What I Read Last Month: March
What I Read March This month, in addition to sharing quick reviews, I thought I would add a quick "Definitely Read This, Skip This, and 'If You Have Time'" list of the best and worst at the bottom. So, read all the way to the bottom! Contemporary

 The Invention of Wings

The Invention of Wings

 Rating: 4/5 Stars

I absolutely loved this book. I can't wait to read some further books about the real women who inspired the main characters of the novel. I had no idea that it was based on a true story when I started reading the novel, but I did know that the author resided in South Carolina!

Under Magnolia: A Southern Memoir

Under Magnolia

 Rating 4/5 Stars

This review is a little longer, but I LOVED this memoir.

I will say that it started off a little bit slow, but as Mayes's life story progressed, or rather, she delved further back into her memories, the book became more interesting. While she grew up in an entirely different era from me, it still resonated with me because I lived in a small Southern town, went to a small Southern college, and where I studied English. Like Mayes, I having a deep sense of place, which is also very prominent in Southern literature, is important in my life. I have a love for the South, yet, like her, I still have to reconcile things that I don't like with the strange sense of belonging I feel.

The memoir had some humorous antidotes about being in the South during a period of great change, attending a women's college, and her thoughts on life, which tempered nicely with the heartbreaking parts of her family life. I think that if there was too much humor or too much heartbreak, the memoir would not have struck such a chord with me.

Finally, wait for the "Coda" at the end. The summary; the epilogue; the final thoughts. They make the entire memoir crystallize and touch your heart - regardless of where you live. They are thoughts on life and the human experience, but specifically Mayes's experiences. This is a memoir that will stay with me, much in the same way that Bastard Out of Carolina (although it is more of a autobiographical novel) will.

[I listened to a version narrated by the author.]

The Book of Joe

the book of joe

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Ugly tears. Loved this. Like all of the Tropper novels that I've read, it's about a dysfunctional family. In this case, it's about a man's dysfunctional family that extended to a dysfunctional relationship with his entire hometown. And family is extended from biological and family by marriage to family that is chosen - friends.

As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride

as you wish

Rating: 4/5 Stars

This is a must-read for any fan of The Princess Bride movie. Also, I know basically nothing about making movies, so it was also interesting from that standpoint. I won't give anything away, but to get you interested: Did you know that Collin Firth was almost Westly?!

[I listened to the audio version, which I think added a lot to the story because the individual actors, directors, etc., read their quotes!]

Still Alice

still alice

Rating: 5/5 Stars

I cried some ugly tears as I read this novel, but it was well worth the read. There are people who suffer with this every single day. I loved that the story was told from the perspective of the woman who developed early onset Alzheimer's. Genova's writing style helped to reinforce just a tiny portion of what it would be like to live in a world of forgetfulness and repetition. It's a heartbreaking story, but ultimately a story of love. I HIGHLY recommend this novel!

[I listened to a version narrated by the author.]

One Plus One

one plus one

Rating: 4/5 Stars

One Plus One is a heartwarming story that shows Moyes amazing talent as a versatile writer. None of her books "feel" the same, but they're all great! I teared up. I laughed. I found myself cheering along. I found myself depressed when the characters were depressed. It was an all around engrossing novel with relatable characters.

Into the Tangle of Friendship : A Memoir of the Things That Matter

into the tangle of friendship

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Loved this. Friendship is something that is so near and dear to my heart. Kephart beautifully addressed so many different angles of friendship. I highly recommend it, especially if friendships are on your mind.

Never Let Me Go

never let me go

Rating: 3/5 Stars

I'm glad I read it, but I wouldn't rush to read it, if I to do it over again. The story was a fairly predictable dystopian/sci-fi novel about medical advancements. Who has a soul? Who doesn't? All the typical ethical questions and a little love story. The end.

As of 3/23/15, the Kindle edition was on sale for $2.99.

The Bookman's Tale: A Novel of Obsession

the bookman's tale

Rating: 4/5 Stars

I read Lovett's second novel first. It was ok. I really preferred this novel to his second novel. Not only did I love the love story that unfolds from the main characters past (I'm not giving anything away!), but the mystery, conspiracy, and sense of danger lurking around the corner was super cool.

Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: The Untold History of English

Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue The Untold History of English

Rating: 2/5 Stars

The title was pretty misleading. If you have no background in the history of the English language you will be utterly lost. I haven't looked at foreign languages in awhile, so I struggled a bit, too. Mostly, it seemed like McWhorter just picked some things he disagreed with from the linguist community at large and wrote a book to refute them, which is his right, but to title it "The Untold History of English," is misleading. He threw in a dirty joke here or there to keep it light, but overall, it isn't a book I'd pick up for fun reading again.

classicsThe Woman in White

The Woman in White

 3/5 Stars

"Crime" novels from the 19th Century are so fascinating. Seriously. No forensics, no problems! I'm glad that I read it, because I can appreciate it for what it was during the time period. The story is told after the "crime," from the point of view of multiple narrators and witnesses, which, honestly, I didn't realize was a technique used so long ago! However, there are a lot more fascinating novels out there.

