March book club reviews

March came late in many instances. Three book clubs dropped their pick on the 7th, a week in, so I was hanging out with the early posters the first week. The month had 7 books I wanted to read (the 8th that I rolled over from february – Amazing Grace Adams was nowhere to be found) and several I was excited about. You might think I’m being greedy or whiny when I complain about the book clubs picking late. This is because I am a MAJOR mood reader. So it’s tough to have to force yourself to read a book if you’re not in the mood for it. This is why I like options. In this case, I opted for books not on the book club list, but I’ll keep those reviews on my goodreads. So how was March book club reading? It was madness.

Read with Jenna: Black Candle Women by Diane Marie Brown

I tried you guys. Oh the spirits know I tried, but after listening to the first 100 pages, only to realize I had no idea what was going on, I started to read it instead. And let me tell you, I still didn’t follow.
The writing did not penetrate my brain. You know in one ear out the other? It didn’t even go in. It’s like a blockage. Just going to pick a random paragraph to show an example:

“𝙀𝙖𝙘𝙝 𝙩𝙞𝙢𝙚 𝘼𝙪𝙜𝙪𝙨𝙩𝙖 𝙖𝙬𝙤𝙠𝙚 𝙤𝙛𝙛𝙚𝙧𝙚𝙙 𝙖𝙣𝙤𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙧 𝙗𝙖𝙩𝙩𝙡𝙚 𝙬𝙞𝙩𝙝 𝙜𝙧𝙖𝙫𝙞𝙩𝙮. 𝙀𝙖𝙧𝙩𝙝 𝙝𝙖𝙙 𝙝𝙚𝙡𝙙 𝙤𝙣𝙩𝙤 𝙝𝙚𝙧 𝙡𝙤𝙤𝙨𝙚𝙡𝙮 𝙞𝙣 𝙝𝙚𝙧 𝙮𝙤𝙪𝙩𝙝, 𝙤𝙘𝙘𝙖𝙨𝙞𝙤𝙣𝙖𝙡𝙡𝙮 𝙜𝙧𝙖𝙗𝙗𝙚𝙙 𝙝𝙚𝙧 𝙗𝙮 𝙤𝙣𝙚 𝙤𝙛 𝙝𝙚𝙧 𝙗𝙚𝙡𝙩 𝙡𝙤𝙤𝙥𝙨 𝙤𝙧 𝙜𝙧𝙞𝙥𝙥𝙚𝙙 𝙖 𝙨𝙡𝙚𝙚𝙫𝙚, 𝙗𝙪𝙩 𝙞𝙩 𝙝𝙖𝙙 𝙣𝙚𝙫𝙚𝙧 𝙨𝙩𝙤𝙥𝙥𝙚𝙙 𝙝𝙚𝙧 𝙛𝙧𝙤𝙢 𝙡𝙚𝙖𝙥𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙝𝙞𝙜𝙝 𝙬𝙝𝙚𝙣 𝙝𝙚𝙧 𝙗𝙤𝙙𝙮 𝙨𝙤 𝙬𝙖𝙣𝙩𝙚𝙙. 𝙉𝙚𝙫𝙚𝙧 𝙩𝙧𝙞𝙥𝙥𝙚𝙙 𝙝𝙚𝙧 𝙪𝙥. 𝙒𝙞𝙩𝙝 𝙖𝙜𝙚, 𝙜𝙧𝙖𝙫𝙞𝙩𝙮’𝙨 𝙘𝙤𝙢𝙥𝙖𝙣𝙮 𝙝𝙖𝙙 𝙗𝙚𝙘𝙤𝙢𝙚 𝙚𝙫𝙚𝙧 𝙥𝙧𝙚𝙨𝙚𝙣𝙩.”

Is she flying? Falling over a lot? Grounded? Levitating? What’s happening? I’m not comprehending! I’m sure I can deconstruct it if need be, but it doesn’t feel like the type of book or story that should require work.

I can’t even give it a star rating because I have no idea what’s going on here. BUT the synopsis is great! I really wanna read the book about Voodoo in New Orleans and family curses. (I know all about family curses!) but for some reason, this doesn’t feel like it? And it kinda bums me out, cause it sounds so cool.⭐

Diverse Spines: Take my hand by Dolen Perkins-Valdez

This was a goodreads nominee for best historical fiction in 2022 and I see why. Historical fiction is not my favorite genre, but this is an exception to that opinion. Based on the true story of the Relf sisters that were unwillingly sterilized by the state of Alabama when they were 12 and 14 years old. At this time in 1973, black women were a major target to coerced sterilization, and even as a minority, black women were the vast majority of those sterilized.

