MARCH READS

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Phew! What a month. I went on a city break to Dublin and Belfast, had a great time, enjoyed the first days of spring, and… got Covid. At least it gave me some time to read! As promised, here’s a rundown of my March reads and some quickie reviews.

Truth Be Told, Sue Divin – I’ll publish a review of this one a little closer to the release date, but this was a fantastic YA-but-not-really-YA read examining identity, sexuality, and the long shadow of the Troubles in Northern Ireland when two teenage girls–one Catholic from Derry, one Protestant from Armagh–meet and learn they have the same father. 4/5 stars.

Rise of the Warrior Cop, Radley Balko – another essential read on policing in America, especially focusing on the militarization and increase in raids, SWAT teams, and other military-esque tools to police relatively petty crime across America. Worth a read even if it could probably use a substantial update (it was published in 2013). 4/5 stars.

Get Rich or Lie Trying, Symeon Brown – An expansive and interesting look at how influencer marketing has seeped into every facet of our lives, examining instituions like Fashion Nova, dropshipping, and the dangerous drugs and plastic surgery associated with the “slim thick” body ideal. Brown is a Channel 4 reporter, and this is effectively a book version of those gawky 4OD documentaries my flatmates and I used to watch before nights out. iykyk. 4/5 stars.

Falling, TJ Newman – A big ol’ summer blockbuster in book form, in that it’s entertaining but doesn’t really stick with you. It’s a hostage story, in which a pilot’s family is kidnapped and told he must crash the plane in order to save his wife and children. There was a lot of potential here–the most compelling characters are the flight attendants, perhaps due to the fact that author TJ Newman used to be a stewardess herself–but it just doesn’t get developed. 3/5 stars.

The Younger Wife, Sally Hepworth – Well, you can read my full review here, but if you’re a fellow fan of books about Australians With Problems (TM), this will scratch an itch. 4/5 stars.

The Pharmacist, Rachelle Atalla – Another ARC I read this month, a deeply creepy speculative fiction work about an unnamed woman serving as a pharmacist in a nuclear bunker after a supposed apocalyptic event. It follows a fairly stock “double agent for the resistance” plot with a few notable scenes, but not much else to say. 3/5 stars.

Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – Yes, I know CNA is ~problematic~, but I think her foot-in-mouth defense of JK Rowling’s bullshit has mostly blown over now (she’s also actually apologised). I read this as part of a Booksta bingo challenge to read a book that was a bestseller the year you graduated high school. And since I graduated in 2013, this is a book that feels a bit of its time (read: pre-Trump), but still a contemporary classic of modern African identity. 4/5 stars.

White Smoke, Tiffany D. Jackson – Jackson has established herself as an exemplary YA author who can write YA that’s actually readable (sorry Booksta!), and this was an enjoyable ghost story. But still, it barely holds a candle to her R-Kelly-and-Aaliyah-inspired Grown. 3/5 stars.

Miracle Creek, Angie Kim – A family/legal drama about a Korean immigrant family facing trouble in their rural Virginia community after an arson incident at their psuedosciency medical clinic. As a Celeste Ng fan, I thought this would be up my alley… and it was, but the ending was a bit of a cop-out and a lot of the plot revolves around special-needs parenting in a way that a lot of people have flagged as problematic. Oh yes, the Munchausen-by-proxy discussion is there. 3/5 stars.

The Mercies, Kiran Millwood Hargrave – This is where I really started to feel I hit a reading slump this month, or maybe Covid was just turning my brain to mush (get vaccinated, my dudes). This historical fiction is set in Vardo, a remote Norwegian island, in the aftermath of a 17th century storm that killed nearly all the men on the island. A minister arrives to bring order to their sudden matriarchy, and his wife finds these independent women intriguing. I think in a different mood I would’ve loved this, but it just felt to drag in parts. 3/5 stars.

Vladimir, Julia May Jonas – This is the debut of 2022, mark my words. An unnamed English professor at an idyllic New England liberal arts school is dealing with the fallout of her husband, another professor in her department, being implicated in a #MeToo scandal. She then becomes fixated on her new young colleague and his glamourous wife in a Lolita-role-reversal that needs to be read to be believed. 5/5 stars.

The Secret Lives of Church Ladies, Deesha Philyaw – Will I ever learn that I hate short stories? Apparently, no. 2/5 stars.

The Pain Gap, Anushay Hossain – An eye-opening look at how medical racism and medical sexism is at work in America, especially when it comes to giving birth. An essential read regardless if you’re a parent or not. 5/5 stars.

The Seep, Chana Porter – A wild speculative fiction about an alien invasion that makes everything better–“the seep” invasion breaks down capitalism and removes all systemic barriers in society–but leaves Trina reeling when her wife decides to leave her. It’s an acquired taste, but I would’ve gladly read a book double this length. 4/5 stars.

STATS

Total pages read: 4,568 pages

Fiction/nonfiction breakdown: 77%/23%

Books by authors of colour: 42%

Percentage read as audiobooks: 57%

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