March 2022 Wrap Up

March has been one of my best reading months in terms of quality for a long, long time! I read 13 books, and a few of them have been on my TBR for years and I always knew that they would be favourites.

Thank you for always supporting me!

A GHOST SHIP.
A SALVAGE CREW.
UNSPEAKABLE HORRORS.

Claire Kovalik is days away from being unemployed—made obsolete—when her beacon repair crew picks up a strange distress signal. With nothing to lose and no desire to return to Earth, Claire and her team decide to investigate.

What they find at the other end of the signal is a shock: the Aurora, a famous luxury space-liner that vanished on its maiden tour of the solar system more than twenty years ago. A salvage claim like this could set Claire and her crew up for life. But a quick trip through the Aurora reveals something isn’t right.

Whispers in the dark. Flickers of movement. Words scrawled in blood. Claire must fight to hold onto her sanity and find out what really happened on the Aurora, before she and her crew meet the same ghastly fate.

Do you have any SciFi horror recommendations? I think it is a genre I could really get into! There was a lot doing on in Dead Silence and it has me on the edge of my seat. The tension slowly builds and I had goosebumps the entire time I was reading. I think that the comparisons to the Titanic are apt, as much of the story takes place on board a luxury spaceship that has been missing for many years. I thought the inclusion of two timelines was interesting and added to the mystery. I appreciated Claire as the main character and that we got a lot about her past and how that affected the decisions that she ultimately made. I thought that the romance was unnecessary and a bit of a distraction, but I can understand wanting to add some lightness to an otherwise heavy story.

Pachinko follows one Korean family through the generations, beginning in early 1900s Korea with Sunja, the prized daughter of a poor yet proud family, whose unplanned pregnancy threatens to shame them all. Deserted by her lover, Sunja is saved when a young tubercular minister offers to marry and bring her to Japan.

So begins a sweeping saga of an exceptional family in exile from its homeland and caught in the indifferent arc of history. Through desperate struggles and hard-won triumphs, its members are bound together by deep roots as they face enduring questions of faith, family, and identity.

Pachinko has been sitting on my TBR shelves since it came out. It is one of those books that I just knew in my gut would become a new favourite and I have been saving it for the perfect moment. Well, the adaptation is here, so there could not have been a better time to read it. My instincts were 100% right because Pachinko is now an all-time favourite. It reminded me why I love multi-generational family saga and I appreciated that it was set in a time and place I knew very little about. I also really liked Sunja as the main character and she is at the heart of the story. Even though there are many characters we follow throughout the course of the book, they all have a connection to Sunja. I was so invested in her! I haven’t watched the adaptation yet (I am not subscribed to Apple TV), but I have heard it’s different from the book but is also incredible.

North Carolina, 1863. As the American Civil War rages on, the Freedpeople’s Colony of Roanoke Island is blossoming, a haven for the recently emancipated. Black people have begun building a community of their own, a refuge from the shadow of the “old life.” It is where the March family has finally been able to safely put down roots with four young daughters:

Meg, a teacher who longs to find love and start a family of her own.

Jo, a writer whose words are too powerful to be contained.

Beth, a talented seamstress searching for a higher purpose.

Amy, a dancer eager to explore life outside her family’s home.

As the four March sisters come into their own as independent young women, they will face first love, health struggles, heartbreak, and new horizons. But they will face it all together.

So Many Beginnings is part of a series of classics remixes and is a retelling of Little Women. I thoroughly enjoyed what Bethany C. Morrow did with these beloved characters and it made me look at them in a different way. The majority of the story takes place at the Freedpeople’s Colony of Roanoke Island during the American Civil War. There were great nods to the original story but Morrow made this all her own and it really worked. I think the sections of Jo’s writing alone make this book worth reading and it should be taught in schools. It is interesting to compare So Many Beginnings to the original story knowing that they are set during the same time period but from very different perspectives. I also appreciated some of the changes that Morrow made to the story- they were refreshing!

