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[Short Reviews] March Reads

I was on a good roll, but it was only a matter of time until life got in the way of my reading (and blogging). Work has been busier than usual this month, but I’ve also gone to three author events and started a new work-out routine – and to cap off the month, we got a new fur baby! It’s definitely been a month to remember!

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Friends, I’d like to introduce Oliver, our three-year old Shih Tzu rescue. Ollie here is quite the charmer, and already making fast friends with our cat Andy – we are so lucky to have him! Even with everything going on, I still found a little time to read, and hopefully I’ll be able to add a bit more blogging into the mix again soon!

March Favorites:

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Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit: A beautifully written novel set during World War II, Anna and the Swallowman follows seven-year-old Anna after her father, a linguistics professor, disappears during a German raid in Krakow. After spending days alone on the street with nowhere to go, she meets the mysterious “Swallow Man” who she wants very much to call Solomon, but as he later teaches her, names aren’t safe, especially when following the “rules of the road”. With a creative use of word play and symbolism, Sevit paints a haunting picture of their journey, all the while mixing Polish folklore and a touch of magical realism to create an unforgettable tale of friendship and circumstance. (4 Stars)

Carry This Book by Abbi Jacobson: Written by Abbi Jacobson, best known from Broad City, Carry This Book is the perfect choice for us snoops as she brings to life the imagined items found in the pockets and purses of celebrities. From Trump’s endless bottles of spray tan to Oprah’s spare gifts to leave under unsuspecting chairs – if you need a laugh, you should Carry This Book!  (4 Stars)

Universal Harvester by John Darnielle: Summarized under the horror genre, I was expecting a very different story than the one I read, but nonetheless, I loved every bit of it! Eerie from the start, the tone of Universal Harvester is beyond creepy as countless rentals are returned to a video store with cut-in scenes of the bizarre.  While searching for the perplexing source of the added footage, Jeremy, who works at the store, instead finds a way to reconcile the loss of his late mother. An emotional journey full of suspense and quiet, unsatisfying questions, Darnielle explores the complex relationship between mother and child. (4 Stars)

The Unbanking of America by Lisa Servon: Before I read The Unbanking of America, I found it almost impossible for someone to go without a bank account. I’ve always had one, even since I was a kid – doesn’t everyone? But, as Lisa Servon shows, there are a multitude of reasons why someone would used alternate methods such as a check cashier. While banks are a pillar of our community, they’re not designed to serve us accountably anymore, often causing more harm than good. (4 Stars)

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The Vegetarian by Han Kang: I read The Vegetarian during a single lunch break – it was that gripping! I seriously could not put it down. Following a woman who suffers from mental illness, her sudden change to vegetarianism takes her family by storm, inciting several hospital stays and an emotional all-out war between husband and wife. Shifting perspectives every few chapters, each character was more despicable than the last, but even so, I couldn’t stop reading! (4 Stars)

Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer: An all-consuming series riddled by fear of the unknown and a hunger to learn more, each book of The Southern Reach Trilogy was more un-put-downable than the last! Set in the future, a mysterious woods has overtaken much of the American west, an area aptly named Area X – but what is it? And what caused it to grow? And what creatures live there? Trust me, you’ll want to read at least the first book, Annihilation, before it hits the big screen this fall, starring Natalie Portman!! (5 Stars)

Buffering by Hannah Hart: Hannah Hart, better known for her YouTube series My Drunk Kitchen, is a true inspiration. After growing up poor with a parent who suffers from mental illness, Hannah’s suffered her share of hardships, but she’s never let it hold her back. Full of positivity and a can-do attitude, her story will make you laugh-cry over and over again. Bonus, she narrates the audiobook herself! (5 Stars)

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Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West: I was honored this month to meet the amazing, and incredibly funny, Lindy West! Dealing with the challenges of being overweight in a thin-minded society, her story is entirely too relatable. From having Miss Piggy as a the only role model, to a disastrously public pizza mishap, hers is a tale of inspiration for any woman trying to make a name for herself in a world of blindingly harsh expectations. I can’t wait to see Shrill on the big screen! (4 Stars)

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Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige: Caught by a tornado, Amy Gumm is whisked away from her trailer park life in Flat Hill, Kansas to the dusty outskirts of Oz, where the Hollywood glitz and glamour has long faded. Turns out Dorothy’s not so innocent, having returned to Oz, she’s drained the land of its magic for her own selfish desires. Joining rank with a group of powerful witches, Amy works to destroy Dorothy and return Oz to all its Technicolor splendor. I devoured this four-book series in a week, but luckily, there’s an entire prequel series too! I even found a pre-signed copy of the fourth book at Half Priced! Needless to say, I have another author to add to my list. (5 Stars)

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The Wanderers by Meg Howrey: Following a group of astronauts hand-picked for a trip to Mars, they must prove their commitment by spending seventeen months in a grueling, over-the-top simulation. A well written character study, much of the novel focuses on the interpersonal relationships between the group of astronauts as well as their families. It was a slow-build, but well worth the effort – it was especially interesting to see the characters shift from their working personas to a more emotional version of themselves when pressured by the simulation. I’m still not sure if my interpretation is correct, but perhaps that’s the point.  (3 Stars)

All Grown Up by Jami Attenberg: Who is Andrea Bern? There’s really no better introduction to All Grown Up than asking that very question as the novel hop, skips, and jumps around various moments from her life, all leading up to her final answer, the moment she finally accepts the drawbacks to adulthood and takes life into her own hands. While Andrea was a hard character to relate to, her experiences were all too familiar. From job hunting, to her first apartment, to navigating family expectations, much of her journey struck a chord, ultimately relating the importance of family and the choices we make, no matter how small they may seem. (3 Stars)

Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly: No month is complete without at least one Middle Grade novel. Virgil is a quiet kid, a little shy and a little too preoccupied with his guinea pig. Valencia might be deaf, but she never lets it hold her back. Kaori is a self proclaimed psychic, out on a mission to crack the code behind Virgil’s secret crush. And then there’s Chet, the notorious school bully. They aren’t friends, but after Chet pulls a seemingly innocent prank, Virgil gets trapped at the bottom of the well, leading the others on a quest to find him. An adorable story on the importance of friendship as each of the characters gains their own sense self. (4 Stars)

Dead Letters by Caite Dolan-Leach:  Having escaped her family to live in the “City of Light”, Ava finally comes home after hearing the devastating news that her twin sister, Zelda, has died in a fire… until a string of messages lead her to believe otherwise. Is Zelda really gone? What is she hiding from? With every clue came new questions just begging to be answered as more of her erratic family secrets are revealed. I just couldn’t put this one down until I had my answer, and neither will you! (4 Stars)

What were your March favorites?

 

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