What I Read: May


I read a lot less this month than normal, yet, I did read a long one! And I know I always say that I’ve been sick so my numbers are down, but I think I read 9 books. That’s sick when I normally read 20. I didn’t watch TV, either.
what i read may
I spent most of my time this month working on reading or listening to novels for the Summer Reading Challenge. It was a challenge because my 500+ page book was actually 700ish pages. I did enjoy it, although it could have been shorter. I did read a few not in the challenge. Unfortunately, I didn’t finish the whole challenge in less than a month, like the Winter Challenge!

Contemporary

Where All Light Tends to Go

Where All Light Tends to GoI’m really glad that I took a chance on this novel. I did need something with “light” in the title for a reading challenge, but when Audible recommended it, it seemed to be the perfect Southern Lit book for me. I can’t wait to read more from David Joy in the future.
I have to say that the novel seemed all too heartbreakingly realistic. Joy did a great job writing beautifully about the messy side of life in the rural South.

This novel was read to fulfill a Summer Reading Challenge category. [15 points: Read a book with “light” or “dark” in the title. (Or “lightness” or “darkness.”)]

Dear Daughter

Dear Daughter

This book was hysterical! I wasn’t super pleased with the ending – so many questions. Like, if I had been the main character, who had been so clever, I might have done a few things differently, but it was still a really fun read. [Not family friendly, but probably falls somewhere between Young Adult and Adult novels.]

We Were Liars

we were liars

I have heard a lot about this novel. It won a Goodreads award, of course. I haven’t read anything similar like it in a long time, so I did enjoy it. I was a bit (and still confused) why the main character called her friends “The Liars” from the very first, but I’m sure that’s a spoiler. I read the Kindle version fairly quickly. It was short, interesting, and very trendy.

[10 points: Read a book that won a Goodreads “Best Book” award in 2014.]

Don’t Try to Find Me

don't try to find me

Decent coming of age/young adult novel. Don’t buy the publisher’s advertising. Nothing like Gone Girl/Reconstructing Amelia. Not innovative at all. This novel did fulfill a summer reading challenge requirement, which was a plus, since it was an easy read.

[Summer Reading Challenge: 15 points: Read a book by an author who is completely new to you.]

Lady Catherine, the Earl, and the Real Downton Abbey (The Women of the Real Downton Abbey #2)

Lady Catherine, the Earl, and the Real Downton Abbey

I was definitely disappointed in how much it overlapped with the first book in the series. If I could give half stars, it would be 2.5 because it wasn’t terrible, but there wasn’t anything earth shattering in the WWII research, of course, and there wasn’t even much detail on the clothes, manners, or things that I found fascinating in the first book.
Those things were mentioned, but inconsistently. It felt like if the author needed to fill some space, she’d throw it in there, instead of focusing on it.

[Summer Reading Challenge: 5 points: Freebie! Read any book that fits the general rules.]

Yes Please

yes please

Yes, please. Read this novel. SO FUNNY. While I think it was either naive to think her kids will think she’s too boring to read it and read about her drug use, her editors pushed her, her kids’ friends will read it, or she didn’t think she could hide it anyway… I thought it was an hilarious read. But, it will be awkward to find out that your mom wasn’t hung over… she was recovering from drugs… but I am sure life is much, much different for their family.

classics

A Civil Contract

a civil contract

This novel, by an author that I obviously like, was read for the Summer Reading Challenge to fulfill the category for a novel with an animal on the cover. I listened to the version with the horse on it!

[20 points for Summer Reading Challenge: Read a book with an animal on the cover.]

a civil contract animal cover

The Way We Live Now

the way we live now

Sorry, Trollope you could have cut this book by at least 1/4. However, I still liked it.

[25 points for Summer Reading Challenge: Read a book that is longer than 500 pages long.]

Jamacia Inn

jamacia inn

Ehh, this has to be my least favorite du Maurier novel, and I love her novels. It was predictable and kind of cheesy.

[Summer Reading Challenge 20 points: Read a book with the name of a city, state or country in the title.]

read these

Dear Daughterif you like slightly off-color novels that make fun of pop culture with a murder mystery!

Where All Light Tends to GoI can’t promise you won’t tear up.

Yes Please

if you have time

We Were Liars

don't bother smaller

Jamacia Inn – There are many better du Maurier novels!

 

I hope to finish up the Summer Reading Challenge during next month and doing a little more reading!

What I Read

You can read my past monthly round ups:

April 2015
March 2015

February 2015

January 2015

December 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!

Did you read anything good last month? Are you participating in any challenges? What should I be reading? 🙂

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

 

Please note that comments with links that are not relevant to the discussion will not be approved. Personal signatures with blog URLs will be deleted. Please use the Disqus profile to add your blog’s URL, so that I can find you.

Categories: What I Read Last Month
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!

 

 

Please note that comments with links that are not relevant to the discussion will not be approved. Personal signatures with blog URLs will be deleted. Please use the Disqus profile to add your blog’s URL, so that I can find you.

Categories: What I Read Last Month Tags: , ,
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!

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!

This post contains Amazon Affiliate links that helps defray the cost of running the blog.

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

 

Please note that comments with links that are not relevant to the discussion will not be approved. Personal signatures with blog URLs will be deleted. Please use the Disqus profile to add your blog’s URL, so that I can find you.

Categories: What I Read Last Month Tags: , ,
What I Read Last Month: February


Here’s what I read last month! Again, I am working on reading classics for my two classics challenges (here and here), my TBR pile challenge, plus since I’m working on more personal essays, I’ve been reading anthologies of personal essays and creative nonficton. Those are kind of dense and slowing down my total number of novels, of course!

What I Read Last Month: February

 

I was kind of disappointed in myself this month. I normally read about 20 books a month. I always try to outread myself. It’s silly, but it’s just the way I work. I can’t even say that I finished a season of The Good Wife or anything. In fact, I don’t think I watched a single episode. I was so terribly sick that I couldn’t do more than read and reread the same sentences over and over. I couldn’t follow along with audiobooks. As I went through my Goodreads account, I saw that I went an entire week without finishing a book. That’s not normal for me.

I will admit that many of these novels are on the shorter side. I padded the numbers. And I admit it. I already owned them and meant to read them. I just read them all at the end of February haha.

