Everything I Read in March 2024.

Everything I Read in March 2024

It was a solid month of books. I read eight books this month which is less than I read in February but still a nice number. I think I read less than usual as I was on such a roll with needlepoint (and yes I know you can listen to audiobooks while stitching – and I do – but for whatever reason I find myself drawn to TV more for that!). My favorites from this month were Such a Bad Influence (pre-order this!!!) and Strange Sally Diamond (dark but excellent). I also really enjoyed Annie Bot. The plot was creative and clever. I liked The Women a lot. My mom and I felt the same way: unputdownable. Still, I have my qualms which you can read below. On audio I LOVED Filterworld (I think everyone should listen/read this one, it’s very thought provoking). Overall, a great month of reading.

I would love for you to share your favorites from this month in the comments!

Everything I Read in March 2024

Thrillers

Such a Bad Influence, by Olivia Muenter (Out 6/4/24)

This is probably the best (fictitious) book about influencers I’ve read thus far. Evelyn Davis (@evelyn) is a mega influencer at just 18 years old. The daughter of influencer Erin Davis… she’s been in the spotlight her whole life, ever since going viral with her father at the tender age of 5. But when she disappears one day, all bets are off as to what happened. Everyone is a suspect. The story is told primarily from the perspective of Evie’s older sister Hazel. Hazel never wanted the spotlight and preferred a mostly offline life. She’s broke, stalled in her career, and absolutely hates where she lives. (Still, it would be better – anything would be better – than moving home to their mother’s house).

Extremely protective of her sister, Hazel is skeptical as everyone seemingly wants a piece of Evie – her fans, her Youtube sensation boyfriend, the brands… but mostly, their ambitious and opportunistic mother. Evie can never be herself and just relax. When Evie disappears, Hazel’s worst fears are brought to light. Theories about Evie’s disappearance take over the internet. We’re taken into Reddit threads (which Olivia managed to capture so perfectly), podcast episodes, videos from her boyfriend, etc. But what really happened to Evie? As Hazel races to figure out what happened, she finds herself questioning if she really does know Evie best. I tore through this in a couple sittings. It is candy. A twisty thriller about the influencer space (and really accurately captured, thanks to Olivia’s influencer background). I loved it! Overall Score: A+ // Order on Amazon.com or Bookshop.

Listen for the Lie, by Amy Tintera

This is the ideal thriller to spend an afternoon (turned into evening) reading the whole thing, which is exactly what I did one Saturday afternoon. Lucy and Savvy were the best of friends in their small Texas town. Savvy was the homecoming queen who everyone adored, whereas Lucy was less likeable, but when Lucy moved back to their town after college, her and Savvy became thick and thieves. And then one night, Savvy is brutally murdered and Lucy is found wandering the streets… covered in her best friend’s blood. She can’t remember anything from that night or who killed her best friend but everyone thinks Lucy is the murderer.

Five years later, Lucy has left town and started a new life in Los Angeles. She is doing alright until: the hit crime podcast “Listen for the Lie” decides to investigate Savvy’s murder. Lucy is fired from her job and returns home determined. to solve her friend’s murder (even if she is the one who did it). This was fun and fast paced, I couldn’t put it down! I loved the podcast angle, and I loved the chemistry between Lucy and the podcast host (handsome, talented Ben Owens). Overall Score: A- // Order on Amazon.com or Bookshop.

Strange Sally Diamond, by Liz Nugent

When I saw that Lisa Jewell said this was the best book she read all year, I knew it was a MUST! I would describe this as a mashup of The Maid and Then She Was Gone. There are trigger warnings for child abuse and rape. It is dark and disturbing. But I like dark. Sally Diamond is a bit of a reclusive and considered a bit strange. When her father dies, there is a miscommunication and she tries to incinerate his body. This causes widespread outrage and she’s thrust into the media spotlight. Something horrible happened to her as a child, things that her parents had buried in the past. But this newfound media attention causes secrets to come to light.