The Professor

theprofessor

 Rating 3/5 Stars

This novel reminded me a lot of Charlotte Bronte's Villette, although it was told from the male's perspective and had a slightly happier ending.

In Cold Blood

in cold blood

Rating: 5/5 stars

Wow. I loved this story. I love crime novels, but this was a whole new level. Even though it should have felt dated because the crime took place so long ago, it didn't. I loved how Capote interspersed the stories of the killers with the story of the search, which I usually hate. I think I found the story of the lives of killers more interesting because I knew they were real people. I also found the murders more heartbreaking, though, because they were real people. It was also an interesting look at life in the rural midwest during the time period. After reading In Cold Blood, I could recall many instances from more modern novels that were likely very influenced by In Cold Blood. So, if you love crime novels (or even TV shows), this would be great for you!

Cousin Kate

cousin kate

Rating: 3/5 Stars

I can see why this was Heyer's only Gothic novel. It was an interesting mix of Rebecca and The Castle of Ontranto. All the Gothic elements were there, so it would be great for teaching, if you wanted to be like "THIS IS EVERYTHING A GOTHIC NOVEL IS. SHE DIDN'T LEAVE A SINGLE THING OUT."

The Woodlanders

the woodlanders

Rating: 4/5 Stars

As usual, this is a tale of people who marry each other, but figure out that they wish that they were married to other people. Little things from the past, which seemed meaningless at the time, actually set in chain a whole course of actions that ruin people's lives. Sad, depressing, and if they could have just gotten divorces, the novel wouldn't have even needed to be written.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

tinker tailor soldier spy

Rating: 3/5 Stars

This novel was a little confusing. Amazon says that it's the 5th novel of a series. Goodreads says that it's the first of a trilogy. I chose this novel, of course, because it was made into a movie. I was able to understand it more than the average reader, probably, because of my work experience in the intelligence community. If I didn't have prior work experience, I might have been completely lost.

Venetia

venetia

Rating: 4/5 Stars

I'm glad that I took the time to read this one! In typical Heyer fashion, it's about a beautiful woman who considers herself beyond marriageable age, but then forms a close friendship - probably too close for the time period - with a man who is known for being a womanizer. I found this one funny and entertaining.

Charity Girl

charity girl

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Honestly, this novel felt more like a short story. While it was too long for a single sitting, it definitely didn't feel as complex as most novels. The characters were funny, but not many were well developed. I feel like Heyer missed a chance to give more dimensions to the main characters, especially Charity!

The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter

the heart is a lonely hunter

Rating: 4/5

I really enjoyed this novel. Mostly, I picked this up because when I graduated, my professors gave us a list of their favorite novels, and my Southern Lit professor included this. It felt a little bit like an extended O'Connor novel, but different, of course. If you like Southern Literature that takes place in the rural South during the 1930's or so, I would recommend this novel.

 read these

The Invention of Wings

In Cold Blood

One Plus One

Still Alice

if you have time

The Book of Joe

Under Magnolia: A Southern Memoir

don't bother smaller

The Professor

Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: The Untold History of English

What I Read You can read my past monthly round ups: February 2015 January 2015 December 2014 November 2014 October 2014 September 2014 And other archived roundups here!

Also, you can find other individual book reviews, tips on saving money on Audible books, book recommendations based on genres and all things related to literature here!

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  • Wow – such a great list. I absolutely loved the Invention of Wings and found myself staying up at night because I couldn’t stop. I’m going to consider some of your suggestions.

    • I didn’t realize until I finished the Invention of Wings that it was by the same author as The Secret Life of Bees, which I had to read for a Southern Lit class. I enjoyed that one, also. I hope you’ll find something else you like!

  • Kate Mitchell

    Isn’t In Cold Blood incredible? I read it in high school in my junior English class and it has just stood out to me ever since. I’m also a huge crime TV show fan, so that also helped my love of it haha

    • I loved it! Normally, I hate knowing who the “bad guy” is before the story is over because I want to guess, but there was no way to tell that story without it because it was so far out there. And I really loved how Capote portrayed them and the legal system of the day.

  • I can’t wait to read As You Wish!!!

    • You will love it, if you liked the movie!!! It was totally worth the read/listen!

      • The movie is an all time favorite, so I can’t wait!