 

Contemporary

King and Maxwell

king and maxwell

Rating: ***

I finally finished all of the King and Maxwell Series. I don’t regret reading all of them, but, they are no works of greatness. Again, the production of the audio version made me feel embarrassed for Baldacci. I got used to having two narrators, but the music was terrible.
However, I’m getting a little tired of all of these revenge conspiracy theories. I keep reading and waiting for King and Maxwell to just get together. Get together already.

Careless People: Murder, Mayhem, and the Invention of The Great Gatsby

careless people

Rating: ****

I wanted to read this during Jazz Age January, but I didn’t have time. So, I started it at the beginning of February. It was so interesting because it discusses the Fitzgeralds, who I find fascinating, but it also gives tons of context. I haven’t read many non-fiction books that talk about how murders were investigated during the 1920’s, how bootlegging worked, and what life was like for people in the 1920’s. Churchwell does a great job of writing about the era and relating it to how it relates to the book The Great Gatsby. I highly recommend this for anyone who is fascinated by the era!
One of the really cool chapters was where Churchwell lists all of the new words or phrases that were created and coined during the jazz age. The list is fascinating and illuminates a lot about the time period. Churchwell also includes contemporary literary criticism about Fitgerald’s work, which is more fascinating than the current criticism.

 The Lover’s Dictionary

the lovers dictionary

Rating: ****

I loved the unique way this story was told. The story, which is not told chronologically, was a short, but interesting read. I had a little bit of hard time telling which definition was being told from whose point of view, but I think some were meant to be ambiguous. I could be wrong. It was definitely worth the read. I won’t ruin it for you!

Joyland

joyland

Rating: ****

This was my first Stephen King novel. I’ve watched a ton of movies and mini-series inspired by his novels over the years, but I don’t think I ever appreciated his writing until now. Even though this was a fairly short book, it was easy to tell what a master of story telling King is because he made me laugh, cry, and get a little scared, all in one short book. I can’t wait to read more of his novels.

Moral Disorder

moral disorder

Rating: ***

I liked the short stories and the ways that they weaved together, yet I just didn’t love it the way I’ve loved other Atwood novels.

Only Time Will Tell (Clifton Chronicles Book 1)

only time will tell

Rating: 2.5

Oh dear. I read this one at the recommendation of my mother, who has read every Archer book ever. I am no longer taking her recommendations. Only Time Will Tell feels like a poor man’s Fall of Giants by Ken Follett, except Archer intends to drag this one out to the bitter end. Like the King & Maxwell series that I always read against my better judgement, this ends on a cliff-hanger, so you will go back for more. I will, just because I occasionally enjoy a mindless audiobook while I lay in bed/drift off to sleep. But, I could walk away and never think about this series again.

If you are interested in reading this series, the Kindle version is on sale at the time of writing for $3. I’m guessing this is because the newest book in the series is being released soon!

One Last Thing Before I Go

one last thing before i go

Rating: ****

I read my first Tropper novel last month. I couldn’t wait to read more! And ok, I’ll admit that I kind of teared up at the end. The novel is a moving examination of a dysfunctional family, which after reading This is Where I Leave You by Tropper, it seems like he might specialize in. At first, I definitely did not like the main character, but he grew on me the more I understood him.
Again, I like the kind of ambiguous endings that Tropper employs because I’m so used to tidy ones. I’m definitely not putting this particular novel in my favorite novels, but I am going to be reading even more Tropper novels.

The Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Relationship: How to Support Your Partner and Keep Your Relationship Healthy

ptsd

Rating: Unknown- It depends on what you need

I checked this book out of the library to better understand what my family is going through. I am not a counselor/have no training, so I have no idea how valid the points in the book are, but a lot of it rang true for me.
I could see myself in the description of the patients, and I could definitely see the self destructive cycle that England calls “Victim-Rescuer-Persecutor” triangle. The book, which is fairly recent, provides website resources for counseling, group therapy, and other important resources. There are also very practical tips for family members who are trying to show someone with PTSD that they need help.
I do think that the book is mostly aimed at PTSD patients who are veterans, but is suited as for families for patients who were victims of a crime.

The Writing Life

the writing life

Rating: ****

This novel was extremely interesting. I prefer to write essays and haven’t caught the book writing bug, though Dillard makes an argument for one long book, rather than lots of smaller essays. However, her tortured artist passages scared me away from attempting anything longer than several thousand words.
I loved Dillard’s look at art as everything from painting to airshow flying. Mostly, I love her style, the details she includes, and they way she weaves something that seems unimportant into a main theme, later in the writing.

Astonish Me

astonish me

Rating: ****

I loved this novel. It had twists, turns, love, broken love, dance, hopes, dreams, and losing everything. This novel was not neat. It was not tidy. It was beautiful.

First Impressions: A Novel of Old Books, Unexpected Love, and Jane Austen

first impressions

Rating: ***

While I wouldn’t say that this novel is based on any Austen plots, I do think that it’s obvious from the start (and Lovett says in interviews) that the main character has her own Darcy and Wickham-esque to deal with. I thought that I noticed this as I read the novel, but wasn’t sure. After I read the novel, I did a quick internet search!

 

classics

 

Wessex Tales

wessex tales

Rating: ***

Some of these stories were insanely creepy. I can see why they are included in anthologies with Poe. I also think this was my last Hardy novel (well, short stories) to read!

The End of the Affair

the end of the affair

Rating: ***

This was an interesting novella. I can appreciate it for what it is, but it is not at the top of my recommendation list.
I honestly enjoyed the novella a little bit more in hindsight when I looked up some more information about the author and criticism of the novella. Putting it in context would have made the novella more entertaining, but I was afraid of spoiling the book!
It didn’t hurt that I listened to the audio version read by Collin Firth… 🙂

The House in Paris

the house in paris

Rating: ***

It took me a while to get through this book. The prose was very thick, so to speak. There were beautiful details and insight into human nature, but the French characters who spoke broken English made it harder to understand the middle part. I am glad I read the book, but I would not recommend that anyone rush to read it immediately.

The Convenient Marriage

the convienent marriage

Rating: **

Just not funny. I prefer Heyer’s funny novels. All these villains and “silly” women kind of rub me the wrong way.

Listened:

New category! I finally listened to all of the Serial Podcast. My husband and I listened to it together, which was really fun. He’s definitely not a reader, but listening was good. And I have a law enforcement background, so I had fun being like “well, what about…?” and then the lawyer/DC detective/journalist would bring the same thing up.

thisAmericanLife1

What I Read

You can read my past monthly round ups:

January 2015
December 2014

November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 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!

