March 2023 in Books

I’m really just here to bitch. So if you want reviews, scroll on down. If you want to read my bitchfest, keep on going:

  1. Why are so many books a series now? All 3 of the physical books I finished (and 1 that I stared) are part of a series. 2 out of the 4, I had no idea was part of a series. Can people not write a stand alone story anymore? I don’t have time for this.
  2. March 2023 marked our “RTO plan” – Return to Office. I live almost 50 miles away from my office now. This means that 3 days a week, I’m stuck in my car for at least 2.5 (if not 3+) hours. That, however, is a whole different conversation. I used to be really into podcasts, pre-COVID, but have fallen off that train since then. Nothing was catching my eye. Due to this extreme amount of driving I’m doing, I’m listening to a lot of Audiobooks. We’ve already covered my opinion on if Audiobooks can be counted toward a reading goal (they can). Besides, my actual reading has taken a nosedive. I think this is a mixture of being pooped/burnt out all the time and also because I have just been choosing some duds lately. I cleaned off my bookshelf and got rid of a ton of books that don’t give me joy. Everyone gives me books to read after they finish so it’s not always me making choices and I’m not losing money. I donate them. Please don’t come for me.
  3. How do I get my book grove back on? Sometimes I think about reading and I’d rather diiiiiie, okay?
  4. Let me know in the comments what audiobooks I should stream! This was not a bitch 🙂 Thanks for sticking with me.

This year has been a whirlwind. Scotland was amazing (I swear I’ll post soon) but I feel like any and all of my downtime has been re-watching Veronica Mars (for the 100th time), cleaning, and cuddling with my giant potato. We’ve gotten so much more rain than I ever remember in my life. I used to think I loved the rain. I am a Twilight Stan after all. But man, am I over it. I’m ready for sunshine and cute outfits. I’ve officially run through all my cute cold weather get ups.

Legends & Lattes (Legends & Lattes #1) by Travis Baldree

My Rating: 3/5 stars
I so incredibly desperately wanted to love this book more than life itself. The cover really drew me in and it just seemed fun. And then it was… fine. I probably hyped it up too much in my mind and had too high of expectations. I didn’t enjoy it enough to want to read the second one. When it comes to non-human like creatures in Fantasy novels, I struggle to remember that they don’t look human. Which is probably why I don’t tend to read this style of fantasy… but if I don’t read it, I won’t get used to it. It’s a torturous circle, I know. I kept expecting ~something~ to happen, but nothing ever did. It was very much a “picture into someone’s life”, which I get is the whole point of a book, but I felt like there wasn’t really any plot beyond “This ‘person’ is opening a coffee shop to start a new life in a place no one knows them (or even what coffee is) but their past doesn’t stay hidden”. It was very predictable and cliched. It oozed of “male writing a female character” with an underdeveloped and pointless lesbian relationship.

The Man Who Died Twice (Thursday Murder Club #2) by Richard Osman

My Rating: 5/5 stars
I LOVE this series so much. Richard Osman really knows how to write characters. After the first book, I already felt like I knew these characters so well. Starting the 2nd book, I found myself saying, “Oh that’s such an Elizabeth thing to say”. I will protect these four seniors with my LIFE and they don’t even exist. That’s how great the characters are written. When Ibrahim gets mugged, I was livid. I wanted to punch those little punks in the throat. How dare you hurt my non-Grandpa who is my Grandpa? If I am not part of a senior citizens home where we solve cold cases and murders, I don’t want to live there. In this book, Elizabeth has to deal with her ex-husband (the worst) who is laying low after committing a crime. Then there’s a dead body. Then like, 2 more. I can’t remember the body count but it’s these old folks who get the job done. Oh also, Joy gets Instagram in this book and her trying to figure it all out is the most adorable thing in the entire world.

Gild (The Plated Prisoner #1) by Raven Kennedy

My Rating: 1/5 stars
I tried to figure out how to accurately write a review for this and this is what I came up with: Bad. Rape scene. Lots of rape jokes. No strong women. Badly written. Not even a fully fleshed out book.

Washington Myths and Legends: The True Stories behind History’s Mysteries by Lynn E. Bragg

My Rating: 3/5 stars
I picked this book up while on our RV RoadTrip. When I visit other countries, I pick up a book of local legends/fairytales/myths. I had never thought about doing it during my US trips. This was a fun one. As with most short story books, there were a few that didn’t interest me that I probably skimmed more than read. But there were so many that were fascinating to me. As a huge Nirvana fan, I’m very ashamed to say that I never knew Frances Farmer was a real person. This book now has me wanting to read a biography of hers (note to self: FIND ONE). All the supernatural ones made my ghost loving self super excited. The non-supernatural ones were the ones I cared less for. All in all, it’s well written and a fun little book. If you live (or have lived) in Washington (or are just obsessed with the state), I totally recommend it.