I finally read volumes 3 and 4 in the Descender graphic novel series. These are my favourite graphic novels! There is something about SciFi graphic novels that just appeal to me. I think the third volume is my favourite so far, as we get a lot of interesting background information for all of the characters. I grew even more attached to them. There were also some interesting twists! The fourth volume was also strong and built on some of the reveals from the third one. There are only two more volumes and I am not ready for it to be over!

Her visit to Peru would become a turning point in her life. Silvia started climbing. Something about the brute force required for the ascent—the restricted oxygen at altitude, the vast expanse of emptiness around her, the risk and spirit and sheer size of the mountains, the nearness of death—woke her up. And then, she took her biggest pain to the biggest mountain: Everest. “The Mother of the World,” as it’s known in Nepal, allows few to reach her summit, but Silvia didn’t go alone. She gathered a group of young female survivors and led them to base camp alongside her, their strength and community propelling her forward. When Silvia’s mother called her home to Peru, she knew something finally had to give. A Latinx hero in the elite macho tech world of Silicon Valley, privately, she was hanging by a thread. She was deep in the throes of alcoholism, hiding her sexuality from her family, and repressing the abuse she’d suffered as a child.

In the Shadow of the Mountain was a difficult listen in many ways. Silvia Vasquez-Lavado has been through a lot in her life and she shares her story with a great deal of candour and bravery. Do not go into this book thinking you are getting a memoir about submitting Mount Everest. That is such a small part of her story. The author was sexually abused as a child and the trauma from that experience has followed her throughout her life. She goes into detail about her abuse, so know that going in. We also get some insight into the stories of the other survivors who joined her on Mount Everest. Vasquez-Lavado also had other challenges, including alcoholism and difficult relationships with her family. It was a painful read but I am glad I read it. One of the best memoirs I have read. Also, Selena Gomez is signed on for the movie adaptation!

Barbara Gold, a retired CIA agent, is bored out of her skull in Cheerville, a small town in New England—until a man is poisoned during a book club meeting for seniors. Everyone thinks Lucien had a heart attack, but from his symptoms, Barbara knows someone has slipped poison into his cake or drink. Even though she is no longer under cover, Barbara feels as if she’s only playing the part of a sweet grandmother, but this may just be her most useful cover yet. 

The clock ticks as she investigates who in the Cheerville Active Readers’ Society would want Lucien dead. It’s only a matter of time before his death is declared murder and the police start hounding everyone.

Suddenly Barbara’s CIA training is useful again, and Cheerville is starting to seem not so dull after all…

I read Granny’s Got a Gun for a cozy mysteries book club and it was a good time! It was a quick read and was perfect after reading some heavier books earlier in the month. I will definitely continue on with the series when I need something lighter because I really loved Barbara and the fact that she is a retired CIA agent!

Worn out after decades of packing steel and raising hell, Viv the orc barbarian cashes out of the warrior’s life with one final score. A forgotten legend, a fabled artifact, and an unreasonable amount of hope lead her to the streets of Thune, where she plans to open the first coffee shop the city has ever seen.

However, her dreams of a fresh start pulling shots instead of swinging swords are hardly a sure bet. Old frenemies and Thune’s shady underbelly may just upset her plans. To finally build something that will last, Viv will need some new partners and a different kind of resolve.

A hot cup of fantasy slice-of-life with a dollop of romantic froth.

The vibes of Legends & Lattes perfectly match the cover! This was adorable and fun and everything I didn’t know that I needed! It follows a retired orc barbarian who opens a coffee shop in a town where no one knows what coffee is. What more do you need? I will also point out that, though the stakes were low, they were enough to propel the story forward. I also recommend the audiobook as Travis Baldree is not only the author of this book, he is a well-known narrator and is brilliant at it!

