Features, Wrap Ups & Hauls

March 2017 Wrap-Up + Book Haul

MarchWU

Happy end of March bookworms!

After my ridiculous reading month in January when I read 11 books, I really thought I had peaked in 2017.  That was until I read 14 books in March.  #NailedIt

My blogging month was also not too shabby.  All around, March was good to me.

Let’s recap shall we?

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*Book titles link to Goodreads

What I read in March:

agatheringofshadows

5-Star Rating System

Summary of feelings: This book.  I thought A Darker Shade of Magic was great, but this book knocked my socks off.  If I am being completely honest, reading these books gave me similar feelings that I had as a child reading Harry Potter.  I know once I finish this series, it will always hold a special place in my heart.

» Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

bel-canto

5-Star Rating System

Summary of feelings: I know this is often everyone’s favorite Ann Patchett novel, but it was just ok for me.  I actually enjoyed State of Wonder more.  That being said there were elements that I really liked about this book: the focus on music, the blurring of lines between captives and captors, and the intense ending.  I would have liked the pacing to have been a little more steady throughout the book versus the snails pacing for 95% of the book, then the big rush to the finish for the last 5%.  That ending though!  Patchett foreshadowed throughout the novel, and I was anticipating a crazy finish, but not to that extent.

*Part of my SOKY Book Fest TBR

» Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

neverwhere

5-Star Rating System

Summary of feelings:  Neil Gaiman.  Why are you so damn brilliant?  I don’t think he could do any wrong in my eyes.  The man writes pure gold.  If you asked me which of his books has been my favorite, I really couldn’t tell you as I’ve loved them all.

» My Father, the Pornographer by Chris Offutt

myfathertheporn

5-Star Rating System

*3.5 Stars

Summary of feelings: My Father, the Pornographer is more about the author Chris Offutt, then it really is about his father, Andrew J. Offutt (the pornographer).  While many parts of the book were slow going and mundane, I found parts of this book absolutely fascinating.  It definitely was darker than I was anticipating.  If you are interested in psychology at all, you would find parts of this book very appealing.

*Part of my SOKY Book Fest TBR – Unfortunaly this author canceled and will not be attending 😦

» Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan

echo

5-Star Rating System

*4.5 Stars

Summary of feelings:  Echo was a beautiful middle grade book that blended fairytale, history, and music together.  I did not realize when I started this book that it was going to start off as a fairytale, but eventually turn into a WWII historical fiction.  I thought the way the author took multiple story lines and  wove them together was very clever.  I also liked how each story ends on a cliffhanger, but you don’t really find out how they all end until the end of the book.   I cannot stress enough that if you are able, audiobook is definitely the way to go with this one.  Not only is each section of this book narrated by a new narrator, but the music is also played out.  I would recommend this one to any music lovers, and especially any of you that are musicians yourselves.  I think the author really captured the essence of the love that musicians have for creating music.

» Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris

behind-closed-doors

5-Star Rating System

*3.5 Stars

Summary of feelings:  Now I don’t typically reach for thrillers, but I do enjoy throwing them into the mix every once in a while.  Behind Closed Doors was selected as my book club’s March book.   If I am being honest, I have yet to read a thriller that has knocked me off my feet.  I don’t know if I am just not reading the right books, or if my reading tastes just do not include thrillers… Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed this book, but would I want to read it again?  Probably not.  I will say this was a very quick read and at least kept me interested until the end.  I think this book could have been much better if the author would have told this in a dual perspective of both Grace and Jack.  I wanted to know more about Jack… his thoughts and motives.  I did really like how everything panned out in the end.

» Paper Wishes by Lois Sepahban

paperwishes

5-Star Rating System

Summary of feelings:  I read this book in one sitting.  This is a middle grade historical fiction, but I would probably say the target audience is on the younger age range of middle grade.  Maybe 7-10 year olds?  This book tackles a topic that we don’t hear about much in school here in the U.S: the relocation and incarceration of Japanese-Americans in the U.S. during WWII.   This would make for a great book to use in a classroom setting (maybe 2nd-3rd grade?) as this book has themes of family, loss, friendship, etc. along with the historical context.

