Saturday, April 01, 2023

March: What I Read


(Can I just say that I read a ton of really good backlist books this month? The Great Circle just blew me away, and Crossroads was an unexpected delight.)

 March books, in order of excellence:

Maybe Now by Colleen Hoover: NOPE. THIS IS REALLY HORRIBLE. DO NOT READ IT. Unless, like me, you are fascinated with CoHo as a social phenomenon and feel the need to devour her entire oeuvre.  **Audio

Every Summer After by Carley Fortune: Lots of good reviews, but this one was just OK for me.

The Friendship Breakup by Annie Cathryn: I liked how breezy and fun this book was, but the plot had some major holes. A great topic, though! **2023

River Sing Me Home by Eleanor Shearer: I feel like I am going to be the only person I know who only kind of liked this book. **2023

Bad Vibes Only by Nora McInerny: She is a delightful essayist, and this book is great!

The Island by Adrian McKinty: I COULD NOT STOP LISTENING TO THIS THRILLER. So scary and action-packed. In retrospect, not very well written, but at the time, I was HOOKED. **Audio

A Dangerous Business by Jane Smiley: This was a delightful little romp about gold rush prostitutes solving a murder. how fun to just be, like, an awesome established writer and be like um okay guys. I am in the mood for a TOTAL DEPARTURE. The writing didn’t even really sound like her.

Finlay Donovan Knocks ‘Em Dead by Elle Cosimano: Darling. Can’t wait for #3. But I will wait because I don’t want to use an Audible credit on it. THERE IS A NEW CURTIS SITTENFELD IN THREE DAYS, people **Audio

Ms. Demeanor by Elinor Lipman: I LOVE HER and was so delighted to see a new book of hers on the shelf. This was breezy and charming but maybe resolved too fast and then kept going. 

Big Swiss by Jean Beagin: What was this? **2023

 Lives of the Wives: Five Literary Marriages by Carmela Ciuraru: Really, you just need to read the intro and the Roald (pronounced Roo-all which WHAT) Dahl chapter. **2023

The Anthropocene Reviewed by John Green: LOVE LOVE LOVE. LOVE. This collection of essays is WONDERFUUUUUUUL. I cried. I laughed. SO GOOD. **Audio

Crossroads by Jonathan Franzen: I usually DO NOT LIKE Franzen. He is just so... I don't know... the reason I usually only read books by women. And this book is the first book in a trilogy called The Key to all Mythologies which HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. SO SELF-IMPORTANT. But, anyway, I really liked this one. Maybe because I listened to it? **Audio

Exiles by Jane Harper: I get the sense from this book that maaaaybe Harper was not going to write so many Aaron Falk books but then they were a huge it, so she did. I say this because all of the sudden there is back story that never existed before, and this is kind of a pet peeve of mine, but it happens in every series, even the ones I love, so I went with it. I really liked this one even though it was easier to guess and the book didn’t feature the weather as a character, like her other books have. She’s one of my favorite thriller authors, and a new book of hers is delightful, even if I have a few quibbles. **2023

Georgie, All Along by Kate Clayborn: Loved this one. Clayborn is my favorite romance author, and this book was a delight from start to finish. **2023

Hester by Laurie Lico Albanese: Listen, folks. I am no Hawthorne fan, and I am getting mighty sick of all of this revisioning of old IP. BUT THIS ONE IS REALLY GOOD. (The Scarlet Letter) **Audio

The House of Eve by Sadeqa Johnson: This was wildly entertaining, and I liked it a lot. BUT. I had some problems. Maybe because I read a bunch of Rickie Solinger in grad school (Wake Up Little Susie is particularly relevant here), but I did not like the neat little bow everything got tied up in at the end. I really did like reading this one, though.

The Sweet Spot by Amy Poeppel: This is wonderful-- original characters, almost formulaic but then messes with the formula on purpose to subvert readers' expectations. I smiled almost the whole time I was reading it and even teared up a bit **2023

The Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead: WOW. So, there are 2 equally compelling timelines going on, and she makes me feel like that are BOTH populated with real people and that I am reading about an actual contemporary famous person and a real historical hero. IT'S SO GOOD. **Audio

Really Good, Actually by Monica Heisey: SO funny and charming and sweet. Definitely read this one. **2023


And my favorite 2023 reads in March:

This Month:


9 books published in 2023

13 print and 7 audio

This Year:

61 books

21 books published in 2023

33 print and 28 audio


  1. Exiles is on my nightstand, and I feel better prepared for it after reading your review. I have been really worried that I won't like it as much as the others -- I feel like there is a theme of some of my favorite authors being pressured (although this is purely imagination on my part) to produce, and the book quality suffering drastically.

    Great Circle has been on my list for awhile and this really makes me eager to move it up to the top!

    Big Swiss sounds so interesting!!! But... maybe not?

    Now I am going to add The Island to my TBR! I love a good thriller, even if it doesn't hold up to scrutiny after the fact. Just SUCK ME IN, PLEASE.

    And I totally reject "Roo-al." No. That cannot be.

    1. I LIKED Big Swiss, but it is wild. I agree re: the pressure on popular authors. That’s how this book felt to me.

  2. Exiles is in my queue and I'm a little apprehensive now after your review, but I also didn't love the second Aaron Falk, and my favourite is probably The Survivors, so I should stop being weird. I agree SO MUCH about the Jane Smiley, how fun. The one Adrian Mckinty book I read was quite bad, so I wasn't planning to read this, and I don't really do audio (my attention wanders, but such a smart way to read more when you're as busy as you must be), so in sum I have decided nothing. I liked The Corrections, but after Freedom and reading more ABOUT Jonathan Franzen I had put him on my no-fly list, but my principles are wobbly, so again, now indecisive.
    Roo-al? Ha, ha, no.

    1. McKinty IS bad, I think. I started another one of his and DNF. SAME response to Franzen. This one popped up as available in my Libby app, and I really enjoyed it. Ok, this sounds weird, but if your attention wanders, I think you need to listen to your audio books FASTER. I usually do 2.25 speed.

  3. Anonymous7:30 PM

    Lisa here. I have not heard good things about Big Swiss. But somehow it’s buzzy? I can’t wait to read Georgie. My fave books of the month were ‘in love’ which is a memoir about a man’s decision to go to Switzerland for assisted suicide when dx’d with Alzheimer’s and Signal Fires by Dani Shapiro. In love was our book club and we had an excellent discussion. Nearly everyone had someone close to them die from Alzheimer’s.

    1. Big Swiss is really funny and weird, but I was not blown away. I like Dani Shapiro and need to put Signal Fires on my list

  4. The Great Circle is on my TBR list and I didn't really know much about it, so I'm happy to hear it's good.

    I really adore Kate Clayborn and I think she might be my favorite romance author right now. I don't know why she's not better known!

    1. I KNOW. I follow her on IG, and she has a regular office job because her books aren't her main income source and WHAT?! She's great!

  5. I think I need to try Anthropocene on audio. I tried it in print and it just didn't work for me in that format. Or maybe I wasn't in the right headspace.

    Georgie, All Along was soooo good. I loved it, too!

    Roo-all? Absolutely not.

    1. he's a really charming reader-- very earnest and dorky, exactly as I imagine.