She begins to discover repressed memories. Her new neighbor seems to be a bit obsessed with her. A childhood toy arrives in the mail. Meanwhile, for the first time in her life, Sally is trying to make new friends and live on her own (while navigating social nuances she doesn’t entirely understand). It is rare for a book to feel both horribly dark but also heartwarming, but that is the case here. I couldn’t put it down, I really, really loved it. Overall Score: A // Order on Amazon.com or Bookshop.

Rabbit Hole, by Kate Brody

I did not care for this one. In fairness, it is well written, but the plot just didn’t do it for me. It was very sleepy, nothing happened for a long time, the main character was an unlikeable mess, and I didn’t like the ending. So if you (like me) are a plot-person, you can skip this! Ten years ago, Teddy’s sister Angie went missing. Her case remains unsolved. Now, her father has killed himself. As Teddy scrambles to take care of her mother and try to clean up her dad’s messes, she realizes he was heavily active in an unsolved mystery Reddit community that was fixated on Angie. Teddy finds herself slipping into the same rabbit hole.

She finds herself getting into trouble at work, spending time with a young (troublesome!) girl who reminds her of Angie… losing her moral compass and becoming more and more of an unreliable narrator. Old memories pop up. Her behavior becomes more and more erratic. Can she figure out what happened to her sister (without losing everyone who is important to her?) It’s hard to read and also very slow. I will say that I felt like it captured Reddit forums really well. (And like I said, it’s very well written) But overall I just did not enjoy this book! Overall Score: B- // Order on Amazon.com or Bookshop.

Historical Fiction

The Women, by Kristin Hannah

This had come highly recommended by so many, but I had avoided it as the subject matter didn’t sound interesting to me (it dealt with the war and I typically struggle with war books) and I go up and down with loving and being frustrated by Kristin Hannah. My friend Katie puts it best: Hannah is an incredible story-teller and a medium writer. But when my mom RAVES about a book, I can’t help but read it, and I am so happy I did. I absolutely loved this and devoured it in a couple days. The funny thing is that the war parts wound up being my favorite! That being said, I do think that sometimes Kristin Hannah’s writing can be a little bit predictable; she definitely has a formula.

The second half of the book is usually an unusual amount of hardship and then there is a tear jerker ending (and it works, I cried several times reading this!). Frances (Frankie) McGrath is a twenty year old nursing student who hears “women can be heroes” one day and (inspired by her brother who has recently enlisted in Vietnam) decides to enlist in the Army Nurse Corps. Her conservative parents are not pleased. When she arrives in Vietnam, nothing could possibly have prepared her. Constant chaos and destruction. She is thrown into the thick of things as a surgery nurse, dealing with atrocities she had never believed possible. She also makes new best friends and experiences profound loss.

The first half of the book was definitely my favorite. The second half was a struggle at points (again I don’t want to give any spoilers but I just felt like, how much can Hannah put one character through!?) and the ending felt predictable but overall I loved it. This book is a must-read, even if you aren’t usually a fan of war novels/film. Overall Score: A // Order on Amazon.com or Bookshop.

Lighter Reads

Annie Bot, by Sierra Greer

I absolutely loved this. It’s short (just 220 pages) but had me thinking about it for weeks afterward. I missed Annie and felt sad when the book was over! I have a hard time classifying this book. It reads light, but is extremely smart. And it’s a little bit sci-fi too. Annie Bot is a Stella: a robot that can pass for human, created to be the perfect girlfriend for her human owner, Doug. Annie’s AI makes her seem real. And she satisfies all of his needs: dinner on the table every night, a libido that suits his needs, etc. She is trying to please him, trying her best, and she feels real pain when he is upset.

One day, Annie does something she regrets. She has a secret, and is told that by having a secret, she’ll be more real. But as she becomes more real and human-like, she also becomes less perfect. Doug says he loves that she seems like a real woman, but does he really? As their relationship grows more intricate and difficult, Annie finds herself confused: does Doug really want what he says he wants? Writing this description doesn’t do the book justice. It’s smart, creative, and thought-provoking. I really enjoyed it. Overall Score: A // Order on Amazon.com or Bookshop.

