March Reads and Reviews

Good morning and Happy Monday! I hope you all had a great weekend. Mine was very busy but so fun- one of my friends ran in the Umstead 100 Miler (that's not a typo- she ran 100 miles!!). I got to pace her for one of her 12.5 mile loops, and then Dan and I both volunteered at the race. It was probably the most fun I've had at a race, maybe ever? I'll definitely be back again next year!

Today I'll be sharing the books that I read in March! There was a huge mix of duds and great books, along with some vacation reads and Book Club picks. Here's how the month of reading went-


The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner

A female apothecary secretly dispenses poisons to liberate women from the men who have wronged them - setting three lives across centuries on a dangerous collision course.

One cold February evening in 1791, at the back of a dark London alley in a hidden apothecary shop, Nella awaits her newest customer. Once a respected healer, Nella now uses her knowledge for a darker purpose - selling well-disguised poisons to desperate women who would kill to be free of the men in their lives. But when her new patron turns out to be a precocious twelve-year-old named Eliza Fanning, an unexpected friendship sets in motion a string of events that jeopardizes Nella’s world and threatens to expose the many women whose names are written in her register.

In present-day London, aspiring historian Caroline Parcewell spends her tenth wedding anniversary alone, reeling from the discovery of her husband’s infidelity. When she finds an old apothecary vial near the river Thames, she can’t resist investigating, only to realize she’s found a link to the unsolved “apothecary murders” that haunted London over two centuries ago. As she deepens her search, Caroline’s life collides with Nella’s and Eliza’s in a stunning twist of fate - and not everyone will survive.

This was my book club's first pick of the month and I really enjoyed it. It's not a book that I would have picked up on my own, but I loved the story line. It changes from the past to the present, and is a mystery within a mystery! Some parts I didn't like as much, like Caroline and her husband's story, but it was so fun following along with Nella. In general my entire book club really liked this one and we had lots to talk about.

My Rating - 4/5


The Boyfriend Project by Farrah Rochon

Samiah Brooks never thought she would be 'that' girl. But a live tweet of a horrific date just revealed the painful truth: she's been catfished by a three-timing jerk of a boyfriend. Suddenly Samiah - along with his two other 'girlfriends', London and Taylor - have gone viral online. Now the three new besties are making a pact to spend the next six months investing in themselves. No men, no dating, and no worrying about their relationship status...

For once Samiah is putting herself first, and that includes finally developing the app she's always dreamed of creating. Which is the exact moment she meets the deliciously sexy, honey-eyed Daniel Collins at work. What are the chances? When it comes to love, there's no such thing as a coincidence. But is Daniel really boyfriend material or is he maybe just a little too good to be true?


I took this with me to Myrtle Beach and it was a good beach read- very easy and fluffy without too much substance underneath. I liked the characters a lot and enjoyed their interactions (I also heard that this will be a trilogy with the others focusing on London and Taylor which would be exciting!). Overall there were just too many crazy story lines going on and it would have been better if it would just stay simple.

My Rating - 3/5

The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave

Note- this won goodread's Best Mystery & Thriller of 2021
We all have stories we never tell. Before Owen Michaels disappears, he manages to smuggle a note to his beloved wife of one year: Protect her.

Despite her confusion and fear, Hannah Hall knows exactly to whom the note refers: Owen’s sixteen-year-old daughter, Bailey. Bailey, who lost her mother tragically as a child. Bailey, who wants absolutely nothing to do with her new stepmother.

As Hannah’s increasingly desperate calls to Owen go unanswered; as the FBI arrests Owen’s boss; as a US Marshal and FBI agents arrive at her Sausalito home unannounced, Hannah quickly realizes her husband isn’t who he said he was. And that Bailey just may hold the key to figuring out Owen’s true identity—and why he really disappeared.

Hannah and Bailey set out to discover the truth, together. But as they start putting together the pieces of Owen’s past, they soon realize they are also building a new future. One neither Hannah nor Bailey could have anticipated.


Loved the first 75% of this book. So much suspense, foreshadowing, and I loved the writing. Couldn't put it down! Plus- I've always kind of wanted to live in a house boat so the settings really drew me in. Then the last part where the pieces went in to place were such a let down. I wish it had a different ending because it was off to such a great start.

My Rating - 2.5/5

Full by Julia Spiro

Wellness influencer Ava Maloney’s enormous success is based on total transparency, extolling the well-documented virtues of her full, balanced life. But the truth is, Ava’s social media platform is built on a lie. And her double life is beginning to take its toll.