*Part of my SOKY Book Fest TBR

» The Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine

TheShadowQueen

5-Star Rating System

Summary of feelings:  The Shadow Queen was a solid read, but it didn’t blow me away by any means.  The thing I liked the most about this book was how the author spun this retelling of Snow White.  I think she did a good job staying true to the story while giving us some new elements: dragons and more magic.  If you are a fan of YA fantasy and/or fairytale retellings, then I would recommend this book to you!  I think my biggest issue with this book was the characters.  They didn’t feel real to me and were lacking emotion.  I think if the author had slowed the plot down just a tad and focused a little more on character development, this would have helped me to form more of a connection to the characters.

*Part of my SOKY Book Fest TBR

» East by Edith Pattou

East

5-Star Rating System

Summary of feelings:  I loved this book and I can’t really put my finger on why exactly.  It may have just been the right book at the right time.  East is very fast paced read with short chapters and multiple perspectives.  Despite the fact that this book is just over 500 pages, I was immersed in the story from beginning to end.  This book feels very much like a fairy tale because it is based off the Norwegian fairytale “East of the Sun and West of the Moon.”  I am not familiar with this fairytale, so prior knowledge of it is not a requirement to enjoy East.   This book also gave off an epic journey vibe as well.  So, an epic journey fairytale?  Whatever this book is, I loved it.

*Part of my Ohioana Book Fest TBR

» Sachiko: A Nagasaki Bomb Survivor’s Story by Caren Stelson

Sackiko

5-Star Rating System

Summary of feelings:  Wow.  What a heartbreaking and horrifying story, yet also uplifting and hopeful.  The author weaves Sachiko’s story with historical context throughout the book, which made for an emotional and informative read.  We are given a personal account at what it was really like to survive the atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki on August 9, 1945.

Honestly Sachiko’s account reminded me of pictures and media coverage of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001.   It felt many of the same feelings I did as a 14-year-old kid watching the coverage of the terrorist attacks on TV: horror, fear, anger, and sorrow.

This book also questions the decision of the United States to use nuclear weapons before really knowing the effects the bombs would have both short and long term.  Truman rationalized his decision by saying that dropping the atomic bombs saved hundreds of thousands of American lives we would have lost if we would have sent troops to Japan to fight a war in the east.  HOWEVER there were most likely other motives in play here as well.  Was it worth the instant death of 120,000 Japanese people?  How about the countless number of Japanese people who died in the aftermath from injuries, radiation sickness, and years later – cancer?

Sachiko definitely gave me a lot to think about.

» A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park

ALongWalk

5-Star Rating System

Summary of feelings: Another thought-provoking novel.  A Long Walk to Water is about the war torn country of Sudan, a country in northern Africa.  The majority of this book is about one of the “lost boys” of Sudan, Salva.  I must admit, before reading this story, I knew practically nothing about the hostility in Sudan that went on for YEARS (conflicts are still going on today), nor the very real problem that it’s people face: access to clean water.   A Long Walk to Water is also about a girl named Nya, whose job it is to fetch water for her family.  She spends 8 hours EVERY day fetching water for her family.  The book is told in alternating perspectives and timelines, but the connection between these two stories isn’t made clear until the end.  This book really opened my eyes to how privileged I am to be able to walk to my kitchen and turn on a faucet.

» The Girls in the Garden by Lisa Jewell

TheGirlsintheGarden

5-Star Rating System

Summary of feelings: No one is more shocked then me that I actually really enjoyed this book.  If you have followed me for a while, you know that thriller novels are not my go-to books, but I kept throwing them into the mix.  Girls in the Garden is one of those books where you learn about “the incident” first, then go back in time leading up to the incident.  I thought the author did a great job of holding my attention the entire time.  I really liked how Jewell introduced all kinds of characters/scenarios to thrown the reader off the trail.  The conclusion wasn’t exactly a huge shocker, BUT it was definitely more involved and complicated then I was anticipating.  Typically I don’t like when the author leaves things un-resolved, but Jewell does leave a few things up in the air.  I think it worked here.

*Full review to come

» The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker

TheAnimators

5-Star Rating System

Summary of feelings:  I am going to venture to say that The Animators is going to be the biggest surprise of 2017 for me.  This book is so much more than I was anticipating.  I was anticipating a light hearted contemporary novel with friendship being a central theme.  While friendship is a major theme, The Animators is NOT a light hearted read.  It is very gritty and raw… definitely more of a darker novel.

