What I Read Last Month: April
What I Read April I broke up the novels between contemporary and classic, as usual. If you scroll to the bottom, you can see the ones that I would say to definitely read, read if you have time, or skip all together. The reviews are a lot shorter than normal. I had been trying to keep reviews on Goodreads as I went or typing them up here, but that didn't happen this month. I just formatted and wrote "review." I'll just go ahead and blame my busyness with the Summer reading challenge for the short reviews, but the truth is that I am forcing myself to smile as I type to get through the pain. This is my favorite post each month, even though it has lost its popularity. I guess I'll at least be able to look back on it as a reading diary of sorts! Contemporary

Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle

Lady Almina and the Real Downton AbbeyRating: 4/5 Stars

I thoroughly enjoyed learning about life during the time period, as well as the house that inspired Downton Abbey. The fact that there is some Egyptian treasure hunting and the discovery of a very famous tomb didn't hurt the story, either!

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business The Power of Habit Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business

 Rating: 4/5 Stars

The beginning of this book was a little bit slow. I'm not sure if I read the information in another book or watched it in some type of documentary (I've never taken a psychology class), but it wasn't new information. A few of the chapters were more about companies or organizations, but they were still interesting.

I really enjoyed the diagrams. At the beginning of the book, I could see more of how things like "keystone" habits have worked in my life before, rather than how to create them in my own life now. Fortunately, Duhigg included some emails from readers, plus the appendix had helpful information. Overall, the book was super interesting. I don't read many "self help" or non fiction books, but I loved this.

Love in the Time of Cholera

love in the time of cholera

Rating: 4/5 Stars

I'm definitely not one to blush at a novel, but this one definitely centered heavily on the aspects of sex in the relationships between men and women, both married and unmarried. The descriptions weren't graphic, but the writer really explored the implications of relationships where sex was the foundation and where sex wasn't, and how they were different. Not my usual cup of tea.

This novel fulfills a requirement for my 50 "classic" books because it is older than 25 years, but I'm including it in contemporaries.

Everything Changes

everything changes

Rating: 4/5 Stars

This is an earlier Tropper novel. If you like his novels, I highly recommend it. He is great at juxtaposing heart-wrenching, dysfunctional family moments next to some laugh out loud scenes. He strikes a great balance. Also, I've kind of been reading his novels in reverse order that they were written, so I've noticed that he's going more ambiguous with his endings as time goes on. I particularly liked the ending of this novel, not to give too much away.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest

the girl who kicked the hornet's nest

Rating: 4/5 Stars

This was a long one, but I'm glad I finished all three novels. I liked the character development, although I would have liked to see some of the characters change a little bit for the better; however, too much change probably would not have been realistic. The final novel brought the entire story full circle, which I really did not see happening!

The Secret Place

The Secret Place

Rating: 5/5 Stars

I absolutely loved this novel. I had read some more negative reviews, which is why I held off on the long novel. I did listen on audio, though. I started reading the series last summer and read a few and listened to a few. Generally, I loved to listen to the Irish narrators, however, I couldn't wait for this to end from the narration standpoint. Since the novel is about the murder of a high school boy that takes place on the grounds of an all girls boarding school, the detectives interview a ton of teenagers. I'm sure French must have written the dialogue to mimic the way an Irish teenager would talk, but listening to an adult male mimic a teenage girl (mostly girls) for most of the 20 hours was frustrating and probably a poor choice for production. Still, the story was so good that I could get around that.

Plain Truth

Plain Truth

Rating: 4/5 Stars

This was my first Picoult novel. I was interested in it because it involved a mystery. Since I wanted to try one of her novels, I figured that I should chose one that had a plot that seemed like one I might pick no matter who the author was. Again, I listened to this on audio. Big Mistake. I've never really read any fiction with Amish characters, but I've seen a few TV shows. The narration was horribly annoying, and I imagine would have been slightly offensive to any Amish listeners. Hearing the narrator switch back and forth between the brash Pittsburgh lawyer and the overly-meek Amish girl and then her family was distracting. I guess that I just want to hear the story and prefer that the narrators keep their storybook voices for reading their own children to bed.

classics

The American

the american

Rating: 3/5 Stars

This book wasn't a horror novel like Turn of the Screw, but it definitely creeped me out a lot. It's not for everyone; it's especially not for people who are not specific Henry James fans.

The House of Mirth

The House of Mirth

Rating: 4/5 Stars

This novel was much more sad than I anticipated after reading Wharton's The Age of Innocence, which was written later, though. I did love it, though.

The Moonstone

the moonstone

Rating: 4/5 Stars

I liked this novel for what it was. I thought it was an interesting glimpse into the Colonial world that was fascinated by all things "other," to the point that they thought there were magical powers in diamonds, etc. The absolutely terrible detective work, if you could call it that, was funny. I did enjoy that like The Woman in White, this novel was also told in the past tense, but in chronological order, by observers of "the crime." The second observer, though, who was obviously meant to make fun of the evangelical Christians of the day, was a bit over the top and got on my nerves. I almost put the novel down.

Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose

Mystery and Manners Occasional Prose

Rating: 4/5 Stars

If you are a Flannery O'Connor fan (or have to write a paper about anything she's written), I highly recommend this book.

The King's General

the king's general

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

While this novel did rely on some Gothic standards, it was not what I was expecting from du Maurier, after reading Rebecca and My Cousin Rachel. It is not much of a Gothic novel at all. It does tell the story of a little studied English Civil War, while the main character, who is paralyzed, flagrantly thumbs her nose at all social conventions. It is a tense story because you are always wondering if she is on the "right" side.

Sprig Muslin

Sprig Muslin

Rating: 3/5 Stars

Ehhhh. Not a great Heyer novel, like when I compare it to my favorites, but it didn't actually make me angry for creating dumb female characters who were dependent on villainous male characters, either. Just below average.

Mary Anne

mary anne

Rating: 3/5 Stars

I found this du Maurier novel based on her great-great grandmother extremely interesting and a worthwhile read, even though the main character is entirely unsympathetic, in my opinion. Some people might find her determination to survive at all costs sympathetic; however, I think she got greedy. It was an interesting look at the English legal system and the role of women.

There was a particularly humorous and observant quote (I forgot to write it down and can't find it anywhere) at the beginning of the novel made by the "child" version of Mary Anne, who sees men as weak creatures after watching her stepfather and younger brothers, yet realizing that even though they are much weaker than women, they hold the purse strings and run society.

read these

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business

Everything Changes [If you like Tropper novels.]

Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose [If you like O'Connor or Literary Theory/Criticism.]

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest

if you have time

Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle

The Secret Place don't bother smaller

The American

Sprig Muslin

  During May, I'll be reading novels for Megan's Summer Reading Challenge. You can read my picks here. I'll probably be slowed down by a few lengthy and a few more paperbacks than normal, plus I anticipate even more pain this month than last. I tried to pick a few fun ones, but not everything on my list is my dream book. So, we'll just have to see! What I Read You can read my past monthly round ups: March 2015 February 2015 January 2015 December 2014 November 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!

Don't forget that you can add me as a friend on Goodreads so I can steal ideas on what to read next--or see your ratings, so I know what to stay away from!

Will be linking up with The Modern Mrs. Darcy for Quick-Lit!

   
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  • I’m so glad “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest” is on your MUST READ list! I’ve read the first 2 in the series and loved them. Planning to read the third this summer. 🙂

  • I am DEFINITELY going to have to check out the one about the real Downton Abbey! There’s a documentary on Netflix about Highclere, too, which was really interesting. I can’t remember what it was called…it was part of a series though. They were all really interesting.

  • Today, I started reading Tropper’s The Book of Joe. So, of course, Everything Changes is on my to read list as well. I added The Secret Place to my goodreads list too. I like thriller/mysteries set in foreign countries. It adds a little more intrigue for me when I’m learning the culture of the land as well as following the mystery of the story.

  • i hope the pain lets up soon 🙁 I’m sorry!
    A bad narrator can absolutely ruin a book – i hate when adults mimic children or teenagers, it just doesn’t work (most of the time!). I have wanted to read Love in the Time of Cholera for such a long time, glad you enjoyed it! Adding the Jonathan Tropper & the Downton books to my list!

  • I still haven’t gotten around to reading any of Jodi Picoult’s books. I heard she is great, so I found a few at a library sale for $1 each and snagged them. I just have to get around to reading them!

  • I love these posts of yours, because I’m a book nerd, so thank you for hanging in there and writing them despite the pain! I truly hope things start to look up for you soon! I’m putting the Downton Abby book on my to-read list!

  • The House of Mirth was SO sad. I was listening when I filled up some supplements one night, so now any time that I fill up my supplements, I can’t help but think of that book!
    I have friends who have actual bookshelves that have nothing but Picoult novels on them. Like they buy her stuff the day it comes out. I’m glad I got my audiobook from the library. It was an interesting story. I remember the trailers for when they made My Sisters Keeper into a movie and it made me cry so much. I don’t like tear jerkers very much. Some are worth it (Still Alice), but I’ve been looking through her other novels to see if any looked good.
    I hope the recommendations helped! I started the Read it/if you have time/skip it helped. It’s hard because some people love classics or other people love Downtown Abbey, but other people wouldn’t touch either. Or like I love Jonathan Tropper, but my mom would probably die if she read one!

  • I hope you’ll like the Tropper novel! I happened to love the ending the best out of the 4 or so of his that I’ve read so far. His last two were super ambiguous at the end, but he still does a good job at it.

  • They made me read Love The Time Of Cholera in High School. That seems wrong doesn’t it?

  • Anne @ I need some inspiration

    Another inspiring list of reads this month, Sarah! Wow. Have I already asked you this: what Flannery should one start with? I started the Power of Habit and should’ve given myself permission to flip through it more. I remember it being difficult to start as well. Plain Truth is the only Jodi Picoult book I’ve read. I remember liking it okay. Thanks for sharing!

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