After a very low-key month of reading in February, I read such enjoyable books in March! We had some snow days this month that coincided with my own days off, which encouraged plenty of reading, and I was away from home for Easter weekend, which helped me finish off two books before the month ended.
As I predicted last month, a big chunk of my recent reads were by British author Harriet Evans, who I discovered at the end of February. Her books have quickly joined the ranks alongside the work of people like Meg Cabot and Jill Mansell as stories I can just dive into and happily cruise through till the end. Exploring her canon and reading a good balance of fiction and non-fiction resulted in a very satisfying March lineup of seven books!
Happily Ever After, by Harriet Evans (★★★★☆)
Out of the three Harriet Evans books I read this month, this one was my favorite, likely because it was the first book I read by the author. Once I read some of her other books, I realized that she resorts to a lot of the same character traits and situations, which can make it a little tricky to keep her books straight – all of the ones I read were still very entertaining, though!
Happily Ever After first introduces Eleanor Bee as a young, clueless 22-year-old dreaming of a job in publishing. She falls in love with the wrong man, and as her career develops over the next 10 years, her family and personal life takes unexpected twists and turns. I’m a sucker for stories that follow the same characters over a long period of time, so this was a winning combination for my introduction to Harriet Evans’ work.
I’m a total sucker for a good quote in a book. With my notebook of favorite book quotes approaching its seventh anniversary, I love seeing the progression of reading choices and what kind of writing or subject matters stuck out to me at different points of my life.
Picking up almost exactly from the point of my quote notebook I left off at in my last Favorite Book Quotes post, the 10 more quotes below date from the second semester of my junior year of college to as recently as this past fall.
“I ask you to pass through life at my side – to be my second self, and best earthly companion.”
Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
Confession: I didn’t finish reading Jane Eyre when I was assigned it for a Victorian Lit class in college. I probably read the entire first half, but lost interest when Jane left Rochester’s home. Still, I couldn’t help but be moved by this quote said by Rochester.
“In the arts, you need to learn not to expect that success will equal money.”
Mistakes I Made at Work:
I’ve balanced at least two writing/editing jobs simultaneously for over two years. I’ve done editorial work since at least a year before that. I’m proud of the experience I’ve had so early on in my professional life, but this little snippet is something I do want to remember moving forward.
Compared to January, February was a slower reading month for me. I was working a lot and had several night shifts, which swallowed up my usual reading time. The month also completely sped by, which I stupidly wasn’t expecting! I still think people are recovering from their post-Christmas laziness, but spring is just around the corner.
While I wasn’t as satisfied with February’s crop of books as much as I was with last month’s, I feel very optimistic for March! I just discovered the British author Harriet Evans at my library this week, and she writes contemporary women’s fiction primarily set in London and New York, which is right up my alley! I can already sense that some of her books will very easily become favorites over the next few weeks.
But for now, these are the four books I finished in February.
We Were the Lucky Ones, by Georgia Hunter (★★★☆☆)
If I could figure out how to make half-star ratings, We Were the Lucky Ones would actually receive 3.5 stars from me. It’s based on the author’s Jewish family’s true experiences in World War II Europe, but to the point of all but one of the characters having their real-life names and there being little to no fictional aspects of the story. It does read like a novel, but jumps forward in time each chapter and includes the POV of nearly every family member.
Despite the nontraditional storytelling, I was definitely invested in finding out what happened in this book and it kept me reading. That being said, chapters would end with characters in very stressful or unpredictable situations, and then the next time you’d hear about the character, it would be anywhere from a few months to a year ahead in time. I think that, although it was very readable, the book did work with too many characters, preventing me from growing particularly attached to any of them individually.
I’ve read a lot of nonfiction lately, but the novels I have read have had characters who instantly match with a certain actor in my mind. I love thinking of actors whose looks or past roles just immediately link to characters in a book I’m reading. My “If These Books Were Movies” posts are some of my favorite to write, and I can never resist adding another blog to that archive!
