March Books 2023

March turned out to be a good month for getting quite a few books wrapped up.  The seven books I read spanned a wide variety of ideas and premises, but many of them explored the inner workings of people and what makes them worthy of time and consideration.  This month also included a 5/5 star rating for me, which is alway great.  Come see what I read and I hope you find a book that seems worth your time.

Books will be rated on a 1 – 5 star scale with 1 being bad and 5 being excellent.  If you enjoy what you see and don’t want to wait until the next book post, please follow us on Goodreads.  We’ll stay consistently updated there before compiling our month’s reading and thoughts here.

The comics I have read will also be included at the end of the post.  Those will just be listed and not officially reviewed.  However, if you ever want to hear about any specific comic in particular or want my thoughts, don’t be afraid to ask.  I enjoy discussing everything I read. 

Let’s go!

The Silent Corner by Dean Kootz – 3/5 Stars

FBI agent, Jane Hawk is investigating a shocking large string of suicides by accomplished and influential people, who seemingly had no reason to go down such a dark path.  For Jane, this case is extra personal because her husband is one of the dead.  Jane has no support from heer organization and will need to go rogue on this mission.  As she digs, she’ll make powerful enemies who will to cross any line to stop Jane’s hunt for the truth.

The overall premise of this novel is good and there is a lot to like about the story beats.  The initial mystery is solid and the reveals set up a powerful foe for Jane to take on.  In fact, despite not loving this book, I am curious about where the series goes and how the answers continue to unfold.  Kootz created an interesting world and dilemma for his characters.  

Sadly, the actual writing left a lot to be desired.  A lot of the dialogue felt off and far from how people would actually talk to each other, resembling bad action movie dialogue and coming off as inauthentic.  Also, while I appreciate a strong female protagonist on a mission, Kootz often did wrong by Jane Hawk.  Almost every character, male and female, talks about how attractive Jane is, how amazingly beautiful this “looker” is.  So much focus is put on her appearance and being a woman, the female protagonist role doesn’t feel empowering but objectifying.

Kootz also seemingly uses Jane and her supporting cast to strangely spout his opinions.  Jane only listens to older music because the good stuff.  Today’s college kids are politically correct, softies who can’t handle things.  Modern pop culture and trends are weird.  What’s happened to the world!  This feels like a book written by an older person.

Again, there is a lot to like about The Silent Corner, but there is also a lot to distract from the potentially strong story.  This would be a good book for lovers of action, thrillers with a bit of mystery, as long as they can look past a few flaws.  I may eventually look into the next book in the series, but I’m not rushing out now.

The Rainbringer by Adam Berg – 3.5/5 Stars

Teenaged Yara has been selected as this year’s rainbringer, a role that will soon fall to her best friend, Nika.  Each year, the rainbringer starves alone in a bamboo hut, and in return the island receives rainfall which protects it from monsters.  However, both Yara and Nika refuse to let tradition simply be.  They want what’s best for their community but they also want answers.  It quickly becomes clear that the rainbringer tradition has been built on lies and in order to truly save their community, these girls are going to have to break some rules.

The Rainbringer is built around an interesting premise and enjoyable characters.  The story hits a good stride in pacing for its mysteries and reveals.  This is a quick book that should keep readers engaged throughout.

The two main characters are likable but they also come off as the teenagers that they are.  Clashing with the more archaic setting is their very modern behavior and dialogue.  They rush of jokes and flippantness, even in the face of high stakes, can feel odd, however, it also reads somewhat true to the ridiculousness of actual teenagers who truly don’t understand the world around them.  Readers’ mileage may vary on their acceptance of Nika and Yara’s voices.   

Where The Rainbringer truly stumbles a bit is in its polish.  Sometimes the revealed truths and other actions can come off as a bit muddled or unclear.  When a lot of the story hinges on both character development and the revelation of ancient secrets, it’s not great when the reveals don’t make the most sense and the character growth feels a bit forced.  

The Rainbringer isn’t a perfect book, but it’s enjoyable and unique.  Berg shows off a decent debut novel that shows promise for future projects.  This book is best for those who like interesting premises, corny teenage dialogue, and quick paced action.      

Mika in Real Life by Emiko Jean – 4.5/5 Stars

Mika’s life is not what she hoped it would be come.  She may have her best friend, but nothing else is where she wants it to be.  Job, boyfriend, space of her own, happy family: Mika has none of it.  So much of Mika’s disappointing life stems from the pain of having to give up the baby she had as a teenager.  Now, sixteen years later, that child has reached out to Mika.  Have Mika’s dreams finally come true, and what can Mika offer her daughter when her life is such a mess? Mika’s answer: lie to her daughter to seem more put together than Mika actually is.

Mika in Real Life is a story of relationships and life.  The novel delves into mother/daughter relationships of different generations and the idea of romantic relationships as well.  This is a book with a lot of emotion that is sure to tough many readers’ hearts, both in happy and sad ways.  