This post contains Amazon Affiliate links that helps defray the cost of running the blog.

Linking up with The Modern Mrs. Darcy for Quick-Lit!

 

Please note that comments with links that are not relevant to the discussion will not be approved. Personal signatures with blog URLs will be deleted. Please use the Disqus profile to add your blog’s URL, so that I can find you.

Categories: What I Read Last Month Tags: , ,
What I Read Last Month: January

what i read last month

I definitely didn’t read as much as usual last month. I meant to read a lot more, but I actually went almost two weeks without finishing a book. I think I volunteered for way too many books to review, so the pressure got to me, so I just didn’t read anything. And I discovered The Good Wife.

Contemporary

Dept. of Speculation

book recommendations dept of speculation
Rating: ****

I don’t want to give anything about the plot away, so I’ll just say that it is beautifully written. The third person narrative that is sprinkled with poetry, scientific facts, and all other sorts of prose is unique and makes for a great story. The story tugged at my heart. It’s amazing that I could be emotionally invested in the emotions of a character only called “the wife.”

The Grief Recovery Handbook, 20th Anniversary Expanded Edition

book recommendations grief recovery

Rating:****

I read a review of this book on The Modern Mrs. Darcy blog. I have been dealing with the loss of my health for a long time, but I never thought of it in terms of grieving. I’m not a counselor or psychologist, so I don’t know if this book is completely accurate or for everyone, but the first 5 chapters were extremely helpful for me. The workbook portion seemed more appropriate for death, divorce, or even grieving for cumulative losses caused by childhood and other circumstances–basically things that have to do with relationships. While the addendum at the end of the book says that the exercises can be done about your relationship with your health, it’s almost too complicated for me (they want a timeline, discussions, etc.)

The first 5 chapters or so, though, are applicable to anyone going through a hard emotional time because everything from depression to anxiety seems to be related to unmet expectations (for whatever reason) and it is important to grieve and process the lost dreams that come from losing your health, job, friends, or anything. Not the perfect book for Chronic Illness, but helpful and I will probably reread the beginning from time to time.

Dark Places

dark places

 

Rating: ***

I really enjoyed this novel. It was a fascinating read, plus it was nice to see how Gillian Flynn evolved as a writer between Dark Places and Gone Girl. You can read all of my thoughts from a book club link up here!

This novel fulfills one of my 2015 TBR Reading Challenge requirements.

Lizzy & Jane

lizzy and jane

Rating: ****

I loved this novel. You can read my full review here!

The Girl on the Train

books like gone girl

Rating: 2.5

I was really looking forward to this novel because it was promoted as a multi-view narrated novel in the vein of Gone Girl. The ending was not what I expected, which saved this book from being a zero. It was interesting enough to keep reading it to find out what happened, but it was by no means a book that I would rush to recommend.

Girl, Interrupted

girl interrupted

Rating: ****

I ended up loving this novel. At first, the anecdotes at the beginning were amusing, funny, or sad, but not quite good enough to make me read it quickly; however, I got to the second half of the novel and stayed up late reading! That’s when it all comes together and Kaysen really pulls no punches when talking about her views on her diagnosis.

P.S. This is currently on sale for $3 on Kindle! I paid more for a used copy awhile back!

This novel fulfills one of my 2015 TBR Reading Challenge requirements.

This Is Where I Leave You

this is where i leave you

 

Rating: ****

I loved this novel. The first half felt like it was filled with a little fluff–sex/pseudo-sex scenes that were kind of unnecessary. However, I couldn’t put the last half down. The novel is more character driven than plot driven, which made it a fascinating look at the inner mind of the main character and his family’s dynamics. I watched the movie the day after I finished the novel. While the movie was still good, I definitely preferred the novel, where I got a much better look into the main character’s mind. I will say that the all-star cast of the movie, though, made it a great watch, just to see the actors working together!

classics

Cranford

book recommendations cranford

Rating: ****

This short(er) novel from Gaskell was much more fun and lighthearted than North and South, the only other novel that she wrote that I have read. I enjoyed the fist person narrative about the “quiet” country town that was anything but quiet. It was full of quirky characters who had a touching dedication to helping their neighbors–no matter how silly the circumstance might be.

The Beautiful and Damned

book recommendations the beautiful and damned

Rating: ***

I really wish that I had read this before I read a biography of the Fitzgeralds’ since it is semi-autobiographical. It was a little predictable because of that. I also wish that I had read This Side of Paradise first, since it was Fitzgerald’s breakout novel.

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

book recommendations lady chatterley's lover
This novel was very interesting because I read it immediately following The Beautiful and Damned. The novel takes place during the Jazz Age, also, but it takes place in the UK. It dealt a lot with social classes, like The Beautiful and Damned, but it referred to World War I and the class changes a lot more than Fitzgerald. Money was discussed at length in both novels. Lady Chatterley’s Lover is much more explicit with sex than The Beautiful and Damned, which danced around the topic much more. Honestly, I was completely shocked that this novel was published in the 1920’s, due to the explicit nature of some of the scenes and language. Lady Chatterley’s Lover does mention jazz, dancing, and bobbed hair in passing, but it more about what love, sex, and intimacy means to men and to women. Lawrence wrestles with the three (love, sex, and intimacy) to see where and if they overlap with each other, plus how men and women might view them differently! Women and aristocratic women, specifically, are held to a different standard in Lady Chatterley’s Lover, as opposed to The Beautiful and Damned, where the men seem to be falling over themselves to make the American women happy.

This novel fulfills one of my 2015 TBR Reading Challenge requirements.

Madame Bovary

Madam Bovary

Rating: ***

I didn’t love this, but I didn’t hate it. It’s not on my list of books to recommend to anyone, anytime soon. Honestly, I didn’t find Madame Bovary very sympathetic. I know the point that the author was trying to make, but it got lost among the tedious whining and immorality of Emma (Madame Bovary). I know that social conventions were different when the novel was written and where it was written, but that doesn’t change the fact that the main character was written in such a way that I really wanted her to be unhappy.

The Talented Mr. Ripley

the talented mr ripley

While I enjoyed the novel, I hated the fact that the novel ended on a cliff hanger! You have to read the entire series to get the whole story! I couldn’t bear 3 more novels of reading the tedious thoughts of the main character. He’s actually kind of boring for a murderer.

This novel fulfills one of my 2015 TBR Reading Challenge requirements.