If this is the first “dream cast” post of mine you’ve come across, check out the tag for the series here!
1) James Norton as Liam Finucane (The Jane Austen Project, by Kathleen A. Flynn)
“We are just vessels. The art is eternal.”
I was totally crushing on Henry Austen in this time travel story, and although I never fully got over him, Liam is quite the stoic charmer. He’s an actor-turned-academic, and as he and Rachel begin their mission in 1815 to find a lost Jane Austen manuscript, he’s quite unreadable. It’s not until the mission intensifies and the two grow closer while posing as siblings that their goal becomes a tad more far-fetched.
Thanks to the bitterly cold and snowy first two weeks of January and more free time than usual before I started a new job, I finished six books in January that were all downloaded onto my Kindle. I’ve recently found that I can get through a book much quicker by reading it on my e-reader — maybe it has to do with seeing a smaller amount of text on the screen than on a single page?
Seeing as I’m out of school now and working on my computer all day, I think I’ve felt more drawn to reading during downtime, so I’m very excited to see if I read a similar number of books in February. So, for the first time on my blog, I’m sharing my thoughts about the books I read this month!
Lunch in Paris: A Love Story, with Recipes, by Elizabeth Bard (★★★☆☆)
This is a travel memoir capturing the author’s budding relationship with a Frenchman and her transition to full-time life in France when their connection turns serious. It includes French recipes that Bard tried out while adjusting to the stylistic and cultural differences of an European kitchen.
I skimmed through the recipes included in the book and enjoyed the author’s personal story, but I’ve definitely read similar books, so Lunch in Paris wasn’t particularly special in the end.
I snatched up this great-sounding topic from The Broke and the Bookish’s Top Ten Tuesday subject list! That is my good-to source for inspiration when I’m stuck on what to write about, and this particular idea takes the concept of what authors I’d like to meet (which I wrote about ages ago) to the next level. I took “bookish” to mean writers of any kind, whether they’re journalists, authors or general creators. These are people who inspire me, create escapist worlds, and remind me that pursuing the written word in a career is far from being silly.
Here we go!
1) J.K. Rowling
I mean, duh.
2) Heidi Thomas
Not only is Heidi the creator and main writer of one of my favorite shows, Call the Midwife (and married to Stephen McGann / Dr. Turner, which I’m low-key jealous of), she’s also the mind behind the recent adaptations of Ballet Shoes, the musical Gigi, and the upcoming (in the U.S.) version of Little Women. Call the Midwife is such an underrated show, but it celebrates women, their strength, and good men who support them so well. I admire Heidi so much, and I love how she works with mostly female directors on the show. She also uses her platform to share so many unique birth stories and highlight reproductive and general health issues women faced in the mid-twentieth century.
Dream-casting characters in books I’ve recently read has become my favorite kind of blog post to make. It’s so funny how within just a few pages of some books, an actor’s face will permanently slap across one of the characters for me. For today’s post, I picked books that I’ve read within the last two months or so, thus these “portrayals” are still very vivid in my mind!
For my previous “If These Books Were Movies” posts, check out the category’s tag!
1) Zachary Levi as Joshua Templeman (The Hating Game, by Sally Thorne)
“Shyness takes so many different forms. Some people are shy and soft. Some, shy and hard. Or in Josh’s case, shy, and wrapped in military-grade armor.”
After seeing other bloggers rave about this book, I had such high hopes for it, but it fell a little flat for me. The “romance” stories I gravitate towards are usually more innocent books written by authors like Sophie Kinsella, and they have a well-rounded narrator with an entertaining personality and plenty of fun friends and family around her. This narrator was…fine. The book was just a little dull because I didn’t feel like I knew the main character Lucy very well, and it didn’t help that she lost her only close friend through work drama before the story started and her parents were only seen via Skype.