Attentive readers of Lady Trent’s earlier memoir, A Natural History of Dragons, are already familiar with how a bookish and determined young woman named Isabella first set out on the historic course that would one day lead her to becoming the world’s premier dragon naturalist. Now, in this remarkably candid second volume, Lady Trent looks back at the next stage of her illustrious (and occasionally scandalous) career.

Three years after her fateful journeys through the forbidding mountains of Vystrana, Mrs. Camherst defies family and convention to embark on an expedition to the war-torn continent of Eriga, home of such exotic draconian species as the grass-dwelling snakes of the savannah, arboreal tree snakes, and, most elusive of all, the legendary swamp-wyrms of the tropics.

The expedition is not an easy one. Accompanied by both an old associate and a runaway heiress, Isabella must brave oppressive heat, merciless fevers, palace intrigues, gossip, and other hazards in order to satisfy her boundless fascination with all things draconian, even if it means venturing deep into the forbidden jungle known as the Green Hell . . . where her courage, resourcefulness, and scientific curiosity will be tested as never before.

The Tropic of Serpents is book two in the Memoirs of Lady Trent series. I am co-hosting a read-a-long of the entire series and we will be discussing this book on Wednesday, April 6th at 9 pm EST over on the BookTube channel Kristen is Fully Book’d. Join us if you want to hear more of my thoughts, but overall I enjoyed this book and I love the narrative structure so much. This installment was a lot more political than the first, but I appreciated that about it.

Andre Monroe is ready to move on from heartbreak, and the first step is bringing home his rescue pup. He’d bonded instantly with the playful Zeus and was already planning their first adventures. But one thing he definitely hadn’t daydreamed about was Zeus accidentally being promised to someone else – or that he might go home empty-handed and brokenhearted all over again.

Janelle Johnson is not giving up her claim to Zeus. He already has a hold on her heart (and his own Instagram handle). After the year she’d had, she needed this dog. But when she sees the disappointment of the big, burly handsome man who’s clearly just as in love with the dog as she is, she proposes a deal to Andre – for one month they’ll co-parent the dog. How hard could it be?

Both of them agree to the unusual arrangement. Sharing a dog with a complete stranger isn’t quite the walk in the (dog) park they imagined, but as they work together to give Zeus a loving future, their four-legged friend might not be the only one who’s found a happily ever after.

If you are an Audible Plus member, you have to listen to A Walk in the Park! This is a novella and I thought it was the perfect length for the story between Andre and Janelle. The setup for this one is adorable. They are both promised the same dog at the shelter and ultimately decide to co-parent him, despite the fact that they are strangers. They are both attracted to each other and a romance quickly develops. I think because this book was so short, we don’t see a lot of the romance tropes that can be frustrating for a lot of readers. There is no miscommunication or third-act breakup. They are very honest about their feelings and their concerns It was so refreshing to read!

This is what they deserve. They wanted me to be a monster. I will be the worst monster they ever created.

Fifteen-year-old Sloane can incinerate an enemy at will—she is a Scion, a descendant of the ancient Orisha gods.

Under the Lucis’ brutal rule, her identity means her death if her powers are discovered. But when she is forcibly conscripted into the Lucis army on her fifteenth birthday, Sloane sees a new opportunity: to overcome the bloody challenges of Lucis training, and destroy them from within.

Sloane rises through the ranks and gains strength but, in doing so, risks something greater: losing herself entirely, and becoming the very monster that she ahbors.

Blood Scion is one of the most brutal and intense books I have read in a long time. Even though I have read a few books since I finished, I cannot get this book out of my mind. Deborah Falaye does not give you a second to breathe. There are a lot of triggers here, so I recommend looking those up before going into this one. I have read/watched a few interviews with the author, and she did a lot of research into child soldiers while writing this book, so that gives you an idea of the kind of content to expect. I appreciate how complex Sloane is as a character. It is impossible to imagine yourself in her shoes or to know the decisions you would make if you were. The ending was a lot, and I now check Goodreads every day looking for updates on the sequel.