Escaping Los Angeles for a luxury wellness retreat on Martha’s Vineyard, Ava believes she can get everything back on track. No fans will be the wiser to the real reason for her visit. With the help of the other guests, staff, and a supportive local, Ava begins regaining control of her body, her mind, and her life. Except someone is onto her, threatening to expose the secret she’s hidden for so long. Ava was prepared to face her demons, but not publicly. Not yet.

The fallout might also force Ava to finally reconcile who she’s been pretending to be with who she actually is—a woman discovering the real meaning of a full and balanced life.


Just a heads up- this should have ALL the trigger warnings! Was not ready for so much of it to be around eating disorders and was VERY graphic in descriptions of bingeing and purging (not really a spoiler since this is all revealed in the second chapter). I read this along with a friend since it was one of Amazon's free Kindle books of the month, and we were both disappointed by it.

This really fell flat to me...I didn't find anything likable about Ava. She seemed like a caricature of a social media celebrity, and while a lot of what she was doing is probably very common in that space she didn't have any real depth to me, and the changes she went through didn't seem believable. This almost read as a first draft of a book that needs more added. Only good part was that it was a quick read and I loved all the descriptions of where she was staying and the food sounded amazing (even if she described them all in such a hateful, fearful way).

My Rating - 1.5/5

The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller

It is a perfect July morning, and Elle, a fifty-year-old happily married mother of three, awakens at "The Paper Palace" -- the family summer place which she has visited every summer of her life. But this morning is different: last night Elle and her oldest friend Jonas crept out the back door into the darkness and had sex with each other for the first time, all while their spouses chatted away inside.

Now, over the next twenty-four hours, Elle will have to decide between the life she has made with her genuinely beloved husband, Peter, and the life she always imagined she would have had with her childhood love, Jonas, if a tragic event hadn't forever changed the course of their lives.

As Heller colors in the experiences that have led Elle to this day, we arrive at her ultimate decision with all its complexity. Tender yet devastating, The Paper Palace considers the tensions between desire and dignity, the legacies of abuse, and the crimes and misdemeanors of families.


This was the second book club pick of the month, but was not as warmly received as The Lost Apothecary! I actually liked this one even more- the characters really came to life and I liked the writing style of switching back and forth between present day (recapping the 24 hours after Elle and Jonas sleep together) and Elle's childhood. This was definitely a very graphic book with so many disturbing parts, so it's definitely not for the faint of heart. But- it was a really unique story that was beautifully told, and showed how flawed people are even when they have the best intentions (and how people with bad intentions can really screw up other people's lives).

My Rating - 4.5/5

Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave

Growing up on her family’s Sonoma vineyard, Georgia Ford learned some important secrets. The secret number of grapes it takes to make a bottle of wine: eight hundred. The secret ingredient in her mother’s lasagna: chocolate. The secret behind ending a fight: hold hands.

But just a week before her wedding, thirty-year-old Georgia discovers her beloved fiancé has been keeping a secret so explosive, it will change their lives forever.

Georgia does what she’s always done: she returns to the family vineyard, expecting the comfort of her long-married parents, and her brothers, and everything familiar. But it turns out her fiancĂ© is not the only one who’s been keeping secrets…


Apparently I'm not really a fan of Laura Dave, because this one was also disappointing to me. Once again- the setting was amazing. Who doesn't dream of living on a vineyard in wine country! But, other than that there were little redeeming qualities to me. There were so many dramatic story lines going on and I didn't find any of the characters likable (except maybe the dad?). Even this was a short book it took me forever to finish and I should have just given up from the beginning.

My Rating - 2/5



Audiobooks

This month I listened to some audiobooks and found it really enjoyable while I was out driving or on a walk! I'll be sharing these in a separate section each month since it's not really the same experience as reading a physical book.

Just As I Am by Cicely Tyson - Learned a lot about a Hollywood icon, who has been through so much in her storied career. It's incredible what she's done for the Black community and I loved reading her story.

Stories I Only Tell My Friends - I saw this recommended by a friend and had to listen while I was driving home from Savannah! I enjoyed the first half of Rob getting into acting and the Hollywood scene a lot more than the second half, but it was another great story.


What did you read this month?
Any great audio book recommendations?

Comments

  1. Wow, you are quite a reader! I spend so much time reading blogs, that I seldom ever pick up a real book these days. I know, my bad. This is an interesting mix, and you've given me some great options to consider (now if only I could commit to reading more). Thanks for the suggestions ;-)

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    Replies
    1. I definitely starting reading way more during the past 2 years! I guess I needed some kind of outlet since I'm not traveling anymore :) good luck reading more!

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