March 2023 Reading Update

After 3 long years, COVID finally got me this month. Despite by vaccines and boosters, it hit me hard and reading was not possible for many days of sickness, which was so sad for me. However, I was able to catch up to my normal speed by the end of the month! This month I read I range of books, many that have been on my TBR pile for a while. After adding Germany to my nation of origin lists I wanted to share my January-March chart, demonstrating how I am reaching my goal to read more books from a wider range of countries.

  • The Writing Retreat by Juila Bartz – While most of the characters annoyed me throughout the story, I enjoyed the book overall. Alex is chosen to join an elite group at a private writer’s retreat in the home of her favorite author. The retreat includes her ex best friend, which creates some drama that felt like YA even though the characters are in their 20’s and 30’s. The famed author creates some harsh expectations and the retreat goes from fun to weird to creepy to horrifying!
  • The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai – This book has some similarities to The Heart’s Invisible Furies. This was a saga that spanned multiple decades, and covered the AIDS crisis of the 80’s in Chicago and the art world in Paris during WWI. We get to know Yale, working in the art world in Chicago as his friends are slowly dying from AIDS, and Fiona, the sister of Yale’s good friend, who ends up as the caretaker to an entire group of friends. We also follow Fiona’s travels in Paris in 2015 as she searches for her daughter. As the story flashes back and forth, we learn more about found family, friendship, health care, and grief through their eyes. It’s a beautifully bittersweet story about an awful time in our not too distant past.
  • The Life Council: 10 Friends Every Woman Needs by Laura Tremaine – This book publishes on April 4. I preordered this book because I love Laura, but because I’m a member of her Secret Stuff patreon group, I got access to a digital ARC and read it in 2 days. What a joyous read! I just finished and I have happy tears in my eyes! I love everything that Laura Tremaine creates, from her witty Instagram captions to her SM challenges to her podcasts and books! Laura’s outline of the 10 friends every woman needs is great advice for women of all ages. Her personal friendship stories along the way make each Life Council seat real and relevant and filled with love and laughter. I think every woman needs this book and the reflection of who fills the seats in our own Life Councils. I’ve decided a need more Yes Friends in my life so let me know if that is you!
  • I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson – I have no idea why I purchsed this e-book (probably an Amazon sale), but it was the exact YA book I needed this weekend! I love a book with two narrators and two timelines! We are following twins Jude and Noah, as Noah gives us the backstory from two years ago and Jude updates us from the present. As we learn more about their family and their passions (art and surfing and nature), we see the web of lies they are each caught up on in and wait to see them untangle themselves. This was a sweet story with some trauma, some LGBTQ support, and lots of love.
  • Have I Told You This Already? Stories I Don’t Want to Forget to Remember by Lauren Graham [audiobook]- I love Lauren Graham as an actress and I like her as an author. I enjoy listening to her books on audio, because she is a good narrator and I’m used to fast talking from watching Gilmore Girls (and listening to myself!). This essay collection was not as good as some of her others. I think she had fewer stories to tell, so these were peppered with a lot of silly language plays-on-words, jokes, and some were very short. Some, however, were poignant and some were very funny, and overall this was a quick fun audiobook!
  • The Lost Man by Jane Harper – This was a mystery, which I love, but so unlike anything I’ve read in a long time. This story takes place in the Outback of Australia, where people live very remote and often lonely lives in very dangerous terrains. When brothers Nathan and Bub meet up over their other brother’s dead body, we follow them on the journey to figure out what happened. We learn about a family full of love and abuse, travels and farmers, and everything in between. I loved each of the flawed characters and I loved the ending! I’ve read one another Jane Harper book and this was my favorite of hers so far!
  • Dear Child by Romy Hausmann – I loved this book, translated from German! It’s a propulsive thriller that has multiple narrators (not all reliable!), telling us the story flasshing back and forward in time. The story starts when a college girl, Lena, goes missing. Years later we meet a woman in the hospital after a car accident and it’s possible this is the missing Lena. However, figuring out who the woman is, where she has been, and what has happened, is a serious mytery that takes time and other people to unravel. Lots of trigger warnings for tough stuff in this book, but a great read!
  • Wishtree by Katherine Applegate [audiobook]- This is a cute middle grades story narrated by a tree. Red is a 200 year old tree who has seen a lot in the neighborhood over the years. Red became the local wishing tree, where everyone comes on May 1 to add something to her limbs to represent their wishes. Red speaks to all of the local animals who live in and near her. She sees the good, the sad, and the ugly, especially when something mean is carved into her bark. We meet the people around the neighborhood as seen through Red’s eye. Red and Bongo, a corvid, partner up to help a new girl whose wish is for a friend, in this sweet story. I loved these characters almost as much as those in The One and Only Ivan, also by this author.
  • The Attic Child by Lola Jaye – This was a beautiful, bittersweet story of two different people living 90 years apart and experiencing similar trauma, and their lives before and after said trauma. In one timeline we meet Dikembe who lives in the Congo with his family, until a British explorer takes him back to live in English as a posh school boy until things go from bizarre to bad. In the more current timeline, we meet Lowra who is a young adult trying to create a life for herself after surviving her own childhood trauma, in the same house were Dikembe, renamed Celestine, was brought decades before. As Lowra digs into the past she learns about Dikembe/ Celestine, she learns about herself as well. This story had me enthralled, sickened, crying tears of sadness and joy, and hopeful! It’s another reminder of the atrocities that Europe committed on the people of African nations, with little to none of the stories people told from multiple perspectives.
  • A Better Man (Armand Gamache #15) by Louise Penny – I can’t believe that I have almost caught up to the current publication in this series. After 15 books, I love Three Pines so much! The place, the people, the friendships, the sarcasm, and whole world created by Louise Penny. This book was bittersweet because it was the last case Jean Guy will work as a police man. I loved seeing him, Armand, and Isabelle all back together again, solving the mystery and trying to save the world.

Favorite book(s) of the month

Fiction: The Attic Child by Lola Jaye

Nonfiction: The Life Council: 10 Friends Every Woman Needs by Laura Tremaine

About Amy's Reflections

Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services in Southern CA, taking time to reflect on leadership and learning
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