However, the highlight of the book was seeing Lucy chip away at the tough exterior of her work rival and eventual love interest Joshua. Joshua is a sarcastic guy who plays tough but proves to be a caring softie when Lucy grows more attracted to him. I almost instantly saw Zachary Levi as Josh. I totally fell in love with him after watching him in the live broadcast of She Loves Me last year, and his character in that musical is similar to Josh in that he loves to rile up the people he clashes with. From what I’ve seen, Zach is a genuinely charming and friendly guy, and I think he could pull off Josh’s icy exterior and his succeeding kindness.
I graduated college this year, and in the past, books I read in my English classes have often appeared on my yearly favorites list (check out my picks for 2014, 2015, and 2016). Having taken only one literature class my last semester, where I skimmed rather than read, that wasn’t the case this year. Although I ended up adoring most of the books from my college English classes (I took the majority of them with the same professor, whose reading picks I knew I usually enjoyed), I went a little lighter with my reading choices this year.
As 2017 progressed, I turned to a lot of fun chick lit to clear my mind and fast-paced historical fiction to busy it. As a result, my favorites list this year is comprised of just that. It looks quite different from past years’ lists, but more importantly, I found stories that captured me, and managed to read 52 books this year as of Dec. 22!
As always, a disclaimer: these are just books I read for the first time in 2017, not necessarily books that were published this year.
1) The French War Bride, by Robin Wells
We made each other feel loved and accepted and treasured. I think that is all one can ask for in this life.
I gushed about this book here, and it remains my favorite read of the year. There are a ton of books set in France during World War II, and I’ve read a good number of them, but The French War Bride is the most captivating, comprehensive story about this pocket of time that I’ve ever read. It’s a long one, but it wouldn’t let go of me until I finished two days in, so it can speed by! If you’re treating yourself to a few lazy days after Christmas this year, pick it up from your library or ebook store!
2017 was a bit of a mess politically and socially. Trump’s tirades, several terrorist attacks, and an onslaught of sexual assault allegations were just some of the difficult moments we faced on a global scale this year. Although it’s important to find a balance between caring enough for the world’s struggles and taking note of your own self care, I’ve always loved entertainment and pop culture because of the relief they provide from sad or negative things.
Despite all of its negativeness, 2017 had plenty of moments that made me happy. I wanted to share my favorite pop culture moments of the year, so get ready to go down memory lane!
1) Prince Harry and Meghan Markle get engaged
Guys, this love story is a made-for-TV movie come to life! But, seriously, I’m hoping for another perfectly cheesy Lifetime flick about them a la William and Kate. Until recent months, I never knew much about Meghan Markle, but I definitely liked the sound of her and her relationship with Harry. After watching their adorable engagement interview, it’s clear that they’re truly in love and that Meghan has already begun a seamless-looking transition into royal life. Try not to smile watching that interview.
Going through my longtime book quote notebook for insight into 10 of my favorite quotes was so much fun that I continued sifting through my records for 10 more lovely quotes to talk about. While the first post solidly covered books read in my last two years of high school and first year of college, these quotes jump around in time a lot. While away at college, I never had my notebook with me, and I kept quotes I liked in my phone Notes. I work through transferring quotes from the phone to the book quite slowly, so the notebook has some chronological gaps. So, I would say that this post includes books I read mostly from freshman to junior year of college.
“I waited patiently – years – for the pendulum to swing the other way, for men to start reading Jane Austen, learn how to knit, pretend to love cosmos, organize scrapbook parties, and make out with each other while we leer. And then we’d say, ‘Yeah, he’s a cool guy.’ But it never happened. Instead, women across the nation colluded in our degradation! Pretty soon Cool Girl became the standard girl.”
Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn
Gone Girl is one of those books that I didn’t really like, yet it was a fascinating page-turner that really messed with the reader’s perspective. I can understand why both it and the movie adaptation did so well. It’s passages like these that drew me in and made me stop and think about how society works. I like this quote because of how it sets up this double standard that plays out with men and women – women are rewarded for liking what men are typically more interested in, while men who like “girly stuff” are made fun of.