This Side of Paradise

this side of paradise

Rating: ***

I wanted to read this novel because it was the novel that gave Fitzgerald his start. Again, not my favorite book, but I can appreciate it for what it was, a portrait of the “lost generation.”

The Sound and the Fury

the sound and fury

Rating: **

Ok, I love Faulkner. Sanctuary and Absolom, Absolom are two of my favorite novels ever. This one, however, I just couldn’t get into it. Maybe I’ll try it again some day!

This novel fulfills one of my 2015 TBR Reading Challenge requirements.

Adam Bede

adam bede

Rating: ***

I did enjoy this novel, however it was not Middlemarch. It wasn’t close. It felt like an early Thomas Hardy novel. The rural setting, unrequited love, odd/far-fetched situations, and may an attempt to make commentary on social mores and hypocrisy left me feeling like I really did just read something along the lines of The Mayor of Casterbridge (minus the the whole wife selling thing…).

I definitely enjoyed it, but I guess I was looking for something either along the lines of Middlemarch or something more original than an early Hardy novel with a slightly happier (only slightly) ending. So, if you DO want more Hardy novels, read this.

I Capture the Castle

IMG_5694 (1)

This novel was a reread for me! You can read all of my thoughts from a book club link up here! (Josie enjoyed it, too!)

Couldn’t Finish

This is a new category for me. I had to quit a book about half-way through this month.

Call Me Zelda

call me zelda

This novel was marketed as a fictionalized account of Zelda Fitzgerald’s life after she was institutionalized.  The story is told from the point of view of a nurse who is taking care of her. The nurse’s story was distracting, but what was worse was the fact that there was no new information. Because I had read other novels about Zelda Fitzgerald, I knew the general gist of her life. Most of those books, though, end once she is sent to the psychiatric hospital. Instead of this novel telling me about what it was like for her there, the emphasis was on Zelda rehashing her past, as she worked on her autobiographically based novel, Save Me a Waltz. At the half-way point, I decided that it wasn’t worth my time.

Living Well, Spending Less

living well spending less

Literally, not figuratively, the worst book I’ve ever tried to read. Full review on the first half of this drivel here.

What I Read

You can read my past monthly round ups:

December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 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!

This post contains Amazon affiliate links. Titles linked to Goodreads are available for little to no cost on Amazon. Get reading!

Please note that comments with links that are not relevant to the discussion will not be approved. Personal signatures with blog URLs will be deleted. Please use the Disqus profile to add your blog’s URL, so that I can find you.

Categories: Reading, What I Read Last Month Tags: , , ,
What I Read: December Edition


what i read christmas

 

I slowed down a little during December, thanks to the holidays, my health, and all that fun stuff. I enjoy sharing these short (sometimes long) reviews with you, so you might get a good book recommendation. I am still playing around with the format, to make the list easier to navigate. Would you like my top book recommendations at the top? Or mixed in, so you can give every book a fair chance?

I am separating the contemporary reads from the Classics, as I work my way though my 50 Classic Books Challenge.

Contemporary Reads:

Simple Genius

book recommendations: simple genius

Rating: ***

Definitely not my favorite book. I read this book because I really did love the first novel in the series and the second novel was good. I read that this novel was the worst of the series, but in order to make sense of the series, I had to read this. I mean, it wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good. I got a deeper look into the mind of Maxwell, the female investigator. It gave her more depth than just a former Secret Service Agent, but it was rather implausable, plot-wise. This novel, just like the next novel in the series, was about an investigation of murders, but it was buried very deeply into the “intelligence community.” So, for people who are unfamiliar with the inner-workings of the IC might find it hard to understand.

Winter of the World

book recommendations: winter of the world ken follett

Rating: ****

I loved this novel, but not as much as the first of the trilogy. The first part of the trilogy had more character development. This novel follows all of the children of the main characters of the first novel. It was interesting how their children still managed to intertwine during WWII, in the same way that their parents intertwined during WWI. Unfortunately, the character development was not as strong because there was so much plot to stuff into the novel, which was already very long.

The Silent Wife

the silent wife

Rating: ****

This book was a really fun read. It was an interesting look at a very strange union. The wife rationalizes and denies absolutely everything, while her husband cheats like nobody’s business. Since the main character, the wife, is a psychoanalyst (or psychologist–something like that), she thinks about her own life expectations and motives in a way that is very foreign to my own thinking. It was fun to get into the main character’s head.

The Girls at the Kingfisher Club

jazz age january: the girls at the kingfisher club

Rating: **

Ok, so I picked this one based on the cover. It is set during the prohibition-era, which I think is a fun time period to read about. However, this novel did not live up to the cool cover. It was far fetched and odd. I’m not giving up, so I’m participating in Jazz Age January in order to read some more books set or written during the Jazz Age or about the Jazz Age.

The Truth About Alice

book recommendations: the truth about alice

Rating: ***

This YA read was quick and fun. It definitely deals with dark subjects, but the twists and story were engrossing. I couldn’t put it down.

Dollbaby

dollbaby

Rating: ****

I enjoyed this novel, too. I like novels, movies, and books set in New Orleans because it definitely seems like its own world. This novel is set during the 1970’s and the main character’s grandmother, who has progressive ideas, carefully kept secrets, and a huge heart, was a great character, who really kept the novel lively.

The Rosie Project

the rosie project

Rating: *****

Kicking myself for not reading this sooner. I’ve had a copy of it for months, but I just didn’t read it. Oh my gosh. I could not stop laughing out loud. I couldn’t put it down. I loved, loved, loved it. It’s smart AND fun.

The Rosie Effect

the rosie effect

Rating: *****

You can read my full review here before you go read BOTH novels in this series.

Longbourn

longbourne

Rating: *

Don’t read this. I read a negative review from another Goodreads friend, but I read it anyway. I have never read a Pride and Prejudice spin off, so I thought that it was a neat idea to read about the servants. I wanted it to be Downtown Abbey meets Pride and Prejudice, like it is marketed as, but it wasn’t. Then another friend read it and hated it just as much. If you want to preserve your love of the wonderful Mr. Bennett, I will repeat, do not read. This re-imagining of the characters were boring and horrible for a real fan.

Station Eleven

station eleven

Rating: ****

I really loved this novel. I didn’t think that I would. I mean, I knew that it was award winning, but the post-apocalyptic type novels usually aren’t up my alley. However, it felt so realistic. Like, if a killer flu really did hit, I could see this happening. And the importance of maintaining the arts, while being bombarded by murderers, people who are trying to survive, and the people who were born after the flu was very thought provoking.