I also thought this book was young adult, and it turns out that this book is very much an adult book.  I think it was because the cover gave off a YA vibe to me?  Anyways, The Animators has a lot of adult content that is not suitable for a young audience.

*Part of my SOKY Book Fest TBR

» Loving Vs. Virginia: A Documentary Novel of the Landmark Civil Rights Case by Patricia Hruby Powell (Illustrated by Shadra Strickland)

LovingVSVirginia

5-Star Rating System

Summary of feelings:   Loving Vs. Virginia is the Supreme Court case that legalized marriage between races.  In this book, we learn about Richard & Mildred Loving, the couple behind this infamous case.  Told in verse, Loving Vs. Virginia is very much the love story of Richard Loving, a white man, and Mildred, a biracial woman.   I was anticipating a little more historical content, but overall, this was a very well done YA book.  I must admit, I have never really read a book about interracial marriage before.  The challenges that the Lovings faced was heartbreaking to read about.

I listened to the audiobook version, but I am waiting for a copy from my library to see the illustrations.

*I am definitely interested in reading a book that goes a little deeper into the history of interracial marriage, as well as challenges that interracial couples face in today’s society.  If anyone has any recommendations, please let me know.

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Challenge Updates:

» Goodreads Challenge MarchGRChallenge.png

» Diversity Bingo 2017

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Since I am more focused on reading for my upcoming book festivals, I was only able to knock out 1 square for #DiversityBingo2017.  This isn’t to say I am not reading diverse books, just that the ones I read didn’t fit into any of the categories for this month.  I am now a total of 11 squares down.  This month I completed…

• Displaced MC → Paper Wishes by Lois Sepahban

*Actually a few of the other books I read this month would also fit this category: A Long Walk to Water, Sachiko, and Loving Vs. Virginia all have characters who are displaced.

Here are the squares I’ve completed thus far…

• MC w/ chronic pain → Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo #OwnVoices

• MC w/ an under-represented body → 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl by Mona Awad

• Diverse non-fiction → Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly

• POC on the cover → Stella by Starlight by Sharon M. Draper

• Non-western (real world) setting → Listen, Slowly by Thanhha Lai #OwnVoices

• Immigrant or Refugee MC → Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai #OwnVoices

• Black MC (Own Voices) → Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson #OwnVoices

• MC of Color in SFF → When the Sea Turned to Silver by Grace Lin #OwnVoices

• Own Voices → The Crystal Ribbon by Celeste Lim #OwnVoices

• Free Choice → Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin (Gender Fluid MC)

*Not sure if this challenge is like traditional BINGO where you only need to get a line to “win,” but I’m going for a cover-all 🙂

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On the Blog:

Book Reviews:

hagseed-review

 Book Review: Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood

AndIDarken

Book Review: And I Darken by Kiersten White

KidsCorner

Kids’ Corner: Diverse Children’s Picture Books in Review (March 2017)

Other Posts:

febwrapupFebruary 2017 Wrap-Up + Book Haul

marchtbr

March 2017 TBR

ACOLBookTour

Book Event: V.E. Schwab’s A Conjuring of Light Book Tour

Dream Loot Crate

Dream Loot Crate: Bookish Crate (Theme: A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab)

BloggingBabble

Blogging Babble: Blogger/Follower Expectations

Top Ten Tuesdays

TTT

Top Ten Tuesday: Spring 2017 TBR

TTT2

Top Ten Tuesday: Authors I’ve Met & A Few I’d Like to Meet

Top 5 Wednesdays

T5W

Top 5 Wednesday: Favorite Fantasy Books

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 March Book Haul:

*I picked up my copy when I attended V.E. Schwab’s book tour, which you can read about here → Book Event: V.E. Schwab’s A Conjuring of Light Book Tour

» The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui

*Won from a giveaway hosted by Crystal @Lost In A Good Book.  Huge thank you to her for hosting this giveaway!

MarchBookHaul5

» The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

*Via Blogging for Books

» The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

*I already have a copy of this book, but when I saw a gently used hardback copy at my library for $0.50, I wasn’t about to pass it up.

» The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier

*Another used copy I picked up at my library for $0.50.  I really enjoyed Girl With a Pearl Earring by this author, so why not.

MarchBookHaul6

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How was your March?

Which books did you read?

Did you buy any books? Which ones?