Thirteen years ago, Delphine abandoned her prestigious soloist spot at the Paris Opera Ballet for a new life in St. Petersburg––taking with her a secret that could upend the lives of her best friends, fellow dancers Lindsay and Margaux. Now 36 years old, Delphine has returned to her former home and to the legendary Palais Garnier Opera House, to choreograph the ballet that will kickstart the next phase of her career––and, she hopes, finally make things right with her former friends. But Delphine quickly discovers that things have changed while she’s been away…and some secrets can’t stay buried forever.
Moving between the trio’s adolescent years and the present day, Rachel Kapelke-Dale’s The Ballerinas explores the complexities of female friendship, the dark drive towards physical perfection in the name of artistic expression, the double-edged sword of ambition and passion, and the sublimated rage that so many women hold inside––all culminating in a twist you won’t see coming, with magnetic characters you won’t soon forget.

The marketing behind The Ballerinas does this book a disservice. I would not call it a mystery or a thriller and certainly would not compare it to Black Swan. I think it is more for fans of Center Stage. It is set in two timelines and you know something happened when these characters were younger, but what happens becomes quite obvious. If you decide to pick this up, don’t focus on that too much as I think it distracts from what the book is really about. At its heart, it is about Delphine grappling with people thinking they have ownership over women’s bodies and her fighting against it. This is especially true in the ballet world. It is definitely more of a character study and a book about female friendships, and I think that if you go into it with the right expectations then it is worth reading!

World War II is drawing to a close in East Prussia and thousands of refugees are on a desperate trek toward freedom, many with something to hide. Among them are Joana, Emilia, and Florian, whose paths converge en route to the ship that promises salvation, the Wilhelm Gustloff. Forced by circumstance to unite, the three find their strength, courage, and trust in each other tested with each step closer to safety.

Just when it seems freedom is within their grasp, tragedy strikes. Not country, nor culture, nor status matter as all ten thousand people—adults and children alike—aboard must fight for the same thing: survival.

I did it! I finally read Salt to the Sea and I am so glad that I did. I was not expecting it to be such a quick read, but the chapters are so short that you find yourself constantly turning the pages. It was as emotional as everyone said it would be and I was reading through tears by the end. I will say, I could have done without one of the perspectives, though I understood why Ruta Sepetys would choose to include it. I cannot wait to read more from this author, so don’t be surprised if The Fountain of Silence is part of my April wrap up!

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29 thoughts on “March 2022 Wrap Up

  1. You had such a great reading month!!

    I’ve added Pachinko to my TBR since I’ve seen you mention it a few times, since I think its something I’d also like!

  2. Glad you had a great reading month! I just finished Blood Scion last night and it is so brutal but like you, by the end I was like…when is the sequel coming out?!!! I am reading Ruta Sepetys newest release right now. Hope you have a good April!

  3. Salt to the Sea is a huge favorite and Blood Scion is on my TBR. I will just have to be in the right frame of mind!

  4. Awesome reading month!!! Legend & Lattes! 🥰 I have some of these on my TBR, like Pachinko! I think we’ve talked about that one. Salt to the Sea is one I haven’t forgotten & glad you liked it! I hope April is just as great!

  5. Thanks for your thoughts on So Many Beginnings. I’ve been trying to decide whether I want to try this one or not, and your review makes me think I should give it a go! Pachinko is on my unread shelf too and I am now considering bumping it up. I LOVED Salt to the Sea and all books by Ruta Sepetys.

  6. I’m afraid I didn’t like Dead Silence, it didn’t feel like SF/horror to me, more like a psychological thriller. I’d love more SF/horror recommendations myself though – possibly my favourite genre-cross! Lauren James’s The Loneliest Girl In The Universe might be one to try?

  7. You sure had a great month of reading. So many great books here. I hope April is just as good for you.

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