First Family

first_family

Rating: ***

Ugh. Baldacci, you killed me here. First of all, I hate when I know who the bad guy is. Well, at least who part of the bad guys are. It’s like when Criminal Minds lets me know who the unsub is. Not cool. I want to guess. I enjoyed the first two novels because I was guessing at who the bad guys were. While there were still surprise “bad guys,” it wasn’t like there were any clues. Also, not cool.

And let’s talk about audio production. I had to laugh SO hard during this novel. Whoever decided to add music was probably on drugs. Like, the novel before had transition music. That’s one thing. What’s not cool? Music to emphasize tense scenes, sound effects of gun shots, and just way too much mood music. Just. Read. The. Book. If I was Baldacci, I would be horribly embarrassed.

The Sixth Man

sixth man

Rating: ***

Ok, I know that I’ve been complaining about this series, but I can’t stop. The relationship between King and Maxwell is very interesting. It finally came to the most interesting kind of scene, if you know what I mean, at the end of First Family, so of course I fell for it and read the next novel. Again, this novel really explored the depths of the intelligence community and government contractors. If you haven’t worked inside the belt-loop (I actually used to live inside of the belt-loop– I-495 actually wrapped around the side of the back of my condo complex) it would probably be even harder to follow than it already was. Obviously, it was a little bit hyperbolic with the homicidal tendencies of government contractors, the business is probably pretty cut throat. But, all of the murders are somehow connected to a specific intelligence project and corruption high up the chain.

I also listened to the audiobook of this. While the producer really eased up on the music (yay!) the addition of a female narrator was so annoying. One reader read all of the prose and the dialogue of all of the characters except for Maxwell. He read in the same voice for absolutely everything. No differentiation, which is probably for the best because there were a lot of characters. The rest of the book was ruined by a woman reading Maxwell’s dialogue in a horrible Southern accent. While I always knew that the character was from Tennessee, I would not have insulted her with that accent in my head.

Veronica Mars: Mr. Kiss and Tell

mr kiss and tell

 Rating: ************

You can read my full review of this novel here, before you pick it up on January 20th! Because you REALLY need to read this, if you love Veronica Mars. I wish I knew when the next one is coming out! I highly recommend this one!

 

Classic Book Recommendations & Reads:

Lady Audley’s Secret

lady audley's secretRating: ****

This classic book was fascinating. The story was good, but the best part was that it was crime novel with cut-throat woman who will do anything to get what she wants (which is a foil to her angelic look) that was written and published in the mid-1800’s. I just don’t ever think of that type of literature being written and published at that time because it challenges a lot of proper stereotypes!

These Old Shades

these old shades

Rating: ***.5

Not my favorite Heyer novel because it wasn’t very funny. It was a good story that is actually part of a trilogy of novels.

Katherine

katherine

Rating: *****

Yes. Finally a romantic historical novel that is not raunchy. Also, I’m sick to death about reading about King Henry VIII and all of his mistresses. This novel is about Katherine and her lover, who is a more minor member of the royal family, although he has aspirations to rise higher, through a marriage to another woman. I do find their attitudes towards marriage and relationships fascinating because they are very different from the accepted views of today. While, in practice, a lot of people probably live like this, it was more culturally acceptable for married men to have multiple families and treat the “legitimate” and “illegitimate” children almost equally. Anyway, I found Katherine a fascinating character. My friend, Kate, is named after the main character of this novel. I had to laugh because her mom named her after the girl on the side 😉 But, it really was a very well researched love story.

A Kiss Before Dying

a kiss before dying

Rating: ****

This was a great novel! On one hand, it seemed far fetched, but on the other hand, it seemed plausible, because people are c-r-a-z-y. The novel was also interesting because of the way that Levin incorporated a twist, but instead of waiting until the end of the novel, he lets you in on what’s really going on about 1/3 of the way into the novel. That way, you feel like a co-conspirator with the narrator.

The Awakening

the awakening

Rating: ****

This is the first novel from my list of 50 Classic books that I read! It was a short, but good one that I had always meant to read, but never did.

Daisy Miller

DaisyMiller

Rating: ***

This novella by Henry James was fun look at cultural expectations placed upon women, which A Portrait of a Lady, which I read earlier in 2014, explored more in depth. (This novel was also read as part of my 50 books)

Little Men

little men

Rating: ***

I’m sorry. I can’t not compare this to Little Women. It’s like half as good, so 3 stars was a generous rating.

If you like good books:

Don’t forget to check out the Blogger 2 Blogger Book Club that I am Co-Hosting this month. We’re reading my ALL TIME FAVORITE NOVEL! I Capture the Castle
.

i capture the castle

You cannot read this book and not love it. I’m fairly certain that is a fact. Link up your thoughts on the book at the end of this month!

What I Read

You can check out more of my monthly reading roundups here!

Also, here are some links to reading challenges that I’m participating in during 2015, so if you are looking to get started, now it the time!

A challenge that you can start anytime, if you like classic books, is right here!

Feel free to add me on Goodreads, so I can get ideas of books to read from you… I mean… yeah, let’s be friends.

Linking up with The Modern Mrs. Darcy for Quick Lit today!

This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Please note that comments with links that are not relevant to the discussion will not be approved. Personal signatures with blog URLs will be deleted. Please use the Disqus profile to add your blog’s URL, so that I can find you.

Categories: Reading, What I Read Last Month
What I Read: November Edition

If you’ve been following along, I finished my Winter Reading Challenge. Additionally, I read a lot more books. If you wonder how I read so much, check out my tips for how I read so much! I hate to say that I actually chose TV over reading towards the ends of the month, which did cut down on how many books I read; however, I have started listening to audiobooks in the car, so that helps!

what i read last month october

 

beautiful ruins

Rating: ****

I read Beautiful Ruins as part of the Blogger to Blogger Book Club. You can read my full review here!

 

big little lies

Rating: *****

I waited on this book to come in from the library for months. It was very interesting. I always enjoy books by Moriarty because they make me glad that I don’t have kids or have to deal with a PTA. I overhear women at the gym reading each other snarky emails that other PTA moms have sent them and it just sounds horrible.

 

 

breakfast of championsRating: ***

I only read this as part of The Winter Reading Challenge because I needed a book with a meal in the title. Otherwise, it was kind of boring.

