What I Read in March 2022

This month was a WHIRLWIND!

Finished my job in Myrtle Beach. Drove to Tennessee to paint and clean up our house. Flew back to Myrtle Beach. Packed up all our things and then hit the road again to officially move. Phew, I’m exhausted. And to top it all off, I’m currently suffering from really bad allergies, because I’m allergic to Tennessee. But surprisingly amidst all this crazy, I was able to read 6 book this month! With starting my new hospitalist/intensivist job next month, I anticipate I’ll be reading a lot less. But hoping I still find a way to squeeze in a few books. I’ve been loving using Libby through the public library to get books to my Kindle. It’s probably saved me $100 at this point. If you’re a ravenous reader like myself, you gotta find loopholes to save money otherwise this hobby will make you go broke fast!

So here are the books I read in March 2022…

Cleaning Up Your Mental Mess – Dr. Caroline Leaf

Scientifically based recommendations on how to reduce anxiety, stress, and toxic thinking by controlling your mind. Did I learn from this book? Absolutely, but I wasn’t really smitten with the content. I felt like it was fairy repetitive and could have been condensed. But I did enjoy the overall message of the book!

Toxic thoughts, depression, anxiety–our mental mess is frequently aggravated by a chaotic world and sustained by an inability to manage our runaway thoughts. But we shouldn’t settle into this mental mess as if it’s just our new normal. There’s hope and help available to us–and the road to healthier thoughts and peak happiness may actually be shorter than you think.

I listened to this on audiobook and I will say that because of the nature of her research, this book would read better on paper. I think the audiobook kind of affected my rating for it overall. But I did learn from her research and am interested in reading more of her books. If you struggle with overwhelm, stress, or anxiety, this book would be great to give your tools for success. 

One Italian Summer – Rebecca Serle

A beautiful tale of how one woman finds that strength to overcome her own heartache through the wisdom of the one she misses the most. I listened to this on audiobook over the past two days and really loved the eloquent writing style and meaningful plot.

When Katy’s mother dies, she is left reeling. Carol wasn’t just Katy’s mom, she was her number one. She had all the answers and now, when Katy needs her the most, she is gone. To make matter worse, their planned mother-daughter trip of a lifetime looms: two weeks in Positano, the magical town Carol spent the summer right before she met Katy’s father. Katy has been waiting years for Carol to take her, and now she is faced with embarking on the adventure alone.

Vivid depictions of the food, culture, and sheer romance of Italy paired with a heart wrenching tale of how a daughter copes with the loss of her mother. I really enjoyed this book and definitely recommend it to anyone in need of a good spring break/summer read! I can’t wait to read more of Rebecca Serle’s novels! Also to note: Lauren Graham is the narrator for the audiobook which truly brought this book to another level.

We Begin At the End – Chris Whitaker

TRIGGER WARNING: this book does contain death/murder, abuse, loss of parents, foster care, profanity.

A forty-something year old sheriff and a thirteen-year-old girl may not seem to have a lot in common. But they both have come to expect that people will disappoint you, loved ones will leave you, and if you open your heart it will be broken. So when trouble arrives with Vincent King, Walk and Duchess find they will be unable to do anything but usher it in, arms wide closed.

There are a lot of story lines at play in this book, so it’s truly hard to encapsulate it all into one concise review. But I listened to this on audiobook and really enjoyed the intertwined storylines. Despite how sad this book’s themes are, I enjoyed the overarching theme of how the human spirit prevails even amidst the most trying of obstacles. A thoughtful, moving book full of resilience, mystery, and the heavy task of overcoming one’s unique inborn circumstances.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo – Taylor Jenkins Reid

Glamour, intrigue, sensuality, and ruthlessness: that’s Evelyn Hugo in a nutshell. She’s a woman who has spent her life climbing her way to the top of the upper echelon of Hollywood society by whatever means necessary. 

However she believes much of her success story has not yet been told. And she has chosen Monique Grant, an unknown magazine reporter, to help her write her coveted memoir. The book encapsulates Evelyn’s story of sacrifice, ambition, forbidden love, and her multitude of marriages told through the eyes of Evelyn.

I loved the over-the-top drama of Hollywood and the generous depictions of opulence and stardom, but the love stories overall were unbelievable to me. I can’t imagine anyone actually going to such great lengths to keep their own secret in any time period, but maybe that’s naive of me to think. And the theme of owning your sexuality whether it be homosexual, bisexual, etc. was overemphasized in my opinion. Overall it was an easy read and kept my attention. But would I read it again or suggest it to anyone? Unlikely.

A Good Neighborhood – Therese Anne Fowler

So I saw on @meagansbookclub IG that she had gotten an ARC of Fowler’s newest book “It All Comes Down To This” and it didn’t meet her expectations. But I thought I’d try reading one of her older books. And this one is the perfect blend of mystery, intrigue, racial influences, and what it means to be a neighbor in the Southern US.

Set in an established neighborhood in North Carolina, Oak Knoll, where everything is picturesque and perfect. Until a professor of forestry and ecology, Valerie Alston-Holt, gains new neighbors who puts her beloved oak tree at risk by them building a mega mansion next door. The Whitmans, a conservative family with new money and ambition, move in next door to Valerie and appear to threaten the very life she has worked so hard to maintain. Elements of racial tension, southern culture, star crossed teenage love, and white supremacy are pervasive throughout this novel.

Told from the point of view of an unnamed neighbor, “A Good Neighborhood” asks big questions about life in Southern America today―How do we live alongside each other when we don’t see eye to eye?―as it explores the effects of class, race, and teenage love in a story that’s as provocative as it is powerful.

The New Neighbor – Karen Cleveland

Thank you to NetGalley and Ballantine Books for my ARC of this stellar novel. As it turns out, Karen Cleveland herself is a former CIA analyst which makes the backdrop of this story all the more realistic. Loved the plot and how you’re constantly guessing who the “Neighbor” is. Worth the read. To hit bookshelves July 26th 2022!

Perfect neighborhood, idyllic family, purposeful career. CIA analyst Beth Bradford appears to have it all. Until she moves out of her forever family home on the brink of divorce right when her son goes off to college. Beth is moving from the cul-de-sac she’s long called home, and the CIA has just removed her from the case that she’s been tracking for 10+ years: monitoring an Iranian intelligence agent known as The Neighbor. 

This book gave me some “Woman in The Window” vibes since Beth appears to have an alcohol issue early on in the novel. Is she an unreliable narrator? I loved the whodunnit chase of trying to figure out who’s behind this on their cul-de-sac, no one can be trusted and everyone is suspect. If you are looking for a fun, fast-paced mystery, this move is worth a read. I’ve never read any of her other books, but it appears she writes a lot about CIA with personal experience to tout.

What books did you enjoy reading in March?

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