These are definitely strange times and for the first week or two of the pandemic I wasn’t really able to focus on reading.
Everything I Read in March 2020
For that super distracted/agitated period of time, listening to Jessica Simpson’s audiobook was really helpful! I joke that “Jess” and I are now on a first name basis. I am now back in a better groove with reading but only reading the lightest of books. The Authenticity Project was really cute (so good and warm and fuzzy) and I absolutely LOVED If I Never Met You! You MUST read that one, it’s def my favorite book from the month, it is so cute and well-written. Now is, in my opinion, the time to really lean into light romances and all of the British chick lit.
TELL ME WHAT YOU ARE READING! I’m always looking for great recommendations… I love reading your comments!
IF YOU’RE NEW HERE AND ARE LOOKING FOR A BOOK, DON’T FORGET THAT YOU CAN ALWAYS CHECK OUT MY BOOK CLUB PAGE.
Every month I update it with everything I read – it includes every.single.book I’ve read in the past few years. The best part is that you can filter + search by genre (memoir, light read, historical fiction, thriller, etc!) to find exactly what you’re looking for. I always add whatever it is that I’m currently reading in real-time to my Amazon Shop. If you’re feeling like you need even more book recs, check out last month’s list and everything I read in 2019!
The Two Lives of Lydia Bird, by Josie Silver.
This was really, really sad. I was warned that it was sad, but I still was just SO excited for it, because I loved Josie Silver’s other book, One Day in December SO MUCH. On Lydia Bird’s birthday, her fiance dies in a horrible car crash. Her whole world is completely flipped upside down. (This happens right a the beginning; before we’ve gotten to know said fiance, but STILL – you’re just emotionally wrecked from the first few pages!
She begins taking sleeping pills at night to sleep but when she takes a pill she’s mysteriously transported to an alternate life where Freddie (fiance) is still alive. As time goes on (the book goes on for about a year and a half or so after his death), she finds it harder and harder to exist between the two worlds, especially as she tries to be a good friend, sister, etc. I don’t want to say what happens, but it was worth the sadness. Not as good as One Day in December, but still a good read. (I won’t say fun read; it made me cry to hard for that!!!)
- Overall Score: B
The Twin, by Natasha Preston.
I will preface this by saying that this book is a YA thriller which isn’t always my favorite. I guess it depends. Something by E.L. Lockhart is always a fav but more recently, Good Girl’s Guide to Murder was a letdown. This book left me saying “what fresh hell did I just read!?” I always wished for a twin sister growing up and love books/movies where one twin ends up being the evil/bad one, which is why I pulled this out of my ARC pile. Oof. It wasn’t great. It wasn’t terrible and kept me entertained, but not great.
Ivy and Iris are twin sisters. When their parents divorced, they were split up. But then their mother passes away, so Iris moves in with Ivy and her dad. The sisters (devastated by the loss of their mother) struggle at first but then we see that something is not right between them. Is Iris trying to steal Ivy’s life? We watch her systematically become best friends with Ivy’s best friends, slowly trying to claim everything that is Ivy’s. Or is Ivy just paranoid and jealous? You’ll have to read the book to find out. It was fun but also kind of a mess of a book.
- Overall Score: C+
I’ll Give You The Sun, by Jandy Nelson.
This was our March book club pick for the podcast! It’s a magically written, sweet and heartwarming YA book: the story of two twins, Noah and Jude, via alternating timelines. Noah tells the story of their younger years when they are 13, and Jude tells the later years when they are 16. In between the alternating timelines, we just know that something tragic has happened that impacted both twins in profound ways. When they’re 13, they are so close that they claim to share a soul. Just three years later, they’re distant…not nearly as close, not even friends.
I will be honest, it took me a bit to get into the book because of the writing style – it’s very flowery and creatively written. Noah’s character, in particular has a different style of writing/expressing his thoughts. But once I got into it, I loved it! It’s a wonderful, breathtaking look at love, loss, what life as a twin looks like, and also a bit of ethics and right vs. wrong. Highly recommend reading this one, it’s a nice little escape from the world!
- Overall Score: A-
* For more conversation about this book, listen to the podcast episode HERE!
The Authenticity Project, by Clare Pooley.
I really enjoyed this book, but I was very much let down by the ending. I just want to preface my review with that, as Becca warned me and I didn’t listen. I’m still really glad I read it though, as I’ve been struggling with reading and this book felt like comfort food! The book revolves around a vivid cast of characters, all connected by a notebook called The Authenticity Project.
Julian (an 80ish year old artist) started it, writing about his loneliness and how nobody actually knows their neighbors. He left it in Monica’s cafe, and she wrote in it… leaving it in a bar where it was found by Hazard, a struggling addict. And so goes this pattern as a wonderfully endearing cast of characters emerging. They find each other through the notebook and develop some sweet relationships. I loved the themes here (no one’s life is perfect, we all feel lonely, we’re all connected!) and found myself falling in love with each of the characters. I loved the book but not the ending! Still, a worthwhile read for sure!
