In My Library Tote: March Book Reviews

How do you track your reading? I mentioned in this month’s Currently post that I have been considering changing up how I track the books I read as well as those I read to my kids (mostly Jona at this point). In the past, I’ve used Goodreads to track my reading, although I use it strictly to track what I want to read, what I finish, and the star rating. I don’t post any reviews to Goodreads.

I also have a “book bullet journal” where I record more details about the books I read, such as the number of pages, genre of book, how I read it (e.g. audiobook, Kindle version, etc.) and more. In that same journal I also keep track of books I want to read to Jona (and sometimes Violet) as well as the books we read together.

If that sounds like a lot, it is, but in the past I have genuinely enjoyed this type of manual tracking. However, lately I’ve noticed that it’s felt more like a chore, and I’ve been thinking about a digital--yet not social--approach to my tracking. I created a Google Sheet with multiple tabs for my reading and kids books, and am going to test the waters there.

I’d love to hear about how you track your reading!

{what I read in march}

{Pachinko by Min Jin Lee} I chose this book for my book club and I hope that my friend is enjoying it as much as I did (we haven’t yet discussed it--her library wait was longer than mine). This is a multi-generational story of a Korean family. It starts in Korea with a poor yet hard-working couple who own a boardinghouse, whose daughter gets pregnant out of wedlock. The father of the child is already married, but a minister staying at the house decides to marry her. Together they move to Japan. This story explores the dynamics of the family through the years; their secrets, the relationships they have, their struggles, the changes that occur with each generation. However, it also provides insight into something I had never learned about before: the relationship between Japanese and Korean people during the mid-twentieth century. A theme throughout this book is the way that Koreans were viewed as second-class citizens in Japan and were denied the same rights and privileges given to the Japanese. Sounds familiar. While it was the particulars of the family members' lives rather than the exploration of racial prejudice that kept me engrossed in this book, that layer added a lot of depth to an already well-developed story. This was an excellent book. My rating: 4.5/5 stars.

{Becoming by Michelle Obama} I waited for a fairly long time to listen to this on audio, but let me tell you, it was worth it! When I found out that she reads the audiobook herself I knew that was the way I wanted to read this memoir. Becoming is a fitting title, because she really does tell the story of how she became the woman she is. Of course she talks about her time as First Lady, but she also talks about her childhood, her career aspirations, and even shares some of the history of her relationship with Barack Obama. While politics does come up throughout the book, I wouldn’t classify this memoir as political at all. Instead, it is an honest look at her own life--as a child, student, lawyer, wife, mother, and First Lady--before, during, and after her time in the White House. Becoming is surprisingly long, but it was a pleasure to listen to, and it never felt like it was dragging. Instead I looked for excuses to keep Michelle Obama in my earbuds just a little longer. My rating: 4/5 stars.

{Tomorrow Will Be Different: Love, Loss, and the Fight for Trans Equality by Sarah McBride} I just love a memoir on audio, and bonus points when the author reads it herself. I enjoy gaining new perspectives through what I read, and Sarah McBride’s story of her life as a transgender woman was so inspiring. It’s equal parts heartbreaking and hopeful, and I appreciated the balance of insights into her personal life as well as the ways she advocates for the LGBTQ community. My rating: 4/5 stars.

{The Broken Girls by Simone St. James} Creepy, supposedly haunted broken-down boarding school for girls combined with a modern murder mystery… if that doesn’t sound like something you’ll stay up way too late reading, what does? Books that go back and forth in time are hit or miss for me; too often there’s one period that I want to gloss over. Luckily this one kept me turning the pages during both the story set in 2014 and the part in 1950--both time periods involve a mystery, lots of secrets, and even a possible ghost. I’m not usually much of a ghost story person, mostly because I’m a huge weenie but also it’s just not my thing, but I liked the eeriness that component added to this story. My rating: 3.5/5 stars.

{A Rule Against Murder (Chief inspector Gamache #4) by Louise Penny} Poor Gamache can’t catch a break; even on vacation with his wife he ends up getting pulled into a murder investigation. I’m getting pretty wrapped up in this series and I can see why so many people are devoted to it. I actually found the third book more riveting than this one, although I did really enjoy book four. After doing some thinking I realized that it’s because this book isn’t set in Three Pines. It has many of my favorite characters from that quaint village, but the setting itself is different. To me, Three Pines feels like a character itself, and I felt its absence in this story. My rating 3.5/5 stars.

{My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite} The title pretty much gives away the premise for this book, but while it may imply a thriller, I wouldn’t put it into that category at all. I’m not sure where I’d put it, as it falls into many genres, yet at the same time none at all. It’s not like anything I’ve read before, with an element of crime, family drama, and even comedy, but coming together in a way that is compelling and fast-paced. I really liked the way Braithwaite explored the dynamic between the sisters, made all the more interesting due to the element of murder. This was a quick, yet memorable read. My rating: 3.5/5 stars. 

{The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory} I don’t read much romance, but this is one I kept hearing about on various podcasts and blogs. I’m glad I picked it up, it was so much fun to read and the perfect thing to pick up after some darker, heavier books. When I read the description--a man and woman meet in an elevator, he needs a date to a wedding, sparks fly--it sounded a bit cheesy, but it didn’t feel that way at all. Instead it was sweet, steamy, and an overall feel-good romance. My rating: 3/5 stars.  

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  1. The Broken Girls sound awesome. Spooky boarding school mystery? Yes please!


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