Non-Fiction

Rottenkid, by Brigit Binns

This was a good lesson/reminder that (generally speaking) I just don’t enjoy memoirs of people I’m not already super familiar with. Katie Couric? Britney? Bring it on. I had thought that Brigit Binns’ memoir might be something along the lines of Ruth Reichl (who I fell in love with via her memoirs!) but that was just not the case with this one. I was tempted by the angle of the book (daughter of old Hollywood actor and narcissist mother goes on to live abroad in Europe and write 30 cookbooks) but to be honest, it just didn’t grab me. In fact, I was bored a lot of the time, and the author came across as a bit narcissistic herself.

Memoirs are also hard when you don’t find the narrator particularly likable. On a positive note, it was interesting at times (her descriptions of the food she served at different parties was inspiring – I could have read a book just about her hosting tips and dinner party menus!) but mostly, I was like “why do I care, why am I reading this, I don’t really like this person.” A little bit brutal but I wouldn’t want someone else to waste their time. So unless you are already a fan of Binns and are eager to learn more about her life (and it is an interesting life!) you can skip it. Overall Score: B- // Order on Amazon.com or Bookshop.

Filterworld, by Kyle Chayka

This book got quite a bit of hype and I’m here to tell you that it is worth it and for me, absolutely lived up to all of the online praise. I first heard about this book via this podcast episode (which got SO much attention and I found very interesting). And I wound up listening to it and found myself more and more engrossed as I continued. I will say that I did find the first chapter a little slow (it defines algorithm, explains what they are and how they affect us, and gives you the history of the first algorithms). It was interesting but just felt slow, probably as it wasn’t a ton of new info – you could skip it and be fine. But then: it just gets so good.

Of course as an influencer I know all about the social media algorithms. But what about Air BnB, Spotify, and so much more. It’s not just online spaces; offline spaces have been affected as well. The book talks about so much: from the flattening of culture and how strange it is that trendy restaurants and rentals look the same across the world. Or how our taste is being shaped by these algorithms with us just passively standing by. But also: what to do about it, and how to find your own taste when everything has become so homogenous. I found the whole thing fascinating. And alarming. I had really only thought about algorithms in the sense of how they impact my business vs. my personal life (and taste, decision making, etc.) It’s excellent and will make you really think. Overall Score: A+ // Order on Amazon.com or Bookshop.

Disclosure: If you buy something through my links, I may earn an affiliate commission, at no cost to you. I only feature things I truly love here. Thanks for your support.

Leave a Comment

Leave a Comment

11 Comments

  1. Cait:

    Listen for the Lie was so fun!

    Thrillers this month: I quite liked Kill For Me, Kill For You – I did guess where it was going, but it was still a really fun ride though – read it in one day. I also finished Thirteen by the same author – the premise is that the killer is on the jury! I saw that in the description and was sold. I am not sure how plausible any of it was legally or logically, but didn’t bother me haha. I flew through it because I was so hooked.

    I’m saving Sally Diamond for a plane ride later this month

    4.1.24 Reply
  2. Laura:

    Definitely adding Annie Bot to my list! I don’t tend to gravitate towards shorter works, I like something I can sink my teeth into, so this is a great reminder of the gold that can be found there.

    Steven King’s latest Holly Gibney story, Holly, was my favorite read of March. I’m not a horror fan but this book, and the Bill Hodges trilogy where we first meet Holly, are more traditional mystery thrillers. I so appreciate a complex neuro-atypical character who has a rich life out in the world. (Lack of this was my one complaint about The Maid, but I have book two coming up and am hopeful she comes into her own!)

    4.1.24 Reply
  3. Heidi:

    I am reading The Women right now and am HOOKED even though I know it’ll be sad (her books always are…).
    My favorite March reads were Moloka’i (historical fiction, so beautiful) and None of This is True (couldn’t put it down – thanks for the rec!).

    4.1.24 Reply
    • You are right, always SO SAD!
      And ugh, None of this is true is SO GOOD!!!! I love Lisa Jewell so much. PS – not sure if you caught this in my post but she said that Strange Sally Diamond was the best book she read all year.. high praise!

