life, she wakes up back in the past and puts the entire thing down to just a really odd dream. But when the mysterious man from her future starts dating her BFF Bella, she begins to question everything.  I didn't know what to expect from this novel as the premise is confusing no matter how it's put. However, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I loved this book. It was much more centred around the friendship dynamic between Dannie and Bella than it was romantic, and I do thing that aided in my enjoyment. If you read one book from this entire blog post, go with this one.

Rating: ★★★★★

A Pale View Of Hills
by Kazuo Ishiguro

“As with a wound on one's own body, it is possible to develop an intimacy with the most disturbing of things”

I read Never Let Me Go last year and adored it, so I was interested in reading more of Ishiguro's work. This was a short novel with a premise that seemed right up my street. Set in both the current time and the past, we read the life story of Etsuko, a Japanese woman who has just lost her daughter to suicide. Muddled in her grief, we read about the years she spent in Japan during the wake of World War II and how she came to live in England. This is a hard book for me review, as I did enjoy the story but found the pacing a little odd. I read it in a total of three sittings, and yet it felt like it took me weeks. The writing was beautiful but slow. It's a book that has to sit with you for a few days, like Normal People by Sally Rooney, as it feels too full of a story to absorb right away. Does that make sense?

Rating: ★★★

by Stephen King

“Writers remember everything...especially the hurts. Strip a writer to the buff, point to the scars, and he'll tell you the story of each small one. From the big ones you get novels. A little talent is a nice thing to have if you want to be a writer, but the only real requirement is the ability to remember the story of every scar. Art consists of the persistence of memory.”

When popular author Paul Sheldon gets into a car wreck and wakes up with his legs splintered, high on medication, with a large busted woman (King really wants us to know this) acting as his nurse. Annie Wilkes is Paul's biggest fan, and she'll do anything to help him. Even if it means keeping him with her forever. I keep trying with Stephen King books, but they always tend to let me down in some way. This was a similar case. I found Paul to be a very dislikable protagonist and Annie didn't have any redeemable qualities to help me sympathise or 'get' her. It was a very slow moving novel, and I strongly disliked the chapters of Paul's book. They felt pointless and didn't line up with the actual story in any way, so they felt pointless. I don't know. Many will say I should just completely give up on King, but I really want to understand why so many people adore his work. And the audiobooks put me to sleep. Yay?

Rating: ★★★ (2.5)

Jane Eyre
by Charlotte Bronte 

“I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself.”

Do I get my reading badge taken off me for not giving Jane Eyre 5 stars? I liked this book, I really did. In fact the first half surprised me as I kept wanting to read 'just one more chapter' which I wasn't expecting with a hefty classic like this. But you can probably see where this is going, the last half disappointed me. I found the turns that the story took too weird, and I couldn't find it in me to ship Jane and Rochester. Jane deserved better. All in all, a solid 4 star read. Glad I read it, but I can't see myself ever picking it back up.

Rating: ★★★★

My Squirrel Days
by Ellie Kemper

“One of my great hobbies in life is feeling sorry for myself. Nothing makes me feel more alive than when I suspect I have been wronged. Oh, the energy!”

This was my non-fiction read for March, which is a challenge I've set myself to read at least one non-fiction from my physical TBR each month. (Who else hoards non-fiction but never actually gets to it?) Memoirs are hard to review as 1) you're reading about the authors life, so you can't really criticise the books contents, and 2) nothing I say is likely to persuade you into picking it up if you have no interest in Ellie Kemper. However, this book disappointed me in the sense of it mostly being about her childhood and not her career/motherhood. I was hoping for more of an insight into the world of Kimmy Schmidt, however she only touched on the show in the final chapter. I don't know, there was just something about this book that felt disconnected. I never felt like I got a personal look at the author as it seemed to be written more for comedic value rather than an opportunity for her to help fans get a more in depth look into the woman she is. Eh.

Rating: ★★★

Local Girls
by Alice Hoffman 

“...he had a way of taking your hand which made it clear he'd have to be the one to let go.”

This slice-of-life novel by the beloved Hoffman is centred around a Long Island neighbourhood and the Samuelson family. In this family we have a terminally ill mother, a young girl who is feeling love for the first time, and a brother who has given up everything in a bid to be the man of the family. I went into this expecting something more along the lines of Little Fires Everywhere or Firefly Lane, but instead I turned each page expecting the book to suddenly take a magical realism spin. Hoffman has a magical way of writing, but I don't think it translated as well into this less than 150 page novel.

Rating: ★★★

The Year After You
by Nina De Pass

“I'm surprised to find that here, I may have finally found a place where I imagine myself surviving.”

Cara is a teenage girl who lost her best friend G in a car accident. Because of the depression that spouted after her lost, her mother sends her to a boarding school in Switzerland. There Cara meets a group of friends that could have the ability to help her go through her grief, but she has to learn to let them first. For a debut novel, this was beautifully written. Did it have some YA predictability? Yes, but in a similar style to We Are Okay by Nina Lacour, you find yourself looking past it because of the purity of the book. It didn't fall into any cliches, and the characters were all believable in their teenage ways. Much like Booksmart, there were no 'villain' characters. Everyone was just dealing with their own crap. One notable thing that I appreciated from this novel was how the adults were actually wiser than the kids. They weren't assholes. And they weren't pointless. They were trying to help throughout, but Cara just couldn't see it. All too often in young adult contemporaries, the parents/authority figures are useless to the teenage characters. To summarise this hefty review, I really enjoyed this book and I look forward to reading the authors future work.

Rating: ★★★★

Such A Fun Age
by Kelly Reid 

“I don't need you to be mad that it happened. I need you to be mad that it just like... happens.”

A young black woman is accused of kidnapping a white child when she was only acting as the girls nanny. This starts a domino effect with the girls life, and the parents of the child. I didn't know what to expect from this book as I'd seen it everywhere online without once seeing an actual review. So I randomly started the audiobook one day, and before I knew it I was 100% invested. This is a story about class, race, and the 'white saviour' complex we all too often see in media. I found all the characters beautifully flawed, and truly liked everyone even when they were doing the most infuriating of things. In many ways it reminded me of a mix between Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams and Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. If you liked either, give this novel a go.

Rating: ★★★★

So, yup. There we all have all the books I got to in March. Quite a mixed bag. Are any of these on your current TBR? Let me know!

Full Reviews:
In Five Years by Rebcca Serle 
You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkenan 
The Pisces by Melissa Broden 

Stay safe,

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