A Wrap-Up of the Books I Read in March 2021

Cover of the book, The Other Mother by Matthew Dicks, showing the other mother's face and shoulders

The Other Mother by Matthew Dicks

I requested this book on Netgalley and I’m so glad I did!

Even though the title brings Gaiman’s Coraline to mind, this book isn’t horror. The protagonist has Capgras Syndrome and thinks his mother has been replaced by an imposter. First of all, a very unique premise and one that sent me a-searching, which was how I found out about Fregoli Syndrome. Just thinking about the confusion, anxiety, and pain that people who have either of the syndromes must be going through makes me beyond sad!

Secondly, the book was written from the POV of a teenager. The way they describe their daily schedule, how they must see the school counselor each day, and the realization of their own shortcomings when it comes to emotional cues and responses — all of it was done so well.

Thirdly, as I read, I hoped that the protagonist’s broken family would get a happy ending. They do but I found it too sweet and unrealistic.

To sum up, I really enjoyed this story and the emotional rollercoaster ride it took me on!

Cover of the book, The Scarlet Pimpernel by Emmuska Orczy, showing the eponymous red flowers on a sucky green-grey background

The Scarlet Pimpernel by Emmuska Orczy

Such. A. Fun. Book. The French Revolution and the guillotining of royalty form the backdrop for this novel. Our heroine is an aristocrat herself and was saved only because of her marriage to a member of the English aristocracy. She moved to England and watches her country burn from afar. A secret brotherhood of bored, English rich men decide risking their lives to rescue their French counterparts from death might be fun. No one knows who they are or who leads them — the Scarlet Pimpernel.

Now, one of the many things going on in this book is that the heroine’s brother has returned to France to get another aristocrat out. His treasonous act becomes the motive for blackmail for a French nationalist and bad guy. Charged with finding out the identity of the Scarlet Pimpernel, our heroine makes a mess of things. She then does her best to set things right.

Sure, the book’s a typical product of its time. But I had a lot of fun going on this old-fashioned literary adventure!

Cover of the book, Skin Game by Jim Butcher, showing Harry in his duster, holding a gun in one hand and his staff in the other

Skin Game by Jim Butcher

Read all about my grievances with this series here. But you’re in the right place if you came here for a nitpicking sesh on this particular book. Firstly, I have NO idea how the author went from a parasite in Harry’s mind to it being a baby spirit of intellect. Why? Who needed that?

Like Artemis Fowl and Opal, the villains in Dresden Files seem to get away a lot. I mean, sure, it makes it easier for the author to bring one back just so they can kick Harry’s ass again. But there need to be real consequences when Harry goes up against bad guys besides the Red Court.

To date, we’ve seen only two changes in Harry’s characters — this was book 15, mind you! The first is that having been a dad for about 5 seconds, he now knows how to handle a kid perfectly. Secondly, he’s turning into an unreliable narrator. Dunno how I feel about the second one yet but the first one had me rolling my eyes real hard!

He remains as sexist as ever — consider how he hated Binder for being a warlock while Ascher gets a pass on throwing her lot with the Fallen. Just cuz she’s a girl! Additionally, he constantly says he isn’t the best wizard around and how his grandfather and Ascher are heavyweights in the field. Yet, even when handed an island and an entity that knows everything about everything, he doesn’t learn anything new. Shouldn’t have surprised me since Butters is now getting infinitely more use out of Bob than Harry ever could!

No updates on the Black Council and Fallen sub-plots. At all.

Cover of the book, A Very Punchable Face by Colin Jost, with his picture

A Very Punchable Face by Colin Jost

Quite a funny book that made me laugh all the more because I more or less follow SNL. So, I knew who Aidy or Che are! Justifications about Kanye and Trump being a part of SNL felt unnecessary to me. Regardless of how big an ass each is, they did appear on the show. The best thing for all those involved is to own up to it. Most of the chapters on Jost’s childhood were fun to read. The parts about him pooping his pants — multiple times! — read like they were fake. He could have omitted those without affecting the rest of the book. I really liked that he defended his hometown. And that he admitted he has an immensely punchable face. I would have liked to read more about him and Scarlett, though.

Cover of the book, Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach, showing an open mouth (red) on a white background.

Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach

A fun, informative book that covers topics like tastemakers, wine-smellers, poop, and celebrities. It’s true that it’s written to appeal to readers with much interest in science. Other readers will spot the word, bolus, and get flashbacks of high school biology classes. I loved how it felt as if she ended up in the most random places while researching for this book and came away with interesting material. A word of advice, if you skip the footnotes, you skip half the fun.

After reading Gulp, I cannot wait to grab the next Mary Roach book!

Cover of the book, The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two by Catherynne M. Valente, showing the girl in question

The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two by Catherynne M. Valente, Ana Juan (Illustrations)

What I Didn’t Like

Being the third book in a series, I expected it to be less random. It wasn’t. I still don’t see what the overall arc is. Neither did I get why the Blue Wind was being such an ass in this one. Did she have a hidden motive? Why didn’t we find out about it in this book?

Another deal-breaker for me was the forced romance between two usually great characters. Why does this children’s book even need a romance? It was doing okay without one.

All the preaching turned me off big time. Why do we need to know that tools have feelings? What was all that stuff about money even doing in the book?

For quite a bit of the story, our protagonist has no control over what happens to her. She also shows little initiative to correct that.

Now for the Good Parts

We get to meet two old favorites, the Wyverary and Saturday. They stick around for a good while too.

The descriptions may seem florid and over-the-top to many readers but I am used to Valente’s style by now. I liked em!

I really loved the part about September finding her heart/fate and what she does with it.

September’s meeting with the shell with a whole city living inside it, finding the heart, and other scenes result in some amazing quotable lines.

All in all, a pleasant if really random book.

Cover of the book, Me, the Missing, and the Dead by Jenny Valentine, showing a person holding a photo frame in front of their body.

Me, the Missing, and the Dead by Jenny Valentine

Hmmm…so a teenager who’s trying to deal with being abandoned by his father, finds an ash-filled urn in a cab and decides to rescue it. The said father has vanished into the wind, leaving behind a family of six and a best friend. As the boy unearths more about whose ashes he has, he discovers that the person may be linked to the mystery of his father’s disappearance.

The protagonist was likable, even if he did behave like a jerk towards the one parent available to him, i.e., his mom. Unlike the way many YA characters are written, this one made time for his elderly grandparents, rescued the ashes of another older woman who had passed away, and showed growth as the story progressed.

The mystery when it was finally solved wasn’t earth-shatteringly shocking. Even though the coincidence behind the mystery seems unlikely, I liked the execution of it. The characters, like the boy’s grandparents, ​were quirky but not enough to become irritating.

To conclude, this was a quick, short, and enjoyable read that kept my interest throughout.

So, how was March for you?

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