- Overall Score: B+
Open Book, by Jessica Simpson
Okay (as I mentioned in Monday’s post) this book is SUCH a departure from my usual type of read (I generally could not care less about celebrities/celeb culture) but I listened to this as an audiobook (with Jessica narrating) and enjoyed it IMMENSELY. What drew me in was when Kate Kennedy talked about it in her stories, talking about how much celebrity “tea” there was and oh MY was there tea! I did watch Newlyweds back in the day so that was part of it, and I’ve also related to Jessica on and off throughout her life (I think she’s someone people underestimate, and I’ve had a lot of people think I’m stupid because I can be spacey; there’s a difference).
She talked about all of her relationships in an extremely unfiltered way (the John Mayer parts were my favorite!) Highly recommend, and if you are quarantined in NYC and taking daily walks to stay sane, Jessica makes for the perfect walking partner!!!
- Overall Score: A-
If I Never Met You, by Mhairi McFarlane
Mhairi McFarlane is one of Becca’s favorite authors but I’d never read anything by her until this one! And oh my, it is so cute. If you’ve ever gone through a crushing break up I think you will appreciate this one. It has everything: endearing characters you can deeply relate to, a soul-crushing breakup, great girlfriends, a mini makeover, a bit of revenge, and a little bit of that Hating Game style office romance.
Laurie finds herself left reeling after her boyfriend of EIGHTEEN YEARS breaks up with her, leaving her for another woman who gets pregnant pretty much immediately after the breakup. Her (very handsome but total playboy) coworker Jamie hatches a plan where they will pretend to date to a) help Jamie be taken more seriously at work and b) help create some jealousy to distract from the humiliation and grief on Laurie’s side. The only problem? Laurie finds herself falling for him. I won’t say anymore as I don’t want to give anything away. I LOVED this book and think you will too. Now I’m committing to read more of Mhairi’s books!!!
- Overall Score: A
Big Summer, by Jennifer Weiner (Out 5/5)
I LOVED THIS BOOK! I had received two ARCs and gave one to my mom… mine was sitting in my TBR pile and my mom and I were talking and she was like, “Oh didn’t you just love Big Summer” and I hadn’t read it yet so I paused on another book and picked it up and just devoured it!!!! There are some fun parallels to my own life (the main character is an influencer + it’s set partially in New York and Cape Cod, where I grew up).
It’s the story of two (very different) girlfriends fixing their friendship. Daphne is a plus size influencer who grew up in New York in a working class family and had a scholarship for everything. She’s making ends meet nannying and running her Instagram. Meanwhile, her former best friend Drue is one of those people who has just had everything come easy to her: she’s rich, pretty, and newly engaged. She’s also a bit of a mean girl. The two reunite for her wedding and you think you’re getting a cute girlfriends redemption friendship story but then there’s a big mystery. I loved it!
- Overall Score: A
He Started It, by Samantha Downing. (out 7/28)
A trio of adult siblings (and their spouses) embark upon a cross country road trip mandated by their grandfather in order to spread his ashes and collect their hefty inheritance. OK we will start with the good here. The twist in this thriller got me and I was very surprised (there were a lot of twists, actually). This book has a lot. An unreliable narrator, family drama, and (one of my favorite elements) two mysteries occuring in alternate timelines.
But… I just didn’t find this book all that enjoyable. I wanted to love it – I loved the author’s first book, My Lovely Wife! And I think it was because I generally don’t love a road trip plot line (the same people and dialogues in the same space – a car – for an extended period of time) …it wears on you! I don’t know. This was a slog for me. There were holes in the plot and while it did get better around page 170 or so, I didn’t love it. I came so close to DNF’ing but needed to know what happened so continued to slog through.
- Overall Score: C+
I love your book reviews, I always look forward to them! Thanks for sharing! ❤️✨
Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
I’ve also found reading difficult in these past several weeks and I was so encouraged by you and Becca (and other reader-people) who stared it was hard for them too! #wereallinthistogether
I feel like I finally broke through my wall this past weekend and I’m back on track. I read Lydia Bird and really enjoyed it too! I didn’t cry, but I think it’s just from having all of my emotions already wrung out. I think I would’ve cried under normal circumstances. I also read Matchmaking for Beginners – another sweet story about having to start over and discover who YOU are and what you want for your life. The characters are a little kooky and delightful. 🙂
Someone likened that feeling to Cameron Diaz in the holiday… it’s weird how this time can mess with yur emotions!
I LOVED Matchmaking for Beginners. I read it a year or two ago and it remains a FAV!!!
Adding a few of these to my “want to read” list!! I’ve been feeling the same as you— I just want to read something warm and fuzzy right now. Can’t wait to see what you read next— your book recs are my favorite 🙂
Literally buying If I never met you right now on my kindle! Can’t wait to read it
It is so, so good – ENJOY!