Comment below and let me know 🙂

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17 thoughts on “March 2017 Wrap-Up + Book Haul”

  1. Hi Amanda!
    What a lovely wrapup post!
    Thank you so much for sharing Paper Wishes. I had never heard of it before, but that’s a perspective I’ve always been interested in. I remember George Takei talking about his experiences in internment camps, so I want to learn more about it. I hope you have a lovely April, Amanda. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Looks like you had an incredibly productive month, Amanda! You’ve read and reviewed so many books – I’m particularly interested in Sachiko and A Long Walk to Water (is the latter a non-fiction as well?). It’s been a while since I read historical stuff and I kind of miss it. And Loving vs. Virginia! I feel like only the other day I saw a collection of pictures about the Loving couple on The Guardian. Is that also non-fiction or fictionalised history?

    Also OH MY GOD that hardcover for The Night Circus is so beautiful! I must get that for myself. And 50 cents! That’s such a bargain.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A Long Walk to water is fictionalized but it is based off a true story! I would highly recommend both books! They are both super short and quick reads.
      Loving vs. Virgina is also fictionalized but based off the true case. The book doesn’t go much into the case, as it is more about the couple themselves. It is a very “PG” or “tame” read because it is a YA book… I would actually place it for younger YA readers. Regardless, it was a wonderful book. The paper version with the illustrations just came in at my library, so I’ll keep you posted on my thoughts on the illustrated edition 👍🏻

      Like

      1. Ooh, thanks for clarifying! I’ll definitely check both those books out. Less “popular” books are harder to get now that I’m back in Indonesia, but hey! You gotta fight for what you want. 😛

        I look forward to your review on that illustrated edition. ❤

        Like

    1. Right? To be honest, there were a few fairly short books, BUT a few 500+ page books too lol I think I just used books to escape this past month since I had a lot going on personally. I don’t typically read that many in a month. I wish I could! Amy @NovelGossip reads like 250 books a year 😳

      Liked by 1 person

  3. 3.5 Stars to Behind Closed Doors? hm whelp thats good to know! but I see that once again Uncle Gaiman did not disappoint with Neverwhere! that’s up on my Audible next, its been a minute since I’ve listened to any of my audiobooks.I’d like to read along to Neverwhere though so i’ll be p/u a copy. I have The Girls In the Garden in ebook so YAY you enjoyed it cuz I was doubtful on what motivated me to buy this one HAHA! Funny thing, Bel Canto has always caught my eye whenever I walk by it in B&N & this has been the case for years lol. You have had quite an amazing reading month my friend, wishing you a even greater on in April 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So take my 3.5 rating of BCD with a grain of salt. I really did enjoy it, but think it had the potential to be so much more. Lots of people rave about it, so it’s probably just me lol

      Ahhhh Neverwhere!!! Loved it! I know you’ll love it too ❤

      The Girls in the Garden was an enjoyable read! I think because there were so many characters and side plots, I was constantly turning my head every which way to see “who did it”. I think the best part of the book was the fact that it is very believable… I could totally see myself reading about it on the news. Sometimes I think thrillers can be a little farfetched you know?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. BCD is probably going to be a summer or Fall read for me, low on the priority but still on my radar lol. Neverwhere is HIGH up there haha! But I’m going to buy the physical copy first to read along the audiobook. I love twisty suspenseful reads, The Girls in the Garden is now up on my list. I hadn’t seen anyone one review it. Yea I completely agree, every once in a while I like to suspend reality just a bit so that’s what I use Fantasy & thrillers for 😂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. OMG Amandaaaa, you did soooo great!!! Congrats on such diverse subjects on the literal sense: we have YA, non-fiction, adult, biography, poetry, Middel Grade, EVERYTHING! You rooock, girl!!! /o/ Also, now you conviced me back to give The Shadow Queen a shot and I CAN’T WAIT to read The Animators!! I have the ebook already, so it should happen soon? >..<
    Anyway, point is: YOU GO, GIIIRL!!!! /O/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahhhh thank you my friend!!! I find that reading all different types of genres is what really helps keep my reading pace strong. I’m always mixing it up, so no time to fall into a slump!

      I think The Shadow Queen was a really good retelling. I wanted more from the characters, but definitely a solid read.

      I LOVED The Animators! I know it will be a favorite of 2017 for me.

      Liked by 1 person

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