March Wrap-Up

Happy April everyone!

Thanks to Spring Break and a couple different book clubs to motivate me (as well as being sick for all of Spring Break and not being able to do much else), I managed to read a lot this month! Nine books! That’s the most I’ve read in a single month in quite a while. I also kind of unintentionally ended up participating in Middle Grade March. I’m looking for a new read-aloud to do with my sixth graders, and I want to do something I haven’t done in previous years. And, as someone who likes to plan and be prepared, I wanted to read some different options myself first before offering them to my students. Therefore, I read four different middle grade books this month (well, I’m actually still in the middle of one, but I’ll finish it this weekend!), and they were all great! I’ll have some good options to let my students vote on come Monday. I also participated in not one, but two book clubs this month! I read a bizarre, philosophical mystery for my usual book club, but I also signed up to participate in an alumni book club with my university. So it ended up being a really great reading month for me!

Testing season starts in earnest for public schools in April, and there are no scheduled days off for me next month, so I’ll definitely read less in April than I did in March. But that’s okay! I’m just hopeful that I’ll keep feeling motivated to read like I have over the last few weeks. My first goal will be to finish A Man Called Ove, because I started that a while ago and then got distracted by other things. I’m also hoping to read The Lightning Thief because my teaching partner and I are hoping to end the school year with a fun novel study of it, and I’ve never read it before! Otherwise, I’m planning to listen to my April book club book on audio, so I’m confident I’ll finish at least one audiobook this month (plus the two that I’m in the middle of right now, so technically three!).

As for blogging, I would love to post some reviews and Top Ten Tuesday posts, but we’ll see. I’ve been really stressed and overwhelmed with work lately, which has made it harder to have the time and energy for blogging. My plan is to just play it by ear and do whatever’s right for me and my mental health, but I’m hopeful I’ll be able to engage more with blogging next month!

Finally, now that we’re a quarter of the way through 2023, I thought I’d take a quick moment to reflect on my annual reading goals. In two of them I’m really excelling! Unfortunately, with the other three I’m really behind. But that’s okay! There’s still plenty of time to correct that. I’m more than on track to meet my goal of reading 48 books this year (I’m already almost halfway there), and I’m also more than halfway to meeting my goal of reading 20 books that I physically own. However, I haven’t read any classics nor any books in Spanish, and I’ve only read two long books (both of which were audiobooks). With the stress I’ve been dealing with at my job, it sometimes makes it difficult to find the energy to read, so I’ve really just been prioritizing reading whatever seems interesting and doable for me (which has been a lot of shorter books as well as a lot of YA and middle grade). And I’m totally fine with how I’ve been approaching my reading so far this year! There’s really no point if I’m not picking things that I’ll be able to enjoy, and I’m confident that I’ll be able to tackle things that challenge me more (i.e. classics, Spanish language books, and long books) later on this year. I just have to make it to the end of this school year first!

Without further ado, here is my wrap-up of all the books I read in March:

To learn more about a book, click on the photo to find the Goodreads synopsis.

Stats and Overall Thoughts:

Books read: 9
Physical books: 7
(Books that I physically own: 7)
Audiobooks: 2

Fiction: 8
Nonfiction: 1
(Long books: 0)

Average monthly rating: 4.2
Top Book of March: The Door of No Return

*To learn more about a book, click on the photo to find the Goodreads synopsis.

5-star books:

  • Heartstopper: Volume 3 by Alice Oseman (Romance, YA, Paperback)
    • This was so cute!! It’s definitely a little heavier than Volume 2, which I liked. I think it did a great job exploring those early days of a relationship when you’re still kind of in the honeymoon phase but also getting to the point where things feel a little more serious. You’re still so excited about this person, feeling tempted but nervous to say the “L” word, but also hesitant to share too much of yourself in the fears that it might drive the other person away. It’s just such a perfect representation of young love and those exciting early days of a new relationship. Something else I really loved about it is the positive portrayal of consent and what good communication looks like in healthy relationships. Nick and Charlie are both so open and aware of each other’s boundaries, and I love that the book takes the time to show the conversations that take place to make this happen. I just think that’s so important for young people to see, and I really adore this series so far!
  • The Door of No Return by Kwame Alexander (Historical Fiction, Upper Middle Grade, Hardcover)
    • I just finished this book (a few hours before writing this review) and WOW. I’ve been reading more middle grade books than usual this month to find a new read-aloud to do with my class, and I was not expecting this one to have as much of an impact on me as it did. I’ll try to be brief (both to save some details for my review and to avoid spoilers), but this is a powerful middle grade novel-in-verse (possibly the best novel-in-verse that I’ve read). It’s lyrical and mesmerizing and impossible to put down (especially in the second half). I would classify this as upper middle grade because the second half has some violence that I think could be intense for younger or less mature readers, but it’s still accessible to readers of almost any age. For that reason, I would highly recommend this to intermediate readers and adults! Review coming soon!
  • Heartstopper: Volume 4 by Alice Oseman (Romance, YA, Paperback)
    • Volume 4 did not disappoint! It was cute and funny at times, but it also tackled some really serious themes about mental illness and eating disorders. I just think it’s so important for young people to have access to stories like this that have such positive representation and portrayal of healthy ways to deal with really difficult situations. At times I wondered if it was maybe a little heavy-handed in its messaging, but considering the target audience and the heavy themes (and how rare it is to encounter them in other mainstream media/literature for young people), I think this was perfectly done. I can’t wait to read Volume 5 when it comes out!

