March 2024 Wrap-Up

March 2024 Wrap-Up

Welcome back! I know we're a little into April by now, but I've had a lot going on personally and still want to post a March wrap-up. So here I am!

I read six books in March: three physical books and three audiobooks. Let's go!

Supercommunicators: How to Unlock the Secret Language of Connection - Charles Duhigg

⬤⬤⬤⬤◔ | audiobook | synopsis here

My Review: Last year, I read a book called NEVER SPLIT THE DIFFERENCE, written by FBI hostage negotiator Chris Voss, in which he essentially tells you how to manipulate people and be an asshole. Not what I was hoping for. So when I heard this book was coming out from the author of THE POWER OF HABIT, it seemed much more in line with what I wanted out of a book about communication. And I was so right!

Duhigg gets into the science behind how we connect with people and how we can do it better. He narrates the audiobook, which I think is a big help in picking up nuances in speech and phrasing the way the author intended, especially for a book on communication. He breaks down conversations into different types and their primary goals, and then gives the reader pointers for how to accomplish these goals in a better, more intentional way. Really helped me to slow down, listen, and put more meaning behind the words I choose.

In a world so polarized and focused on what WE want to do, say, and think, I think everyone should read or listen to this book as a way to learn to communicate better with both those you love and those you disagree with.

The Devil and Mrs. Davenport - Paulette Kennedy

⬤⬤⬤⬤◔ | e-ARC | synopsis here

My Review: Thanks to Lake Union Publishing and NetGalley for providing me an e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and feedback are my own.

It's a rare thing for me to experience real fear while reading a book. Most of the time there's a sense of distance between myself and the events I'm reading (it's not like a book is going to jumpscare me the way a movie might). It turns out all I need to be absolutely terrified while reading is a well-written, horrific man in the 50s. The visceral feelings of claustrophobia and entrapment that plagued me while reading was something I've never gotten form a book before. While there are , of course, some horror supernatural elements to this story, the misogyny and abuse and feelings of helplessness experienced by our protagonist were so real and so possible it made me almost ill (complimentary!).

I liked our characters and the relationships between them (and I loved to hate/fear the bad ones). I thought the plot was interesting and the execution was well-done. I also liked the ending, even if I feel it didn't really match with the rest of the story.

TLDR; keep an eye on Paulette Kennedy, because this was a real winner.

content warnings: domestic abuse, emotional abuse, sexual assault, self harm, death, sexism, child abuse

Let Us Descend - Jesmyn Ward

⬤⬤⬤◔〇 | audiobook | synopsis here

My Review: I wanted to like this book so badly. I really enjoyed probably the first 40% of the book. Jesmyn Ward has a lovely voice and I really enjoyed her narration of her story. The plot was interesting, I loved our characters, and the prose is really just lyrical and wonderful. I felt the story and momentum start to drop at the halfway point, however, and it had a hard time keeping my attention for the last half of the book. I didn't feel particularly connected to Anise, and I didn't love the magical realism aspects.

This book absolutely has and will continue to find an audience that loves it, and I can certainly appreciate and respect it for what it is. But love it I did not.

content warnings: slavery, racism, violence, rape

The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks

⬤⬤◕〇〇 | audiobook | synopsis here

My Review: This book reminds me a lot of the THE DUMB HOUSE. An interesting but disturbing premise, adequate execution, but no discernable themes? Sometimes I think a book exists just to make you feel kind of gross, and this is one of those books.

I will say, the narrator really kills it here. He get into character and he has a great accent and he really makes the whole story come to life. There were some story elements that I found interesting, but for the most part I just kind of felt overstimulated for the sake of shock. I can understand why some people might like that, but it's not really for me. The more I think back on it, the more I dislike it.

I think it you like books like THE DUMB HOUSE, or EXQUITISTE CORPSE (haven't read but a gut feeling), then maybe pick this one up at it seems to be in a similar vein. Otherwise, steer clear.

content warnings: child death, animal cruelty, murder, animal death

A Short Walk Through a Wide World - Douglas Westerbeke

⬤⬤⬤⬤◔ | physical ARC | synopsis here

My Review: Thanks to Avid Reader Press and NetGalley for providing me a physical ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and feedback are my own.

When I first started this book, I thought it was just a version of THE INVISIBLE LIFE OF ADDIE LARUE that just didn't live up to its predecessor. However, as I look back on it, I'm enjoying it more for its own merits.

I really enjoyed the fantasy aspects of this book, and I'm okay with the fact that we didn't really get an explanation for any of it. I really enjoyed the role that books and libraries played in the plot as well. I thought the premise was unique despite what it's being compared to. I thought the stories that were told and the characters we met were well-executed and interesting to read about. There were a couple of things that weren't my favorite that I'll list real quick:

  • Even if it was purposeful, the jumping timeline was very confusing to place and organize mentally
  • Pacing was a little slow at times and plot points felt repetitive
  • Because of the nature of the plot, we don't get a lot of relationship building or depth to the characters we met.
  • Most of the plot points covered during Aubrey's journey were based around male love interests, and I find that a little disappointing given that she's travelled the whole world and met countless people.

Overall, I did enjoy the book, and I'd recommend it to people who find the synopsis interesting. I don't know if I'd recommend it over THE INVISIBLE LIFE OF ADDIE LARUE, but it was still a fun read.

content warnings: blood, chronic illness, domestic abuse, body horror

The Familiar Dark - Amy Engel

⬤⬤◔〇〇 | paperback | purchase here

My Review: I am blessed in that I don't remember a lot about this book anymore so I'll certainly be less vitriolic than I was right after I read it. I thought the premise was interesting, obviously, and the pace was fast so nothing ever dragged, but I could not care less about anything that happened in this book. The characters were flat and their relationships were superficial, I didn't feel the our protagonist cared at all about the death of her daughter, and the ending was absurd.

There was one twist early on in the book that I thought was compelling, so I'll give it that much, but even then it didn't seem to have much consequence for the rest of the plot.

Don't waste your time here; at least the book was short so I didn't spend too long on it.

content warnings: murder, child death, sexual assault, addiction, drug use


What was your favorite book you read this month? Let me know!

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