      4.1.24 Reply
  4. Erica:

    I always look forward to this monthly post and I use your library and recs to build out my TBR list. My two favorite books this past month were The Storyteller by Jody Picoult and The Mostly True Story of Tanner & Louise by Colleen Oakley.

    4.1.24 Reply
  5. Katie:

    I’m so glad you liked Strange Sally Diamond…it is DARK but so original. The second part of the story came as such a surprise to me, and I’m glad you didn’t include it in your write-up, it’s so much better when it takes the reader by (horrifying) surprise.

    I pre-ordered Olivia’s book and absolutely cannot wait to read, I’m glad you loved! Felt the same about The Women, I loved learning more about the women in Vietnam and that part of history, but man the romance storylines were just too much for me.

    My favorite books of the month were Real Americans by Rachel Khong (out later this month) about three generations within a family and some secrets, and The Hop by Diana Clarke, about a legal brothel in NV and the women there, simply put. I think you’d enjoy both, and your mom too!

    4.1.24 Reply
  6. Lauryl:

    I read six books in March – some hits, some misses.

    My number one by far was the Women (5 ⭐️). I was intimidated by the subject and the length, but I ended up reading it in just a couple days. So so engrossing, and I really feel like I learned a lot about the Vietnam War.

    Non-Fiction:
    If You Can’t Take the Heat: Tales of Food, Feminism and Fury by Geraldine DeRuiter ( 4 ⭐️)
    – I really liked this series of essays on the intersection of food, the culinary world and feminism. The author had lots of great illuminating examples of feminism (or the lack thereof) in the culinary industry. For example, how women can be great cooks but rarely are top professional chefs as they have a much harder go of it than men, women chefs being complimented by their beauty (Giada, Nigella) over their food, being held to an impossibly high standard while men are allowed pass after pass and many more personal anecdotes as well. I listened to the book and really liked it!

    Burn Book: A Tech Love Story by Kara Swisher ( 4 ⭐️ )
    – I work in tech, and I like Kara, so I enjoyed this book but I can’t say it felt super different than listening to her podcasts. None of the stories in this book were new or super shocking, but it’s still interesting to hear her insider pov. I respect that she has stayed as a reporter vs jumping ship to big roles at tech companies early on for the money. She is clearly driven by a combination of innovation/seeing the possibilities of the future through technology balanced with calling out bad or naive actors in the industry. Good book, especially the parts about her early days, but not especially earth-shattering.

    Astor: The Rise and Fall of an American Fortune by Anderson Cooper and Kathryn Howe ( 3 ⭐️ )
    – I listened to this book and was fascinated by the story of the Astor family overall. There were some really crazy stories about the Astor family rise, fall, recent demise and highlights of all the characters in the family over the years, especially Caroline Astor and Brooke Astor who each ruled New York society in their own times. The way the story was told was a little hard to follow as it skipped around through people and time. That might be easier in the hard back, but it was still mostly entertaining.

    Fiction:
    Everyone in my Family has Killed Someone by Benjamin Stevenson (2.75 ⭐️ )
    – This is the rare book that I think will be much better as a TV show/movie (which it’s being adapted to now by HBO). In literary form the narrator was too quippy and cutesy about being an author who writes books about mysteries. That took away from building any interest in any of the characters individually so when people died it was hard to care. The mystery was super clever, and all the places earlier in the book that made me wonder what I missed did ultimately matter. But it just wasn’t enough to really care. I will watch a film version though because with real people it should be easier to care about their character development.

    The Rachel Incident by Caroline O’Donoghue (4.25 ⭐️ )
    – This was a fun, quirky story. The main character (Rachel) is 21 and, like most people that age, does not have her life together. She’s endearing and relatable, though, and the story centers on her friendships and relationships and growing up. I enjoyed this book, and even if it didn’t feel like the most dramatic story it was still mostly heartwarming and happy. Oh the only quibble I really have is what the heck the first page actually ended up meaning?!

    Okay that’s all for this month. Cheers to everyone for good reading in April!

    4.4.24 Reply