These are the books I finished in the month of March in which I didn’t have time or words to elaborate on…
Batman: The Killing Joke ***
Two of my favorites team up for a Batman prose novel? Yes! But the end result is just okay. Interestingly enough, I think both writers do a better job with the random Gothamites than they do with the Caped Crusader and his primary nemesis. You’re fine just reading Alan Moore’s legendary graphic novel.
The Big East: Inside the Most Entertaining and Influential Conference in College Basketball History****
A fun, engaging romp through the legendary Big East basketball conference, with a special focus on the 80s. I was an ACC guy growing up but I always gravitated towards the Big East because of my love for North Atlantic cities, as well as my hatred for mid south blue bloods North Carolina and Duke. Dana O’Neil does a great job capturing what made the league special and how it came to be.
In The Country We Love: My Family Divided****
A good, funny, entertaining, sad, poignant memoir of actress Diane Guerrero’s childhood, her rise to fame, and how she made it despite her family being broken by the United States government. I felt so sad for all of the people involved, and yet, happy that she at least “made it” and that she and her family have found some peace.
A nifty tale not just of a family of thieves but also of understanding who your family members are and what they have to do to survive.
One Night, New York****
This beautifully written book is so many things: a LGBTQIA+ romance, an atmospheric dive into 30s NYC, a parable of difficult family relationships, a crime story but at the heart, it’s the story of a young woman taking all of the best and worst New York has to offer and making it her own. Thompson brings that era of Manhattan to life in a cinematic way, which made up for the times the story spun its tires.
The Secret Lives of Married Women****
3 stars for the first story, 4 for the second. I thought the table setting for the first took too long but the payoff was good. The second one was more realized and Eliza Wald brought both together well. I really hope she writes more; her catalog looks a little sparse.
Lost and Found in Harlem****
The mysteries here are interesting enough but what I love about this book is how Delia C. Pitts introduces the many kinds of people that make Harlem a special place.
Beautiful Little Fools ***
Really wanted to like this more than I actually did. There were things I appreciated, namely how the women would all view the men of the book as pigs or gadflies. But, aside from the interesting take on Jordan Baker and other brief moments, it all comes off as uninspiring fan fiction in which the female characters are still too beholden at the cost of autonomy.
Beauty Queens ****
Yellowjackets by way of Josie and the Pussycats stuck in an episode of Lost. Some of the satire is too thick but unlike a lot of satirical works I read, it makes you care about the characters. A lot of fun.
Scandal in Babylon ***
If this was a book by a new author, I probably would’ve given it 4-stars. But Hambly is a vet and I think it’s ok to have a slightly higher expectation for her. She does a great job bringing 20s Hollywood to life and the mystery is decent. But her protagonist’s backstory takes up way too much space. It’s good groundwork if she wants to use the character for a larger series. But as a self-contained book, it weighed down what was otherwise a fun tale.
Perhaps a tad overhyped but very good. The podcast stuff was hit-or-miss but Sadie’s journey was brutally compelling and the two eventually complemented the other. And man, does Courtney Summers stick the landing. I’ll definitely be reading more of her.