 

east of edenRating: *****

Wow. I loved this. Not only did it clear one book off of my full shelves, it was an amazing book.


fall of giantsRating: *****

My mom has been recommending this book to me for about a year. I read the first book of another trilogy that Follett wrote, which was just ok. This one was amazing. I loved that it took place right before, during, and after WWI. So, not only is the history fascinating, the way that the families from all sides of the war and from different social classes are woven together is fantastic! I highly recommend this book, if you don’t mind a long read!

 

fredericaRating: ****

This was more of a 3.5. I love Georgette Heyer, but I think that if I read too many of her books in a row, they start to blend together. I absolutely loved the first two books of her’s that I read, but I think that they get very predictable. My next Heyer book will be Cousin Kate because I read that it was Heyer’s only attempt at a Gothic novel. And I love Gothic novels!

gileadRating: *****

Again. Wow. I can’t believe that I kept putting this book off!

mr. penumbra's 24 hour bookstoreRating: ****

Such a fun read! Not a brilliant work of genius, but it was definitely fun.

one more thingRating: *****

Do yourself a favor and read this now. You should probably get the audiobook. I know that I love them, but B.J. Novak narrates this book with the help of an all star cast. It’s not family friendly, so don’t listen with the kids around. I could not stop laughing!

 

still life with breadcrumbsRating: ****

Not my favorite book ever, but I really did enjoy this. It felt like Quindlen was trying to get at some deeper points about domestic life, but the novel wasn’t quite long enough to really dive into the subjects that she hinted at. But, it was an interesting story!

the blind assasianRating: *****

I have owned this book for years, so I finally read it. It fits in a little bit with the sci-fi category, which threw me off. The novel switches back and forth between the past and present of the narrator, plus a fictional story that takes place on a foreign planet. The “novel” within the novel threw me off at first, but it really did fit with the novel. I loved it at the end. It turns out that I keep feeling that way about Atwood’s novels!

the burning roomRating: ***

I always enjoy Michael Connelly novels. They’re my guilty pleasure, I guess. This one wasn’t as bad as some recent John Grisham novels (note: please read B.J. Novak’s short story about John Grisham. So funny!), but it was not quite a Lincoln Lawyer quality novel. It kind of sloppily threw two unrelated cases into one investigation, which made it harder to follow.

 

the girl you left behindRating: ****

I read this novel for the Winter Reading Challenge. I absolutely loved it. I loved Moyes’s Me Before You, and I loved this book. I think it is great when an author can write fantastic novels that are nothing alike. That’s real talent!

 

the water is wideRating: *****

I loved this novel. I first heard of this novel in high school, when I took Teacher Cadet. We watched an excerpt from the movie. When I got to college, my academic adviser said that he read this novel in undergrad, which made him want to become a teacher. I am glad that he read the novel because he was a great professor and even SC Professor of the Year. He’s the best!

 

Thirteen at Dinner

thirteen at dinner

Rating: ***/.5

This book was part of the Winter Reading Challenge. I needed to have a book with a meal in the title. This was a lighthearted mystery, but it actually had a ton of murders. It was oddly light for how many people were killed.

 

everythig i never told youRating: ****

I received this free Audiobook through Goodreads. It had been on my list for awhile, so I’m glad that I read it. It is less about how Lydia died and more about all the circumstances and family history that led to her death. (Not a spoiler). I would recommend it!

 

liar temptress soldier spyRating: ****

I did decide to read this one partly based on the title and the cover. I know, I judged a book by its cover. In this case, I judged correctly! I love Civil War history. It was very interesting to read how women contributed as spies on both sides of the war. It was just a whole new part of history that was new to me, so I would also recommend it!

the good girlRating: ****

Again, I really enjoyed this novel! I did read it because it was advertised to be a thriller along the lines of Gone Girl. While definitely not of Gone Girl caliber, it was really interesting. I listened to the audio version of this, which was cool, because each chapter is told out of order. The chapter begins with the name of who is narrating (either the victim’s mother, kidnapper, or detective). The audio version has a different person reading each character, so that added to the novel!

the girl who played with fireRating: *****

I absolutely loved this follow up to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I read the first novel as part of the Winter Reading Challenge, and it drew me in so much that I had to read the follow up. The last novel is on hold at the library right now! I can’t wait for it to come in.

 

the secret keeper
Rating: ****

This was the second Kate Morton novel that I read. I thought it was only ok, until I got to the end. Holy twist. I loved it. I am curious to read more of her books because the only two that I have read involve people researching the pasts of their families. While it is in an interesting concept, I would like to know if Morton has a wider range in her writing.

 

bel canto
Rating: ****

I didn’t like the beginning of this book at all. That’s why I put it down several times. However, once it got going it was a really interesting look at terrorism, art, humanity, and love. I know a lot of people hate the ending, but I thought that is what made it realistic!

While you’re here, take a second to add me as a Goodreads friend.

I love to see what you’re reading/wanting to read! I’m always looking for ideas!

What I read:

July
August
September
October

I am also linking this post to Operation Read Your Shelves because I read FOUR old books!operation read your shelves december

34 Magnolia Street

Also linking up with The Modern Mrs. Darcy for this list!

Categories: Reading, What I Read Last Month
What I Read Last Month: October

So, I read a lot last month. There were a few more that I wanted to read instead, but instead I am waiting until today (as I write on November 1), because I am really excited for the Winter Reading Challenge. It’s not to late to get started, so take a look at the categories!

what i read last month october

 

Agnes GreyRating: ****

I decided to read Agnes Grey because I don’t think I’ve ever read an Anne Bronte novel. I read that it was based on Anne’s own experiences as a governess. It wasn’t super original, but it was a great book. The only issue that I had with the novel was that certain passages were in French, since the novel takes place in France. I kind of had to guess what was going on based on context.

all the light we cannot see

Rating: ****

I absolutely loved this book. It was a beautiful portrait of how two different children from each side of WWII deal with the war. Their stories weave together in a way that actually made me tear up at the end.

arrabella

Rating: ****

This was my second book by Georgette Heyer. I thought is was absolutely hysterical. I have totally fallen in love with Heyer’s novel, which is awesome because she wrote a ton of them. They’re like Jane Austen novels with a little bit more levity.

before i go to sleepRating: ****

I picked up this book on a whim. I saw the trailer for the movie with Collin Firth and Nicole Kidman, which sparked my interest. It was a “page turner,” that I could not put down. I absolutely had to know what was going on, who the main character could and couldn’t trust, and what really happened. It wasn’t the most innovative book ever, but it was definitely a psychological thriller.