Absolutely loved “If I Never Met You” and consumed it in one night! Another good read if you haven’t checked it out is “The Flatshare” by Beth O’Leary. A bit more serious and not strictly chick lit but such a heartwarming story and sweet romance. I cried tears of joy and relief at points.
SO GOOD!!!! And thank you for the rec!!! I need a good cathartic cry book 😉
I’ve just finished I’ll Give You the Sun and absolutely loved it. Now I can listen to your podcast episode. I was having a hard time getting into reading lately too, I abandoned one book at the start before.
Oh good, hope you enjoy the ep!
I’m reading Darling Rose Gold. I hate all the characters, but I have to know how it ends. I’m also starting Conviction. I’m going to have to follow these with something fun!
Haha I felt exactly the same! HAD to know!!
Needing some light and fun reading so this list is great. I finally read The Idea of You. I wasn’t sure it was for me, but I decided to try it since you and Becca raved about it and I loved it! Stay well!
Oh my gosh best book ever!!!
I can’t wait for Big Summer! I think I may pre-order it. I’m currently reading The Alice Network. It’s taking forever because most of my reading is usually done via audible on my commute, but now I’m working from home, and my reading time has taken a hit! I might have to go back to kindle/hardcopy for the time being!
I put some of these on my list. I’m currently reading The Interestings and not sure how I feel about it yet. I’m almost 200 pages in so I guess at this point I should finish it but it is long and drawn out. Oh I love your comforter! Do you remember where you bought it? I have had mine forever and could use a new one.
I thinnnnnk I might have DNF’d that one!!!! Can’t remember.
And thank you – it’s by my sister, Rebecca Atwood! I think it went on sale and sold out but the pillowcases are still available.
She has some other really beautiful ones here: https://rebeccaatwood.com/collections/duvets
I’m late to this post — things have been crazy!
Daphne so reminded me of you in Big Summer, and then when I got to “that part” in the book I thought, “Grace is going to love this!”
Right now I’m reading Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk, and I think you’d really enjoy it! It’s about an old woman who reflects on her life, she lives in New York and it just does a great way of illustrating life in the city since during the whole 20th century. It’s a short book, so also good for the pandemic attention spans. Definitely going to check out Lydia Bird, I’ve heard good things!
Thanks Grace for your monthly recommendations- they are my first port of call when I need a new book!
I also loved If I never met you and couldn’t put it down- I am from Manchester and have spent my last two birthdays at The Refuge bar and it’s really funny to me to think of one of my favourite bloggers reading about it all the way from New York!
Hope you’re staying well x
I am so happy to hear that! Thank you for telling me! And that is so funny, I didn’t know it was even a real place!!!
The cover for He Started It is making me laugh. Looks like something you would buy at the gas station in the 1980s. LOL.
Hahahaha you are totally right!!!!
I am currently reading Open Book and loving it!
IT IS SO GOOD!
My gauge for YA is Becca. Did Becca like the twin?
I don’t think it’s her kind of book; more of a YA thriller.
If it hadn’t been for your recommendation of Jessica Simpson’s audiobook of her memoir, I never would have downloaded it. It has truly kept me company during my walks/runs/while I cook during this quarantine. I am sheltering in place with my family (husband and 5 year old and 2 year old) while both my husband and I work full time jobs remotely, and I can’t tell you how much I enjoy escaping to Open Book and hearing the stories of Jessica’s life. I’ve never even really been a fan of hers, but I really enjoy her frank and honest approach to storytelling. Thank you for sharing! Any other favorite audiobooks that you would recommend for my next download?
That makes me so happy! I felt exactly the same way. To be honest I’m not really a big audiobook person, I just did this one because everyone told ME to! I think other celeb memoirs could be good. Maybe Busy Philips or Demi Moore? Also, if you haven’t already read Becoming by Michelle Obama (I read the paper version) I heard the audio is excellent as she narrates it!
I have read Becoming, and loved it. I did find myself wishing I had listened to the audiobook as well. Good call on the other celebs – at times all I want is a departure from my real life, so listening to celebrity problems feels like a true departure. One audiobook that I loved was Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime. I actually read a paper copy first and wanted to hear it in his voice, so I downloaded and listened to it again, and it was well worth hearing in his (in my opinion) very sexy South African accent. Thanks for the tips, and I really appreciate you responding to my comment!
you’re so welcome. Happy listening! I love Trevor Noah so may need to check that out.
Just started following your blogs during quarantine and I’m loving them!
I’ve added so many books to my “To Read List” based on your books lists. Now I actually just need to start reading some of them lol.
Anyway I wanted to recommend Christmas at Tiffany’s by Karen Swan. I read it on the beach a few years ago and I couldn’t put it down. It’s a really nice light read and might satisfy the wanderlust a lot of us are feeling nowadays.
Thank you so much for the rec!
I just love your recommendations! I bought “If I never met you” yesterday and I finished in what? Five hours? Six? Thank you so much for your recommendations! See you on the next suggestions post!
OMG SO good, right? One of my fav recent reads.