  • oooh i love the read / if you have time / skip! i laughed at your georgette heyer ‘SHE DIDN’T LEAVE A SINGLE THING OUT’ lol. I can’t believe I haven’t read any others of hers yet, i’m holding out until i forget the grand sophy so i can’t compare, lol. i am reading one plus one right now, the invention of wings, as you wish and still alice are on my list! oh and the book of joe. love your book posts as always 🙂

    • One Plus One was sweet. And the rest of those are all good. Try As You Wish on audio!!!
      Cousin Kate is like every single Gothic novel thing rolled into one. I would teach it just to show all the parts of a Gothic novel. I didn’t include every book in the end part, the If You Have Time books are still good, but not as good as Read These. Skips were terrible. I wasn’t sure if I should categorize everything or not…

  • Oh I have the Invention of Wings on my Kindle right now! I haven’t read it yet but I should start it soon. As You Wish is a book I definitely have to pick up.

    • I loved the Invention of Wings. What I didn’t realize was that it is based on real people! I listened to an interview after the book and she took some liberties, of course, but it was a great read.
      If you are going to listen to any audiobook, I recommend As You Wish as audio because almost all of the cast makes an appearance to tell parts of the movie making process in their own words!

  • I think I’ve said this to you before – I still have The Book of Joe and Still Alice sitting on a bookshelf at home waiting to be read. Must do that.
    I read In Cold Blood years ago. I remember the pace being a little slow? but the story being fantastic.

    • Yeah, now that you say that about the pace, it was slow! I’ll forgive Capote since it was so groundbreaking… hahaha. The Book of Joe was much better than One Last Thing Before I Go, in my opinion, but my favorite of Tropper’s novels (I’ve read these three) so far had been This is Where I Leave You! Still Alice was a gem!

  • I love that you added the little summary at the end of what to read! I bought Invention of Wings a while ago when it was one sale. Still need to read it. I’m not sure I could handle Still Alice, but maybe I need to be brave. I love Johnathan Tropper. I hadn’t even heard of that one! In Cold Blood is one of my favorites! It was one of the first books that I read that made me think, “I would love to write a book one day.”

    • Thanks! I thought that might be helpful. Should I categorize every single book? I thought just the best/worst. Like even the “If You Have Time” books are still good. But the “Skip It”s were bad.
      I’m in love with Tripper. I listened to Sill Alice. It’s really short. You can push through it. It’s worth it. It’s so touching. I think the book that made me love writing was Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried.

  • I really want to watch the movie. I don’t usually like to go back and read the book after the movie, either. Since I haven’t seen the movie, I am not sure… the book was really, really good. You could always get it from the library or something and not risk any money to see if it’s worth the read. The book was amazing.

  • I will always be blown away by how much you read. I love it! I’ve wanted to read Invention of Wings for quiet a while, but it got put on the back burner when I read The Mermaid Chair and was sorely disappointed. It’s going back up to the top! Again… glad you liked Under Magnolia. 🙂

  • I just picked up The Invention of Wings and after reading your review, am excited to read it! I totally agree with your picks for Read These- such good books.

  • Hahaha well, it really did have like every single part of a Gothic novel from what I learned in school. I really liked The Girl You Left Behind (my mom just read it and did too), but One Plus One was SO good, too. One Plus One takes place in modern times, so it was totally different.
    I think you could like In Cold Blood without liking crime shows, if you appreciate if for being the first true crime novel. Normally, for crime shows, which I like, I hate when I know who did it before the show is over because I want to guess, but the novel tells you all about the murderers right from the beginning. I found it fascinating because the murderers really are “characters.” Capote goes into their backgrounds, etc., and it’s fascinating. It’s less about the actual murder, I think, and more about the dynamics between the murderers (Captote probably had to do a ton of interviews). Then, you get a great insight into how investigations were conducted before our current technology. I don’t think it would hurt to try it it!

  • Oh, gosh. I am sure that the film had to be hard to watch (I haven’t seen it). The novel would probably be even harder to read. I listened to the audiobook. It wasn’t super long. I can’t imagine losing someone to it. I did read that the author is a neuroscientist, so she has seen people with the illness, but I’ve a doctor who treats me and is a top researcher in the country – she is the least compassionate person I know. But, like I say about chronic illness, which you point out about Alzheimer’s, you can’t quite understand it unless you have it/are the caregiver/love someone with it.
    Doctors and researchers go home at night. They don’t have the pain or problems 24 hours a day.
    I did see that the author just released a new novel about a family with a family member with Hutington’s Disease. I’m already so sad for so many reasons. I am definitely going to put it off.
    I’m terribly, terribly sorry to read that you had to see your grandparents succumb to Alzheimer’s.

    • Jae

      The onset of one of my grandfather’s Alzheimer’s disease manifested when his wife passed away. We sort of saw it as a blessing in disguise because that way he won’t fall into depression, which may lead to his immediate demise, too.

      My grandfather lived with us for almost two years before he passed away. Of course, it was difficult in the beginning, dealing with an old man with Alzheimer’s disease, but we eventually understood that it’s something he’s not even aware of having. We needed to open our minds (and hearts) to his condition in order to maintain a harmonious, albeit a little complicated, life. We don’t regret taking care of our grandfather before he died because several of our best memories with him are when he lived with us.

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