Recent Reads, March 2023

You’ll quickly see that this month, reading the Zodiac Academy books basically took over my life! It definitely wasn’t my most diverse month for reading. More on the Zodiac Academy books below, and I did manage to squeeze in a few other books this month, too! Here’s everything I read in March.

All the Lovers in the Night by Mieko Kawakami

This book is a little different from my usual picks – I read it as part of a “reading challenge” that I’m doing, where there are different prompts for each month. It’s kind of a coming-of-age story – Fuyuko is a copy editor in her 30s, and she has very little life outside of work. Her only real friend seems to be her boss, Hijiri, who is her opposite in basically every way – outgoing, social, travels all the time… she seems to have a really big, full life. Fuyuko decides that she wants to make some changes to her life, but as she begins to change her actions and behavior, things from her past surface, and she starts to swing hard in the opposite direction. It takes some time for Fuyuko to find who she really is, for herself. The book was beautiful, and I loved Fuyuko’s journey, but it was a little slow moving for me.

Maame by Jessica George

(Content warning: parental death, sexual assault) Wow, I really loved this story. Maddie is a 20-something, who lives in London with her dad, who has Parkinson’s. Maddie’s mom lives in Ghana most of the time, and Maddie acts as her dad’s unofficial caregiver much of the time she’s not working. But when her mom tells Maddie she’s coming home, Maddie decides to take advantage, move out, and start living her life. She gets roommates, starts a new job, and even starts going on dates. But when something happens with her dad, Maddie has to reconcile her old life with her new one. I was worried when I started to read this book that it might make me, as a disabled woman, feel like a burden for needing care, but the caregiving aspect was really handled with love and respect. It was such a poignant coming-of-age story – of finding who you are, not who other people say you are. I just loved it.

Romantic Comedy by Curtis Sittenfield

I got an ARC of this through NetGalley – it comes out on April 4, 2023. This was such a fun take on the “celebrity dates normal person” trope! Sally is a writer on The Night Owls, a fictional equivalent to SNL. After a failed attempt at a relationship with a fellow writer, she’s basically given up on dating, and just has a casual hookup situation going on. When Noah Brewster, pop superstar, comes on the show as both host and musical guest, he decides he wants to write a sketch, and works with Sally to develop it. Sparks seem to maybe be flying as the two work together, but at the after-after party, anything they might’ve had comes to a crashing halt. Then… the pandemic hits, and Sally and Noah start up an e-mail pen pal relationship, turned FaceTime relationship… and Sally has to decide where she wants this to go. I haven’t really read many books yet that include the pandemic, and this one did it in a tasteful way, I think – it captured the uncertainty of what we were all feeling (paralleled with the uncertainty of what Sally was feeling!). I really enjoyed this one.

Zodiac Academy by Caroline Peckham and Susanne Valenti (Book 1, Book 2, Book 3, Book 4, Book 5, Book 6, Book 7)

This series!! Okay. I don’t even know quite what to say. This is a fantasy series – twins Tory and Darcy find out that they were switched at birth with human twins, and that they’re actually Fae princesses sent to live in the human world to protect them when their parents were killed. They’ve been brought back to Solaria to begin their magical education (the equivalent of a master’s program, basically) and learn to use their power – but they’re thwarted at each and every turn by the four “heirs” of the current ruling families of the country. The first book is HEAVY on bullying, which I didn’t enjoy at all – it goes away as the series continues. The books are strangely compelling – while I was reading, I could not put them down – but I need to mention that I think the actual writing is pretty bad, and there is a character whose use of Spanish is particularly egregious. I decided I needed to take a palate cleanser before I read book 8! I can’t say that I recommend them… but I also absolutely need to know how things end.

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