March Reading Recap: Put Down the Phone, Pick Up the Book

Published by The Connected Reader on


I’m not sure how we are at the March Reading Recap of 2024, but here we are. Another month that feels like it flew by to me.

Life is full these days, and yet my reading life is still chugging along. I think it’s fueled by two things: 1. Great audiobooks (and abandoning ones that are not holding my attention) and 2. Leaving my phone downstairs at night so my default is reading and not scrolling.

What did you read this month? Have you read any of these books?

My Favorite of the Month

The cover of the book Anita de Monte Laughs Last by Xochitl Gonzalez. It is orange and pink with a women's face.

Anita de Monte Laughs Last by Xochitl Gonzalez

Print   Audio

I found this to be a mesmerizing story and audiobook; I liked González’s first book, Olga Dies Dreaming, but I LOVED this one. The story works in two timelines: 1. Anita de Monte is an up-and-coming artist, originally from Cuba, in the 1970s and 1980s. She becomes entangled in a relationship with an established artist (read: white man) whose career is at its peak and then waning as she soars. 2. Raquel is a Latina from New York City studying art at an Ivy League college. She she starts a relationship with the star student in her department (read: white man). The stories connect as Raquel learns about de Monte’s work and suspicious death. The voice of Anita, because of both the written words and the narration, is just fantastic and drives this complicated and compelling story. This was on my list of fiction I wanted to get to in 2024 and I’m so glad I did.

The rest of the March Reading Recap

The cover of Birds of a Feather by Jacqueline Winspear. It has a women on the cover with birds and construction cranes.

Birds of a Feather by Jacqueline Winspear

Print   Audio

Book two of the Maisie Dobbs mystery series delivered for me. I liked the first book, but it focused mostly on the back story and less and on the mystery, and I was curious how that balance would play out in the series moving forward. This book contained a mystery that stood by itself while also allowing the ongoing development of Maisie’s life and her interactions with the recurring supporting characters. This takes place in 1930s England and focuses on the post-war life, and I think this will be one I keep going back to this year. There are 17 books in the series so far, so it will keep me busy.

The cover of Once Upon a Quinceañera by Monica Gomez-Hira. It has a girl in a fancy dress on top of a mult-tiered cake.

Once Upon a Quinceañera by Monica Gomez-Hira

Print   Audio

Carmen is an 18-year-old trying to finish high school, figure out what to do next, and navigate family drama, and deal with a boy from her past who is somehow back in town. And she’s going to do it all while working as a hostess for a company that sends Disney princesses and princes out to children’s birthday parties. This one is funny and I loved the big scene at the end, as well as the flash-forward epilogue. It did feel a little long to me and I found some of Carmen’s internal struggle a little tedious. This may be more 39-year-old me lacking patience for the characters in a Young Adult book, then any real critique of the story.

The cover of the book The Clinic by Cate Quinn. It has a spooky-looking castle on the edge of a cliff.

The Clinic by Cate Quinn

Print   Audio

A celebrity dies at a rehab facility and her sister admits herself to the facility undercover to find out what really happened. Mysteries that are more thrillers are not my usual genre, but I read about this one in Book Page and was intrigued. I’m not really sure why. I listened to this and it started off promising, but dragged a bit for me. There was a twist that I sort of saw coming toward the end and an ending that was only so-so for me. Again, not my usual genre, so it’s possible it just wasn’t for me.

The cover of Wandering Stars by Tommy Orange. It has the title in large black letters with orange and white stars scattered around.

Wandering Stars by Tommy Orange

Print   Audio

This is a companion novel to Orange’s first novel, There There. It starts out as a prequel of sorts, following the family tree of one of the characters in the first book back to the 1800s to trace the roots of – or lack of roots – for this indigenous family in the United States. The second part brings us back to the present and the lives of Orvil, his two younger brothers, and his grandmothers, Jacquie and Opal after the traumatic event that occurred at the end of There There. This felt like two books to me – one part epic family story, one part reflection on addiction, pain, and identity – and those parts didn’t quite meld, but I appreciated each of them on their own. Reading this did make me want to go back and re-read There There, and I still put Tommy Orange on my auto-read list.

The cover of Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead. It has the title in large red letters and behind it, a sketch of the windows of an apartment building with a boy looking out a window with binoculars.

Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead

Print   Audio

Georges is a middle-school aged boy who moves to a new apartment building in New York City. He meets Safer, a boy his age, and they start a friendship based on spying on a man in the building. This middle grade book explores friendship and how we fit in – or don’t – in the spaces in our lives. I read this aloud with my almost 9-year-old and appreciated the opportunities to talk about bullying and hard interactions that happen at school, but otherwise I think the premise here is a little convoluted. I love Rebecca Stead and love a few of her other books more than this one.

The cover of The Fairfleet Affair by K.H. Saxton. It has a boy and a girl looking at a notebook. They are seated in a treehouse.

The A & A Detective Agency: The Fairfleet Affair by K.H. Saxton

Print   Audio

One of my favorite things to do is browse the new book shelves at the library for books I’ve never heard of that just pop out to me. This was one I found on the new book shelf in the children’s section and it stood out for me because I’m always looking for books with Asian Indian girl protagonists to give to my girls.. Asha and Alex are middle school detectives. The leader of an arts institute in their town goes missing and the grownups are reluctant to look into – but Asha and Alex aren’t. This is one of the those children’s books that you need to suspend reality a bit – like where ARE Asha’s and Alex’s parents? – but it was a delightful little puzzle to watch them figure out.

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