Well written, easy to grasp and heartshattering without being overly sentimental. The material speaks so well for itsself and I appreciate that. It does well in showing instead of telling.

“𝙊𝙪𝙧 𝙗𝙤𝙙𝙞𝙚𝙨 𝙗𝙚𝙡𝙤𝙣𝙜𝙚𝙙 𝙩𝙤 𝙪𝙨. 𝙋𝙤𝙤𝙧, 𝙙𝙞𝙨𝙖𝙗𝙡𝙚𝙙, 𝙞𝙩 𝙙𝙞𝙙𝙣’𝙩 𝙢𝙖𝙩𝙩𝙚𝙧. 𝙏𝙝𝙚𝙨𝙚 𝙬𝙚𝙧𝙚 𝙤𝙪𝙧 𝙗𝙤𝙙𝙞𝙚𝙨, 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙬𝙚 𝙝𝙖𝙙 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙧𝙞𝙜𝙝𝙩 𝙩𝙤 “𝙙𝙚𝙘𝙞𝙙𝙚 𝙬𝙝𝙖𝙩 𝙩𝙤 𝙙𝙤 𝙬𝙞𝙩𝙝 𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙢. 𝙄𝙩 𝙬𝙖𝙨 𝙖𝙨 𝙞𝙛 𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙮 𝙬𝙚𝙧𝙚 𝙟𝙪𝙨𝙩 𝙩𝙖𝙠𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙤𝙪𝙧 𝙗𝙤𝙙𝙞𝙚𝙨 𝙛𝙧𝙤𝙢 𝙪𝙨, 𝙖𝙨 𝙞𝙛 𝙬𝙚 𝙙𝙞𝙙𝙣’𝙩 𝙚𝙫𝙚𝙣 𝙗𝙚𝙡𝙤𝙣𝙜 𝙩𝙤 𝙤𝙪𝙧𝙨𝙚𝙡𝙫𝙚𝙨.”⭐⭐⭐⭐

GMA bookclub: Pineapple street by Jenny Jackson

I read the 50 first pages and thought it was all fluff. Drivel from priveleged white women on the upper east side. Maybe if it was more “First wives club” and less “Primates of park avenue” I could have gotten into it, but this wasn’t it for me.

I tried another 50 pages and still, no go. The book has nothing driving it forward. I’m just observing unlikable white women being rich and spoiled. Where’s the fun in that? Where’s the drama? Why should I care? Who am I rooting for? Ugh, and I really wanted to love this one because the cover is gorgeous, the author was the editor on one of my favorite books (tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow) and I thought it was going to be a fun and light read. Turns out it was light, airhead light.⭐

Oprah’s book club: Bittersweet by Susan Cain

I knew this was going to be a book I had to have a physical copy of because I was going to annotate the shit out of it! I was right! However, (because there’s always a catch right?) I quickly remembered why don’t like raeding self help books. It feels like work, and not the bittersweet type of work. It feels like I’m working on myself and that isn’t what I’m motivated to do at the end of a long day. I want to relax and unwind with some entertaining stories. I want to feel the bittersweet, the longing and the excitement in that, not just read about it.

This book is great in explaining and showing us the perfect balance of bittersweet. The good type of pain. The euphoria of longing for that which you can’t touch. But it has hills of this and valleys of boring stuff (like the religious parts were a snoozefest to me).

And then you hit chapters that are so interesting, that you just devour them. I’m talking of course about Par II chapter 5 – the chapter about toxic positivity. So interesting!

In the end I loved this book, but it sometimes felt like a chore to read. It’s much like going to the gym. You’re not always in the mood for it, but after, you feel really glad you did it. I wan’t to rate it 5 stars on the really good parts and 2 stars on the really boring pars, so here we are in the middleish. ⭐⭐⭐

Belletrist: What happened to Ruthy Ramirez by Claire Jiménes

This is one of those books that hooks you on the prologue and you pray that it will be able to keep it up throughout. And this one did! I would have read it in one sitting if it wasn’t for the fact that I had to go to work.Thirteen year old Ruthy Ramirez lives with her parents and two sisters in Staten Island when she suddenly disappears one day after track practice. Twelve years later her sister sees a woman on tv she thinks may be Ruthy.

