My March 2023 in Books

I’ve still got two more days left in the month, but I won’t finish another book and today is the best time to write, so here is my March in books.

I finished 6 books this month. It helped that I read most of one of them last month.

1. Wayward by Chuck Wendig

This is the sequel to Wanderers. It is now five years after the events of the first book where a strange malady sent a group of Americans sleepwalking across the country. The sleepwalkers are now awake in their new home. The world has been decimated by a pandemic. The AI that saved the flock and the shepherds may not be as altruistic as it seems.

This was a very long book. I liked the story and the characters and was invested enough to keep going even when it got bogged down in places. It started a little slow but picked up when some of the characters left the small town to make the trek across the country to the CDC to find a way to stop the AI from controlling the lives of their friends. I gave it four stars. It could have been a five if some of the unnecessary stuff was edited out to streamline the story a bit. It was a few pages from dropping to a three. I don’t remember the first book feeling too long.

2. Freewater by Amina Luqman-Dawson

Twelve-year-old Homer and his little sister Ada flee from Southerland Plantation one night. They must leave their mother behind when she is captured while trying to go back for their friend Anna. While fleeing their pursuers, they run into the swamp where they are rescued by a secret community called Freewater. Homer is determined to go back and save his mother and protect the community from a threat he discovers.

I picked this one up because it won both the Coretta Scott King and the Newbery Awards this year. I can see why. It is a very compelling story told from the perspective of multiple characters, both in Freewater and on the plantation. We see the world through kids who have never known a life outside of Freewater, the newly free Homer and Ada, Anna who is still in captivity, and the daughter of the plantation owner. It ends on a very exciting, very hopeful note. I did think it was a little too long, but most books are these days, Highly recommend it.

3. Unnatural History by Jonathan Kellerman

According to Goodreads, this is #38 in the Alex Delaware series. 

In this one, Milo asks Alex to help with the case of a murdered photographer. The photographer was the son of a reclusive billionaire and had just finished a series of photos of the homeless where he gave them a makeover and dressed them up as their fantasy selves. Did one of them return to rob him after he flashed too much cash? Was his murder related to his dad? Did another sibling take him out to get a bigger piece of the eventual inheritance? All of these are investigated and connected in an unexpected way. 

I have read all of the books featuring Milo and Alex and I still love them. I like the friendship and mutual respect in the partnership. I love that they are both in stable relationships. I love that they solve the crimes through hard and sometimes dull work and not flashy gunfights and cartoonish violence. It is a very well done, intelligent mystery.

4. Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

This book takes place in a land where the king has destroyed magic and everyone who was practicing it. Zeile’s mother was one of the Maji killed. After a chance encounter with Princess Amari, Zeile heads out on a quest to bring the magic back. Amari’s brother, Inan, is intent on stopping them.

This was a very good YA fantasy book with appeal to people of all ages. Great word-building and short chapters make it an easy, enjoyable read I thought it could have been a little shorter and I wasn’t a fan of the usual YA romance tropes in the story, but I would recommend it to anyone. Even the people in my book club who don’t read fantasy liked it.

5. Heartstopper Volume 1 by Alice Oseman

Charlie is an openly gay year 10 student. Nick is a cheerful, good-hearted year 11 rugby player. They meet when seated together in class and become good friends. Is it possile they could become more than friends?

I had heard of Heartstopper, the books, and the TV show, but had never read or watched it. I had been thinking I should read a graphic novel and then a friend mentioned these so I got volume one and two the next time I was at the library. I liked this one. The characters are well-developed. The relationship builds realistically. The art is good. I would recommend it and I might watch the TV show.

6. All My Rage by Sabaa Tahir

Salahudin and Noor have been best friends since they were kids. Salahudin lives with his parents at the motel they run. Noor lives with her uncle who owns a liquor store. When Salahudin’s mom’s health fails and his dad falls further into alcoholism he makes drastic choices to save the motel. Noor meanwhile is dealing with her angry uncle who punishes her for her religious beliefs and forbids her from applying for college. Can their friendship survive the repercussions of Salahudin’s choices?

This was the winner of the Printz Award this year and I can see why. It was a very good book, but a tough one with a lot of dark subject matter. Alcoholism, death of a parent, racism, abuse, drugs, etc. It took me a little bit to get into it, but once I did I was fully invested in their lives. It is told from three viewpoints – Noor, Salahudin, and Salahudin’s mom. The mom parts are stories from her marriage up until the events of the book and provide important insight into the family dynamics and how the past affects the present. I did think the ending was a little bit of the contrived, unlikely happy ending that I generally hate. I would still highly recommend it.


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