March went quickly. It hasn’t necessarily felt like spring yet, here in Chicago, but every day of sunlight has me hopeful for April.
My life highlights this month were few, but favorited. I finally went to a concert again for the first time since December, which is an extraordinarily weird gap, since my relationship with my boyfriend was pretty much founded and sustained on going to shows. I saw Remo Drive, Sorority Noise, and Prince Daddy & The Hyena, all of which are third-wave emo/punk gems that you should totally look up if you like the sound of depressed 20-something men playing loud guitars in a basement. And of course, I saw my queen, Lorde, from the fifth row of the Allstate Arena. It was an absolute dream.
I got frightfully close to reading slumps twice this month. I took ten days between finishing Untamed and The Great Alone, which is an anomaly at this point in my life. That might’ve been around the time that I was playing the prequel to Wolfenstein, but I might’ve also just been napping steadily through that time. And then, again, The House of Impossible Beauties was such a heavy, intense read that I had no idea when I would finish it. I was truly taking my time with that one, but it ended up being worth it.
Below is my recap, in full. What did you read this month? What were your favorites and least favorites? Let me know in the comments below!
January Reading Recap:
Books Read: 12 / Pages Read: 3,718 / Average Rating: 3.8
Favorite Read: A Darker Shade of Magic
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / The only fantasy books I’ve read in the last decade are Harry Potter and A Song of Ice & Fire. I am utterly unfamiliar with the genre. ADSOM has reinvigorated my appetite for all this mystical and magical. I devoured this beautiful book slowly, and I loved everything about it. This book impacted me so much that I turned my Camp Nanowrimo project into a fantasy story. I can’t wait to read the sequels (but also, I totally can because I don’t want them to be over).
Least Favorite Read: Paper Ghosts
⭐️⭐️ / This arc by Julie Heaberlin was a creative and mildly refreshing take on the thriller genre. It was pretty free of tropes and old familiar tricks, but, personally, I never felt thrilled or tricked. The perspective and pacing failed to magnetize me through the story, and the plot twists were less than twisty. The vague development of the protagonist left me utterly confused and unsatisfied. While this story was laced with interesting tidbits of true crime, it’s definitely not a book I’d recommend to anyone looking for a compelling, suspenseful story.
They All Fall Down : ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / Tammy Cohen’s book has already found a home on UK shelves, but it was released to the US in March. The story focuses on a woman in a mental health institution who is convinced that recent deaths of her fellow patients are not suicides, as the doctors had claimed, but deep, dark, malevolent murder. This thriller had likable characters and genuinely good storytelling. It was a fresh take on the thriller genre, and it was interesting at every turn.
Let’s No One Get Hurt : ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / I requested this ARC 90% because of its gorgeous cover and 10% because of its description, and I am so happy that I did. The story follows Pearl, a teenage girl squatting in an abandoned boathouse with her father and two other men. They live off the land, and Pearl must confront a huge case of classism with the rich boys that live nearby. This book was heartbreaking, heartwarming, and heartfelt. I’m such a sucker for poetic prose, and Pineda’s delivery of this coming-of-age story is beyond graceful.
Something Wicked This Way Comes : ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / Fahrenheit 451 is one of my favorite books of all time, so I was more than happy to pick up another Ray Bradbury tome. Two young boys stumble upon a creepy circus that’s come to town, and when they discover its dark magic, they must fight and escape from the evil ringleaders. This book was genuinely creepy, even though it’s about a couple of kids. It’s a nightmarish, whimsical story, the likes of which we’ve only imagined when we were children ourselves. Yet again, I’ve placed a Bradbury book among my most treasured reads.
The Great Alone : ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / I finished this book exactly fifteen days ago, but it’s sat with me so strongly that I feel like I finished it yesterday. Kristin Hannah stole me away with her incredibly vivid imagery of the Alaskan bush and suspenseful of young love within a serious family drama. I was a little underwhelmed with the second half of the book, but the story is so vast that many of these characters will sit in my heart for a long time to come.
Untamed: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ / I’ve been hard at work rereading the House of Night series from my childhood bookshelf. I’ll ultimately review the series as a whole, but the fourth entry in the series impressed me a little bit more than the preceding novels. The drama of a vampire high school is still as outrageous as ever, but it’s nice to see Zoey, our protagonist, mature. As always, I cherish the pagan symbolism of many of the icons in the book.
The Prisoner of Azkaban: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / Do I even need to discuss this one? I’m three books into my rereading of the Harry Potter books, which have been sitting untouched since The Deathly Hallows was released. And of course, I am loving it. I was surprised to see how the final confrontation with Siriusdiffers from the movie. Sirius is described as being he only man not to have gone mad in Azkaban, and totally calm and rational. I also felt like he was more straightforward about not wanting to kill Harry, whereas in the movie, Sirius definitely seems like a psycho hell-bent on murdering the boy who lived. They lead us on a bit more. And I’m not complaining; Gary Oldman is a treasure.
The Immortalists: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / The hype is real for this book, let me tell you. The story of the four siblings who seek out a psychic and learn the date of their death is totally charming. I fell in love with Chloe Benjamin’s characters. She’s a master at development, and she’s driven her message home in such a sympathetic and beautiful way. The concept of life and death within this story is treated so gracefully.
Red Clocks: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ / I was excited for this book weeks before it was released, but my expectations probably got in the way of my enjoyment. Where I was expecting a piece of pro-choice, feminist literature, I actually experienced a nuanced look into a “what-if” scenario of womanhood. What if abortion was illegal? Leni Zumas doesn’t claim any right or wrongs; she makes us think. I respect and appreciate that viewpoint, but the intellectual prose and often-abstract storytelling left me looking for more passion, fervor, anger, and the instinctual gut reaction that I’d hoped Red Clocks would elicit.
Post Office: ⭐️⭐️ / This was my first Bukowski book, and I enjoyed it. With older books, especially ones written by alcoholic, indulgent, boisterous macho-men, the stories are usually quick and easy to swallow. Bukowski’s semi-autobiographical story of a postal worker was just shy of 200 pages, and full of obscene humor and bitter messages about classism. But I had to fill stop at 40 pages in when a weirdly brief rape scene happens and is dismissed, never to be discussed again. I don’t necessarily want to be the Feminist Who Ruins Things, but yes, alright, I was triggered.
The House of Impossible Beauties: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / Joseph Cassara reeled my heart in with his beautiful cast of characters, and then promptly shredded my emotions to pieces. The story takes place in 1980s New York City, and focuses on a house of four queer working people, as they move throughout the drag scene and learn about love. I love these characters. I could say to a thousand times. This book was a gem, and had me in absolute tears at more than a few moments. It took me a while to finish this book, but it is hands-down one of my favorite reads of the year (possibly of all-time).