Broken HarbourRating: ****

I loved this novel. Again, I couldn’t put it down, because I just couldn’t figure it out. The ending did make sense, but I couldn’t figure out who the killer was until the very end when it was revealed.

can you forgive herRating: ****

I like this book, too. It was longer than it probably needed to be, but I liked it. It follows three different women and their decisions about who to marry.

Kane & Able

Rating: ****

I really liked this novel. The ending felt a little fast, but it was a cool interpretation of the story of Cain and Able, who are not actually blood related in this case. It is the first in a series, but I am not sure if I will keep reading. My mom is the one who suggested trying some Archer books.

north and south

Rating: ***

I liked this book at certain parts, but not at other parts. It seemed to wrap up too quickly, but I later read that the novel was written in installments, so the author ran out of time, which explains the ending.

The Grand Sophy

Rating: *****

This is the first Georgette Heyer novel that I read. I was laughing out loud at this novel. It was so entertaining! I love period pieces, but, unlike another period piece that I read this month (The Paying Guests), it was a simple read. It was just a solid, entertaining story.

the light between oceansRating: ***

I wasn’t in love with this book. I think I just disagreed with the decision made by the main character. Of course, the entire novel is about a moral dilemma where the husband and wife are on different sides. I sided with the wife. It kind of reminded me of Gone Baby Gone, which infuriated me because I also agreed with the girlfriend character, but the male character won out. And in both cases, the moral dilemma was about what to do with a child.

the paying guests

Rating: **

Hated this. I was super excited when I started because I love period pieces. I thought it was going to be a little bit like Downtown Abbey, where it would be a look at life post-WWI in England. Instead, it was really just a story about infidelity and crime that could have taken place in any era. I mean, a little research had to be done because there were some references to the time period, but otherwise, it really was not that great.

the portriat of a lady

Rating: ****

I loved this novel. It was longer than it needed to be, but the ambiguous ending was just right.

the return of the native

Rating: ****

I started this novel years ago. I never finished it, so I picked it back up last month. I am glad that I did.

the secret adversary

Rating: ***

This was a funny and light mystery. The whole time I was trying to guess who the bad guy. Most of the novel was completely implausible, but it was still funny.

the time traveler's wife

Rating: ****

So many people have recommended this book to me. I had not seen the movie, so when Kelly’s Blogger Book Club selected it for the October novel, I knew that I had to participate. You can read my review here! Check out Kelly’s blog to read about upcoming book club selections! November’s book is Little Women, which is a book and movie that were my favorites as a child!

the weight of blood

Rating: ****

I picked up this book because it was on sale on Audible. I absolutely loved it. The story is told in a non-sequential way, which slowly unwinds a mystery in a very small town.

wise blood

Rating: ****

I read this book as part of November’s Operation: Read Your Shelves. I have had a copy for a long time, but never read it. I thoroughly enjoyed reading O’Connor’s work again. I can’t wait to read Everything That Rises Must Converge as part of the winter reading challenge.

wonder boys

Rating: ****

I read this at the very begging of October, as part of Operation: Read Your Shelves. I squeezed it in right under the deadline. You can read my full review here!

What did you read last month?

Don’t forget that you follow me on Goodreads here!

Categories: Reading, Uncategorized, What I Read Last Month
What I Read Last Month: I Outdid Myself

Last month, I cursed myself for not creating this post as I read each novel. I said that I would do it as I went along this time. Guess what, I didn’t keep up with it, again!

what i read last month october

 

a room with a view

Rating: ***

Not my favorite book ever, but it was entertaining!

attachments

Rating: ***

This felt like a young adult novel masquarading as an adult novel. Like, the author just made the characters older and threw in a few cuss words.

defending jacob

 Rating: ****

I loved this novel. The format and the twist (of course) made is a great read!

faithful place

 Rating: ****

I read three novels from The Dublin Murder squad series last month, and I loved this one. I didn’t want to read this one because I hadn’t liked Frank in The Likeness, but it was actually very good. If you aren’t familiar with the series, each novel has a different narrator.

far from the maddening crowd

 Rating: ***

I could definitely tell that it was of Hardy’s first novels because it didn’t have the most absolutely depressing ending ever!

gone with the wind

 Rating: ****

This book took me most of August to listen to. It was so much different from the book (as far as I could remember). It was an interesting glimpse into the Civil War and the Reconstruction era.

in the woods

 Rating: *****

This novel, which is the first of the Dublin Murder Squad series, is really fantastic. The only word that I can think of to describe it is haunting. I absolutely couldn’t put it down.

reconstructing amelia

Rating: ****

I liked this book. It felt a little juvenile, but the format super interesting. The timeline wasn’t linear. It included prose, emails, texts, IMs, and all sorts of things. I read that it’s being made into a movie. I’m interested to see how in the world it will transfer onto the screen.

revolutionary road

 Rating: ***

The book made some interesting points about living in the suburbs, but it wasn’t that interesting, although I got the feeling that the author felt like he was making all sorts of profound statements. Since the book was written in 1961, about 1955, I think there wasn’t enough time for hindsight to make observations about 1955.

the forgotten garden

 Rating: *****

I absolutely loved this book. Many people recommended it during a Goodreads Account link up as their favorite book to recommend. They were right!

the handmaid's tale

 Rating: *****

I can’t believe that I waited to read this! I read a lot of negative reviews on Goodreads, but they all came from people who read the novel purely in terms of gender relations. I think this dystopian novel has more to do with how violence can occur when one group of people dehumanizes another group. Atwood just happened to pick gender. Honestly, I wish I had read this during college because it would have really helped with my honors thesis.

the king's curse

Rating: ***

I really wanted to love this novel. I have been looking forward to the novel for months. I think I enjoyed the earlier books more because I didn’t know anything about The Cousins’ War. This novel centered around Henry VIII. Honestly, I have read a ton about Henry VIII, so it wasn’t interesting at all.

the likeness

Rating: ****

This novel was a little out there in terms of the plot, but like the other novels in the series, it was completely engrossing!

the mayor of casterbridge

 Rating: ****

In typical Hardy fashion, this book had a slightly absurd beginning, but the social commentary of novel was spot-on.

the poisonwood bible

 Rating: ****

I loved this book! I know a lot of people have read this (usually for school). I don’t know what kept me  from reading it sooner.

the silkworm

 Rating: ****

Again, I loved this book.. It was a great mystery!

the sisters brothers

 Rating: ****

I have been wanting to read this novel since it was short listed for the Man Booker prize. It was super funny in a dark way. I definitely recommend it.

the tenant of wildfell hall

 Rating: ****

This novel was definitely interesting. It was no Pride & Prejudice, but once you’ve exhausted all Austen novels, you have to read something.

the thirteenth tale

 Rating: ***

I really wanted to love this novel. It is a book about books. What could be better? It was kind of out there and cooky. There were some really great parts, but it just wasn’t the best book, like I wanted it to be.

villette

 Rating: ****

I read that this book is very autobiographical. It was kind of sad because I love love. And Bronte novels aren’t really notorious for love overcoming all!