𝙄𝙣 𝙢𝙮 𝙥𝙤𝙘𝙠𝙚𝙩, 𝙄 𝙛𝙚𝙡𝙩 𝙛𝙤𝙧 𝙖 𝙨𝙢𝙖𝙡𝙡 𝙜𝙞𝙛𝙩 𝙄’𝙙 𝙗𝙧𝙤𝙪𝙜𝙝𝙩 𝙝𝙚𝙧, 𝙖 𝙈𝙖𝙙𝙤𝙣𝙣𝙖 𝙢𝙚𝙙𝙖𝙡𝙡𝙞𝙤𝙣 𝙩𝙝𝙖𝙩 𝙨𝙝𝙚 𝙝𝙖𝙙 𝙖𝙡𝙬𝙖𝙮𝙨 𝙡𝙤𝙫𝙚𝙙 𝙜𝙤𝙬𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙪𝙥, 𝙩𝙝𝙖𝙩 𝙄’𝙙 𝙣𝙚𝙫𝙚𝙧 𝙡𝙚𝙩 𝙝𝙚𝙧 𝙩𝙤𝙪𝙘𝙝 𝙗𝙚𝙘𝙖𝙪𝙨𝙚 𝙞𝙩 𝙝𝙖𝙙 𝙗𝙚𝙚𝙣 𝙢𝙮 𝙢𝙤𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙧’𝙨. 𝙃𝙤𝙬 𝙨𝙩𝙪𝙥𝙞𝙙 𝙄 𝙬𝙖𝙨, 𝙩𝙝𝙞𝙣𝙠𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙤𝙣𝙚 𝙩𝙝𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙢𝙤𝙧𝙚 𝙫𝙖𝙡𝙪𝙖𝙗𝙡𝙚 𝙩𝙝𝙖𝙣 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙤𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙧. 𝙔𝙤𝙪 𝙘𝙖𝙣 𝙝𝙖𝙫𝙚 𝙖𝙣𝙮𝙩𝙝𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙍𝙪𝙩𝙝𝙮. 𝙅𝙪𝙨𝙩 𝙘𝙤𝙢𝙚 𝙗𝙖𝙘𝙠.

The story is told from different perspectives and jumping in the timline to scenes before and after her disappearance. To my happy surprise, we also get Ruthy’s side! (This is very satisfying!) Sometimes the book goes a little off course, like it gets lost in itself and a few sidestories. But then it course corrects and we’re back on track. The best chapters the ones with the core family when they interact with each other. I recognize so many of these relationships I have with my own family. My mother is Ruthy’s mother on so many levels. And I ache for them all.  This book is so driven, by the mystery of what happened to Ruthy, by their family secrets, by their grief and their love for each other even through all the pain. These are flawed humans I believe to be very real. This has to be one of the most satisfying books I’ve ever read. A five star, easy! ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Amarie’s book club: An Autobiography of Skin by Lakiesha Carr

𝘼𝙣𝙙 𝙨𝙝𝙚 𝙨𝙖𝙬 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝘽𝙡𝙖𝙘𝙠 𝙥𝙚𝙤𝙥𝙡𝙚 𝙢𝙖𝙧𝙘𝙝 𝙪𝙣𝙩𝙞𝙡 𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙮 𝙜𝙤𝙩 𝙩𝙞𝙧𝙚𝙙.
– 𝘼𝙣𝙤𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙧 𝙗𝙤𝙙𝙮
𝙎𝙝𝙚 𝙨𝙖𝙬 𝘽𝙡𝙖𝙘𝙠 𝙥𝙚𝙤𝙥𝙡𝙚 𝙢𝙖𝙧𝙘𝙝 𝙖𝙜𝙖𝙞𝙣 𝙪𝙣𝙩𝙞𝙡 𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙮 𝙜𝙤𝙩 𝙩𝙞𝙧𝙚𝙙.
– 𝘼𝙣𝙤𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙧 𝙗𝙤𝙙𝙮
𝙎𝙝𝙚 𝙨𝙖𝙬 𝙩𝙚𝙝 𝘽𝙡𝙖𝙘𝙠 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙬𝙝𝙞𝙩𝙚 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙗𝙧𝙤𝙬𝙣 𝙥𝙚𝙤𝙥𝙡𝙚 𝙢𝙖𝙧𝙘𝙝 𝙪𝙣𝙩𝙞𝙡 𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙮 𝙜𝙤𝙩 𝙩𝙞𝙧𝙚𝙙. 𝙏𝙝𝙚 𝙣𝙚𝙬𝙨 𝙬𝙤𝙪𝙡𝙙 𝙡𝙞𝙜𝙝𝙩 𝙪𝙥 𝙬𝙞𝙩𝙝 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙚𝙣𝙚𝙧𝙜𝙮 𝙤𝙛 𝙚𝙭𝙘𝙞𝙩𝙚𝙙𝙙 𝙧𝙚𝙥𝙤𝙧𝙩𝙚𝙧𝙨’ 𝙖𝙙𝙧𝙚𝙣𝙖𝙡𝙞𝙣𝙚 𝙪𝙣𝙩𝙞𝙡 𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙮 𝙩𝙤𝙤 𝙜𝙤𝙩 𝙩𝙞𝙧𝙚𝙙.
– 𝘼𝙣𝙤𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙧 𝙗𝙤𝙙𝙮”