4.5-star books:

  • Heartstopper: Volume 2 by Alice Oseman (Romance, YA, Paperback)
    • Another cute installment in this series!! I didn’t love it quite as much as the first one (and there wasn’t much of a plot), but I still loved all of the characters and the themes this addressed. I also thought Oseman did a great job of capturing what young, first love feels like. There were some moments when I was thinking the corny-ness was a little over the top, but then I realized how similar some of the scenarios were to when my now-husband and I first started dating in high school… So I’d say it was an accurate level of corny-ness! I also loved how explicitly it addressed coming out and how everyone has a right to go about sharing these parts of their identity in their own way and in whatever amount of time is right for them. I think it’s important for young readers to see a healthy portrayal of this, and to see the partners in a relationship being supportive of each other’s needs. I can’t wait to read the next one!

4-star books:

  • Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson (Realistic Fiction, Audiobook)
    • I read this for an alumni book club event with my alma mater, and I really enjoyed it! It wasn’t a perfect book; I felt the writing was a little pedantic at times (sometimes even citing statistics within the narrative) and it tried to tackle too many themes that didn’t really add much to the story. However, I really enjoyed the main characters (the mom and the two siblings who’ve had a falling out); I thought the characters were complex and I enjoyed learning more about their backgrounds through flashbacks and listening to the mom’s recording. I also enjoyed the historical parts set on an (unnamed) island in the Caribbean, they were well-researched and vividly described. Overall, a fascinating story about a complicated family with lots of secrets!
  • A Rover’s Story by Jasmine Warga (Science Fiction, Middle Grade, Hardcover)
    • This was a really cute story! I read it to see how it compared to Other Words for Home, which is one of my favorites. I didn’t love nearly as much, but it was still worth reading. The characters were the best part of the story; the non-human characters had such fun personalities that I could imagine young readers completely falling in love with. However, overall, I think the story will end up being kind of forgettable. Review coming soon!
  • Portrait of an Unknown Lady by Maria Gainza (Mystery, Hardcover)
    • I read this for the virtual book club that I’m a part of and I really enjoyed it! I’ve been reading a lot of middle grade and young adult fiction lately, so it was nice to read something that challenged me a little more than usual. Okay, a lot more than usual. I’m grateful to be reading this with a book club filled with great readers, because I’m definitely going to need to discuss this one to really fully understand everything that went on! It’s a mystery, but in theme rather than structure. It’s not suspenseful and the purpose isn’t really to solve the mystery that plagues the main character. It feels very… stream of consciousness, I guess? It’s very reflective and takes its time to ponder themes of authenticity and art, among other things. It’s definitely theme-driven, as there’s not much of a plot. It’s short and interesting, though, so if it sounds at all interesting to you then you should definitely check it out!

      *Update: after listening to my book club’s discussion on this book, I think everyone else was just as confused as I was! But it brought up some interesting discussions about forgery (especially regarding translation, which I thought was fascinating as it’s not really something I had considered before). There were also some really interesting themes about memory that pondered if memory itself is just another form of forgery… I don’t have answers to any of these questions (and neither does the book), but it’s interesting to think about!

3.5-star books:

  • Paola Santiago and the River of Tears by Tehlor Kay Mejia (Fantasy, Middle Grade, Hardcover)
    • This was a really fun book! I’ll share more details in a review that I’ll (hopefully) write soon, but overall I enjoyed this. The beginning was really strong: suspenseful and spooky, and the characters immediately came to life on the page. I also really loved the exploration and representation of various parts of Mexican folklore/mythology. However, my main issue with this book was pacing. It felt overly long, with too much exposition in places. It also sometimes felt repetitive in the descriptions and dialogue. And there were certain parts that just felt really unbelievable to me, but to be honest, I’m not a big fantasy reader so that could just be my issue. Overall, a fun and unique middle grade novel, and I’m looking forward to reading the sequels! Review coming soon!

2.5-star books:

  • Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing by Matthew Perry (Memoir, Audiobook)
    • I love Friends, and I really wanted to love this, but alas… I struggle to rate memoirs, so I want to be clear that this rating is not based on the content of the memoir. Because how could you rate someone’s life? This rating is based on the quality of the writing, and also the misogynistic descriptions of women because there were a lot of moments in here that just left me feeling… icky. Overall, though, the writing is just not good. It wanders and meanders, and it’s just so repetitive and tedious that it felt like a chore to finish. I had a hard time following what part of his life he was talking about, and why he was including certain details. It desperately needed either a better editor or a different ghost writer, because Perry just comes off as being deeply unlikeable and narcissistic. It’s not inspirational, eye-opening, enlightening, or really all that funny… So it just left me wondering why it was even written in the first place? What was the goal of sharing this story with the world? That being said, I feel for Perry and his struggles with addiction and I hope he is able to fight off his demons for good!

How did your reading go in March? Any stand-out books to recommend?

Let me know in the comments! And thanks for reading (my blog, but also just in general)!

3 thoughts on “March Wrap-Up

  1. In March I got a bday present, it was a book called ‘The Beautiful Mrs. Seidenman’. I started reading it last night as a treat after going to the dentist. It made me laugh, I loved it. It’s very serious and funny at the same time, this is how I should also describe myself.

    Liked by 1 person

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