April 10, 2024

What I Read in March 2024

I read ten books in March, but six of them were novellas, so that’s more like five books – a little slower than usual, but the short novellas help cover that up! At 25 books cumulatively, that puts me exactly on track to hit my goal of 100 books by December 31. Of my ten books this month, I gave two novels and two novellas five stars – check them out for sure!

Tom Lake and Family Family took me back to my theater kid days, and the two novellas were well-developed, quick, fun reads!

5 stars:

Family Family, by Laurie Frankel: This book was PHENOMENAL! India Allwood grew up desperately wanting to be an actor – and now, she’s a Hollywood superstar. However, her latest movie is a departure from her action-film norm – it’s about adoption, and now, the paparazzi have discovered that she has personal experience in this area that she’s never disclosed. The plot is told through alternating flashbacks to India’s young adulthood and the choices she made, as well as her attempts to navigate the present-day media firestorm with her family, and there are a lot of twists and turns along the way as you learn about exactly how complicated and non-traditional her family is. This was one of the best books I’ve ever read; Laurie Frankel has an amazingly broad talent in being able to write gorgeous prose, witty quips, as well as thought-provoking truths, and I loved every bit of these characters and this story. India was quirky, but lovable, and she inspired me to be a little more accepting of who I am rather than conforming to what others expect. I love how adoption is reframed from being a tragedy to a positive choice, and while the pro-life side in the book takes that as a point in their favor, the narrative emphasizes that it’s actually just about the individual choices each person makes – and I didn’t find it to be overly political. Definitely don’t miss this incredible novel!

The Exception to the Rule (The Improbable Meet-Cute, #1), by Christina Lauren: On Valentine’s Day, a high school boy tries to send an email to his teacher about an assignment – but accidentally sends it to another student. The two only know each other by their first initials, but they start emailing every year on Valentine’s Day to confess things they wouldn’t tell someone they knew. This is a really cute novella that I loved, even as the ending was a bit predictable 🙂

Worst Wingman Ever (The Improbable Meet-Cute, #2), by Abby Jimenez: Holly is a hospice nurse, currently taking care of her own dying grandmother, and trying to recover from a breakup… when she inadvertently gets someone else’s Valentine’s Day card left on her windshield. The wingman then sends her a note to apologize, the two start writing back and forth. This is an adorable meet cute – I loved the characters and the whole thing felt extremely well-developed in spite of the short nature of the novella format!

Tom Lake, by Ann Patchett: Lara grew up as an aspiring actress, and did a summer stock production in Michigan with Peter Duke, now a major movie star. Soon after, she quit the theater; now, an adult with full-grown daughters, she runs a struggling cherry farm in Michigan. It’s spring 2020, and her three daughters have come home to wait out the pandemic and help her with the harvest, when they beg their mother to tell them the story of Peter Duke and the romance they shared. The narrative alternates between past and present, and is beautifully written. I especially loved reading about summer stock life, having been part of that world myself! I absolutely loved this, though might suggest reading “Our Town” by Thornton Wilder first, as it figures heavily into the plot.

4 stars:

Love, Me, by Jessica Saunders: Rachel is a successful attorney and happy mom of two kids… until her ancient love letters with her high school sweetheart are suddenly published. Why? Jack is a ridiculously famous actor, and now her perennially jealous husband is flipping out. The narrative goes back and forth between past and present, as Rachel tries to understand what she really wants. This was a perfect read after “Tom Lake”, following a bit of a similar arc, but in a much lighter and less-literary way, and I loved reminiscing about my own high school theater kid days. My only complaint is that the ending felt a bit rushed, and left things a bit more open-ended than I would have liked. Still a great read that I tore through!

Check & Mate, by Ali Hazelwood: Mallory used to be amazing at chess, until she quit and is now focused on supporting her mom and two spoiled sisters after the loss of her dad. But she agrees to play in one last charity tournament, and unwittingly defeats the current world champion – who happens to be a hot guy about her age. Although she wants to stay away from chess, her victory opens up a lot of opportunities to make major cash by playing. This was a cute, fun read, and I loved learning about the inside world of chess. However, Mallory was a bit dense, and I HATED her bratty sisters and how she wouldn’t say no to them.

3 stars:

Royal Valentine (The Improbable Meet-Cute, #6), by Sariah Wilson: Ilaria is tired of being a royal princess and having all eyes on her, so she begs her assistant to trade places with her so she can enjoy one weekend to herself… until she meets a hot Scottish photographer and wonders if she can show him the real her? This was really predictable, but sweet, and felt like a Hallmark movie.

With Any Luck (The Improbable Meet-Cute, #5), by Ashley Poston: Audrey is cursed as “the woman you kiss before you meet the love of your life” (and yes, she believes this is an actual family curse). So when she drunkenly kisses her male best friend the night before his wedding, and he disappears before the wedding, she freaks out – and has to embark on a search of the city with the hot male maid-of-honor. Unfortunately, the maid-of-honor is someone she hooked up with in the past too, so the situation is fraught with tension. This novella was just okay – not my favorite of the series, but not terrible.

2 stars:

Rosie and the Dreamboat (The Improbable Meet-Cute, #3), by Sally Thorne: Rosie is a hot mess, especially compared to her successful older sister, and she proves that when they go on a spa day and she gets stuck in the sensory deprivation tank. A firefighter comes to rescue her, and they talk for hours even though they can’t see each other until he finally gets her out. This was REALLY weird and I didn’t find any of the characters very likable; my least favorite of this novella collection.

Drop, Cover, and Hold On (The Improbable Meet-Cute, #4), by Jasmine Guillory: Although I love Jasmine Guillory, I didn’t love this. Daisy gets stuck in her favorite bakery during an earthquake – but unfortunately, she hates the hot male bakery owner for no real reason. Too bad, because he’s apparently been pining for her and doesn’t know how to show it. This was predictable and also frustrating, due to Daisy’s childishness and inability to simply communicate rather than awesome.

Any book recommendations for me? Follow me here on Goodreads to keep up with what I’m reading in real time.


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