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: 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: , , ,