This is a beautifully written book about the lives inside the skin of black women. In this book we get three different interconnected stories.
I have conflicting thoughts on this and that to me is always hard to review. What do I weight heavier in my review? Or what was the overall reading experience? Unfortunately, it wasn’t great, mostly due to the lack of a story. These are just small glimpses into these lives, but there was little to follow in terms of a storyline. And that became an issue for me. Because, while the writing is beautiful, emotional and raw, I couldn’t pin it to anything. But at the same time, it was more than just reflections and tried to be more, but fell short.

“𝙎𝙝𝙚 𝙝𝙖𝙙 𝙖𝙨𝙨𝙞𝙢𝙞𝙡𝙖𝙩𝙚𝙙 𝙪𝙣𝙩𝙞𝙡 𝙨𝙝𝙚’𝙙 𝙗𝙚𝙘𝙤𝙢𝙚 𝙣𝙤𝙩𝙝𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙢𝙤𝙧𝙚 𝙩𝙝𝙖𝙣 𝙖 𝙜𝙖𝙨𝙥, 𝙖 𝙗𝙡𝙪𝙧𝙧𝙮 𝙥𝙞𝙘𝙩𝙪𝙧𝙚 𝙨𝙩𝙖𝙧𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙤𝙪𝙩 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙬𝙞𝙣𝙙𝙤𝙬 𝙖𝙩 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙩𝙧𝙖𝙨𝙝𝙢𝙚𝙣, 𝙬𝙖𝙩𝙘𝙝𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙘𝙖𝙣 𝙡𝙞𝙛𝙩 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙩𝙞𝙡𝙩, 𝙬𝙤𝙣𝙙𝙚𝙧𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙞𝙛 𝙩𝙝𝙖𝙩’𝙨 𝙬𝙝𝙚𝙧𝙚 𝙨𝙝𝙚 𝙗𝙚𝙡𝙤𝙣𝙜𝙚𝙙.”

The more I read, the less I felt like reading, because there was nothing to follow. Do I feel like readingbeautiful, heavy and poignant text right now? Hmmm…. Maybe later. Became the consensus. But when I did read I always came across passages to highlight and though, wooooow that’s so nicely put. I just wish I was draw to the book more because of story and not because I knew it was going to say something amazing outside of any context.⭐⭐⭐

Reese’s book club: The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

I’ve actually attempted this book twice before. The first time I really wanted to love it because it had so much hype! It sounded like the most amazing story. But I coulnd’t stand the writing and the authors disregard to detail. The book was confusing and full of errors, both factual and fictional. I just coulnd’t finish.

Then I read the funniest and most detailed and deconstructed review on goodreads on this book and I wanted to read it again just to be able to enjoy the review even further. But alas, even that didn’t work.

I debated on wether to try a third time now that Reese picked it for March, but I just can’t waste my time on bad books. There’s so many other books I’d rather be reading. Also this book will be a movie soon enough, so I’ll probably just watch that. ⭐

Books that matter: Amazing Grace Adams by Fran Littlewood

I couldn’t find this book anywhere, so I had to forfeit this one. The option I had was to order it from England and the amount of time it takes for shipping just wasn’t worth the wait.

Update: I found it in my local bookstore yesterday, but it’s not tempting me. Not even a little bit. Maybe I’ll circle back if I find that this bookclub is reliable in taste, I don’t know yet.

My favorite March book club read:

The Belletrist pick: What happened to Ruthy Ramirez by Claire Jiménez!

What an absolute feat this debut was! Such a well plottet and spectacular portrait of a family in mourning. I still think about Ruthy sometimes, and I loved that we got to hear her spunky voice through the book.

I’ve seen bad reviews on this one due to the use of bad language, and to that I say: Fuck you. This book is amazing, and the language is spot on!