Make sure to follow me on Goodreads to keep up with my reading! I would love to see what you are reading!

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reader survey 3

What did you read last month?

Categories: Reading, What I Read Last Month
What I Read Last Month (Hint: A Lot)

what i read last month 2

I read a ton of books last month. I don’t really know how it happened. I would like to give a huge shout out to Whitney at Journey Mercies for talking about The Modern Mrs. Darcy on her blog last month, so now I am armed with a huge new list of suggestions.

If you missed it, we had a Goodreads Linkup a few weeks ago, where I also got some great new Goodreads friends and suggestions! Read the comments here for suggestions and follow me here!

Don’t forget to come back September 18 to link up your Goodreads account and tell us the best book that you read this summer!

What I Read:

The Night Circus

night circus

My Rating: *****

One word: Magical. Now go read it.

The Hypnotist’s Love Story

hypnotists love story

My Rating: ***

I was able to read this book is fewer than 24 hours. It was a quick read, which kind of read like an extended movie. There was a twist, and it was even a little bit thought provoking. It’s not my favorite book ever, but it was good entertainment.

Where’d You Go Bernadette?

where'd you do bernadette

My Rating: *****

This book was the perfect summer read. It was witty, smart, and hysterical. It was light reading, but it made some very good points. I highly recommend it!

What Alice Forgot

6469165

My Rating: ****

This novel was a quick read, which was super fun. I think that it was fun exercise in reminding us what would happen if we could live our lives with the ideals that we once had. If you have some free time and want fun, I would recommend it.

The Cuckcoo’s Calling

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My Rating: ****

I liked this! It was a bit hard to follow at parts because there were a lot of characters, who were fake celebrities. The relationships between the characters were important for the story, but sometimes I couldn’t remember how people were connected. However, my migraine in the middle of the month may have significantly contributed to my confusion. I still liked the story and can’t wait to read the second in the series.

The Silver Linings Playbook

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My Rating: *****

Loved this book! Wow. Even better than the awesome movie. You can read my full review here!

The Chaperone

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My Rating: ***

I don’t even know where to start with what was wrong with this book. Without giving anything away, the main character learns that she is too preachy and closed minded, which gives the novel exactly that tone. The author does exactly what she rails against. The novel leaves you feeling like that if you don’t agree with the viewpoints of the the author/main character, you too, are an awful person who needs to change their ways. Also, it was a horrible audiobook, despite the fact that the wonderful Elizabeth McGovern was narrating. She has such a beautiful voice, so it was weird to cast her as a midwesterner who goes to New York. The novel starts off wonderfully and is well written, which are its redeeming qualities.

Veronica Mars: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line

veronica mars thousand dollar tan lineMy Rating: *****

If you didn’t watch the entire series, plus the movie, you’ll probably be very lost and not enjoy it at all. However, if you’re a fan, it’s a great consolation prize, now that the series has ended.

All Fall Down

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My Rating: ***

When this novel came out this summer, it kept showing up in all of my suggested reading lists–thanks Amazon. It got a lot of press, but I have to wonder if those people actually read the book. It was depressing as hell, which addiction is, but the ending left me with nothing. I got nothing. I wanted to know more, but it was like the author ran out of pages, so she had to wrap it up.

Jude the Obscure

jude the obscure

My Rating: ****

Ok, I know I am a little bit weird. I am a huge Thomas Hardy fan. His novels are sad and some of the characters drive me crazy, but they are so rich with social, political, and religious commentary. The most interesting part is reading them over a hundred years after they were published because I have the benefit of a hundred years of history through which to view the novels, which were scandalous and banished at his time. Sue drove me up the wall in this novel, but Hardy really did a brilliant job with this one.

Split Second (Sean King & Michelle Maxwell #1)

split secondMy Rating: *****

I absolutely loved this novel. All of my friends have been recommending Baldacci’s novels to me for years because of my work background, and they know I love a good procedural crime novel. This was even better, though! I couldn’t put it down. It had the feel of a Criminal Minds episode… like when the show used to be good.

Me Before You

me before you

My Rating: *****

I read this book in one day. I couldn’t put it down, either. It is so thought provoking and wonderful. Seriously. What are you waiting for? Read it.

My Cousin Rachel

my cousin rachel

My Rating: ****

I absolutely loved Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier, so when I was deciding what to read next, I thought that I would try another one of her novels. This one did not disappoint at all! It’s been awhile since I’ve read a great Gothic novel, so this one fit the bill.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

the perks of being a wallflower

My Rating: *****

I’ll admit that I didn’t read this in high school when everyone else was just because I didn’t want to be like everyone else. In hindsight, I’m glad I waited until I was 26 to read it. I feel like I had my high school experience during college because I moved in the middle of high school. Additionally, I lived a pretty sheltered life until the end of college, so I’m not sure that any of this novel would have made sense to me. In college, I had a drive. I had a focus. I knew where I was going in life, and how I was going to get there. Now that I’m 26, sick, and really reevaluating things, this book actually made more sense to me than it would have 10 years ago.

Hour Game (Sean King & Michelle Maxwell #2)

hour game

My Rating: ****

After I finished Split Second, I immediately wanted to read the next novel in the series, but I made myself wait a few books in between, which was a good idea. This one was still better than the current Criminal Minds episodes, but I figured out the killers halfway through the novel, even though I didn’t know their motives. Still, it was a thoroughly enjoyable read!

lightpinkdivider

Ok, that was a lot. This post took days to put together. The whole time, I just kept thinking “I could be reading…,” so for September, maybe I’ll work on the post as I read the books.

Categories: Reading, What I Read Last Month