A lot of the story falls into classic rom-com and sitcom style shenanigans, but the heart and feelings flowing beneath all else makes this book worth reading.  I also liked that the book never stalled on any plot piece too long.  Several elements of the novel would have been an entire different book, but the author had a bigger story to tell, so she keep everything moving without making the story feel rushed or overloaded.

There is a lot here for parents and simply people who know what it’s like to care deeply about someone else to dig into.  This is a strong novel with great character work, that perfectly straddles the fine line of indulging humor and dealing with heartfelt topics.

Mothered by Zoje Stage – 3/5 Stars

Life is tough enough for Grace during a world-wide pandemic.  It only gets worse when her mother, Jackie, needs to move in with Grace.  Their relationship has never been great, and Grace isn’t sure how well they’ll share a space after being apart for so long.  The claustrophobic isolation is getting to the pair and it isn’t helped by the memories of Grace’s dead twin hanging between the two women.

This novel starts off built around personal drama and discomfort, but quickly spirals into some wild places.  As Grace’s nightmares and memories overwhelm her, and her grasp on reality starts to waver, the novel soon becomes a blur of psychological terror and uncertainty.  It can be tough to know what’s actually happening and what is only in Grace’s mind.  

For the most part, Mothered is a good book that keeps the reader wanting to see where it all is going.  Depending on one’s taste for concrete drama vs. almost supernatural dilemmas, the book’s mileage may vary, but it does stay entertaining throughout.  It should also feel very relatable for anyone who had any trouble coping with isolation or the troubles of the recent pandemic themselves.

Grace isn’t the kind of character one roots for, but she is a fascinating look into a cracking mind, who is lacking closure and understanding.  

This is a good book for those who like psychological horror, weirder plot points, and family woes.

Cataloging for School Librarians by Marie Kelsey – 3/5 Stars

For those looking for information about cataloging, this is a great resource.  It is full of history, examples, and details.  The book can definitely be a bit dense, but if joined with some basic knowledge of cataloging or a cataloging class, it should quickly become decipherable and extremely useful.  

Some of the text can be a bit dry and feel a little dated (sections devoted to less prominent media and practices), but those can easily be skimmed or skipped.  Also, a third edition of the text is currently in the works as of this writing, so many of the slightly dated issues should be addressed.  

We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson – 5/5 Stars

Life has not been Kind to Henry Denton.  His boyfriend committed suicide last year.  He is losing his grandmother to alzheimer’s.  His mother is barely holding it together.  He is bullied at home and at school.  Henry is also occasionally abducted by aliens.  Now, the aliens have placed the fate of the world in Henry’s hands.  All he has to do is press a big red button to save the world.  He has 144 days to do it.  Henry isn’t sure he wants to.  With time slipping away, Henry looks to figure out if humanity is worth saving or it’s better to just let it all go.

We Are the Ants’s narrator, Henry, is infused with so much life and character.  The reader truly feels his high and lows, mostly lows.  This novel isn’t a non-stop downer, though there is plenty of feel broken hearted about, but instead is a search for life’s meaning and worth.  It’s a weighing of the small goods vs universal vastness.  

One of the great aspects of We Are the Ants is how layered each character is.  Henry’s life is full of people, and over the course of the novel he will need to not only explore his own worth, but those around him.  Nobody in this novel is simply a parent, sibling, bully, friend, teacher, etc.  Hutchinson breathes life into each, giving them personal vastness.  They might not all be good people, but they do feel like people.

This novel will play with emotions and have readers wondering about the answers to the questions Henry finds himself asking.  What is humanity’s worth, are we worth saving, and what is the point of it all?  

A fantastic book that is worth checking out, especially for those who enjoy rooting for an underdog, ever feel like an outcast, or want help trying to find value in the world around them.  Big recommendation here.  

Don’t Go Down There by Kiersten Modglin – 3.5/5 Stars

When Andi Edwards gets a notification that her husband has gone home early, she initially reaches out to him teasing about his easy day.  When he doesn’t respond, she starts to worrying.  To ease her mind, she also goes home early.  The answers Andi will soon get will shatter her sense of reality and force her to make some tough decisions.  Andi needs to decide the best way to protect her life, children, and husband… if any of that is even worth protecting any more.

Don’t Go Down There  is a quick read that keeps the plot moving at a brisk pace.  The action and choices are nonstop.  There are a few good twists and readers will be drawn towards seeing how everything plays out for the characters involved.  Can Andi and Spencer come out of this okay or will someone slip up?

As thrilling as this novel was, I did find myself questioning and rolling my eyes at many of the characters’ actions.  It’s understandable that not everyone will think through things clearly during moments of stress and pressure, but sometimes it seemed like characters were actively working against their own interests of self-preservation.  Their actions served the plot well, but they could have made a bit more sense.  

Don’t Go Down There is a fun read that should have readers curious about the ending and questioning just how far characters will go.  

Comics Read This Month:

  • Iron Man: Books of Korvac III: Cosmic Iron Man by Christopher Cantwell
  • Savage Spider-Man by Joe Kelly
  • Symbiote Spider-Man: Crossroads by Peter David
  • Thor vol. 4: God of Hammers by Donny Cates

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