My Story by Elizabeth Smart [audiobook]

My Rating: 2/5 stars
I remember when Elizabeth Smart was kidnapped. I’m the same age as her. It was downright terrifying. I was old enough to understand what was going on. When she was found alive, I remember understanding what she had gone through. Before this case, I knew about kidnappings, of course. My parents made sure I knew “stranger danger”. But this was the first time I really understood. I think that I avoided reading up on the case as I got older because it felt too close. I remember it happening in real time and her and I were the same age. It scared me too much. After listening to her story, it scares me even more to know that there are still people out there like the 2 sub-humans that kidnapped her.

Now, specifically about this book. This book is so hard to rate and review. Because I want to say things that really aren’t very nice. There’s some top reviews on GoodReads that encompass what I want to say but am much too chicken shit to. We know the story. Hearing her more day to day captivity and what she was thinking was interesting (but someone else should narrate this, it’s not her forte). Her tone throughout the book made me feel like a Kindergarten teacher was reading a book – way too excited? When she was open about not ever getting any help (besides from her church), that’s where I really drew the line and made my rating. The entire book is filled with religious undertone. I get it. She was (and still, miraculously is) part of the LDS church and her kidnapper insisted he was a prophet of God. There was a lot of religious stuff going on. She continually talked about her faith being what got her through those months or would mention feeling God’s love all around her. It unnerved me. I cannot help but hear church talk when she consistently calls herself “lucky”. While I was never a member of the LDS church, I was raised Catholic and I know exactly where that thought process came from and it makes me roll my eyes so much they threaten to roll out of my head. When she talks about writing this book, years later, it is very clear that she took this experience, threw it in a box, taped it up, and threw it into a corner of her brain she never goes into… Until the day that she does and it’s not going to be a good day.

Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule [audiobook]

My Rating: 2/5 stars
Being into true crime, Ann Rule was someone I’ve heard about a lot. I haven’t read a lot of true crime books – just listened to podcasts (CRIME JUNKIES!) and spent my high school years fishing around (doesn’t exist anymore). I never read any real true crime books because any time I tried, I got bored. So I figured listening might be good. Ann Rule shouldn’t narrate anything. Her voice is not pleasant and she has no emotion. The beginning is this sloppy love letter to Ted Bundy. I get that she wants to paint the “I can’t believe my friend did these things” picture that we really do want to instill about serial killers – they can be regular old Joes (speaking of, have you seen You? We’re not caught up but that first season? Fantastic). There’s not much more information about Bundy that I didn’t already know and the fondness that Rule talked about him with made me real uncomfy. So I’ll leave you with a line from a song I’m obsessed with called “Lotta True Crime” by Penelope Scott:

Well I hope this doesn’t seem too impolite
But Ted Bundy was just never that fucking bright
He was just sorta charismatic and White alright
And he was so fucking sure he had the right
But he’s ugly and I’m glad he’s dead
Cuz there was no fucking candle in his pumpkin head
You’re not special for winning a game
With someone who you know was never playing

Empty: A Memoir by Susan Burton [audiobook]

My Rating: 4/5 stars
TW: Eating Disorders
Whew. Listening to this made me had panicked flashbacks to high school. Something that the internet has taught me is that no one has had a unique experience in their life. When Burton was taking about Chord – her high school crush – I pictured my “Chord”. That guy you’re totally head over heels for, who knows you’re head over heels for him. He flirts with you. Leads you on. Makes you think there’s something then drops the “Oh, we’re just friends” bomb and you’re left over analyzing every single little bit of your relationship, trying to figure out where it went wrong (which, by the way, I cover in some extent in this post here). There was a lot of Burton’s life that I related to. I picked this up originally because it was a female memoir about an eating disorder. I’ve read quite a few of these and are always mind blown by the narrative – it’s the same one that has been in my head for years. The disordered eating. The body dysmorphia. Some reviewers said that this book felt “repetitive”. As someone who has dealt with this – let me tell you… It is repetitive. You have this voice inside of you that spurs on the eating disorder as it morphs into the voice that continues to make sure you keep up the eating disorder that morphs into the voice that punishes you for slipping. This voice continues on and on. Even when you’re healing, it sneaks back in when you least expect it to and your new voice, bristles at the harsh words. It’s an ebb and flow. It’s something that stays with you forever. Burton battles anorexia and binge eating and has for most of her life. Her gravely voice is filled with emotion that made me had to stop at times because I would remember being in her shoes and thinking the exact things she thought. For me, it was heavy.

I admire Burton and everyone who speaks about their eating disorders. It’s not spoken about a lot, in a serious manner. As I’ve opened up more about my disordered eating, my obsession with it, and my body dysmorphia, I’ve been amazed at how many people (mostly women) I’ve known most of my life have been plagued with these same thoughts. My hope is that the more of us that speak up, the better the next generation will be with these issues.

Have you read any of these books? Have I convinced you (or not) to read any of these? What was your favorite book to read in February?

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