Ree Reads: March Book Reviews

Well, I hit an all-time high in March. Thanks to great audio books and the 8 hour drive to and from my sister’s new home in Illinois, plus several books I COULD NOT PUT DOWN, I read eleven books this month. YAY!

I loved all of the non-fiction I read this month for very different reasons, but if I had to name a favorite I’d probably go with the one that has stuck with me the most. I listened to this at the very beginning of the month, and I’m still thinking about it.

I also thoroughly enjoyed all the fiction I read, including some totally discussable reads that would make great book club choices. But if I’m being honest? My favorite reads in March were light and fluffy, with hardly any substance at all: a new cozy mystery series that I’m practically obsessed with.

 

March Quick Book Reviews (FICTION)

Looking for a good book? Quick reviews of the (many) great books I read in March!

 

March Book Reviews: Really great fiction and non-fiction, including several great book club picks

As Bright as Heaven, by Susan Meissner

As Bright As Heaven tells the story of the Bright women, a mother and her 3 daughters, who move to Philadelphia after the death of their infant son/brother when their husband/father takes over his uncle’s undertaker business. The story rotates between each woman’s perspective, as the family grapples with the affects of WWI and a global influenza pandemic that hit Philadelphia particularly hard.

This is a well written, gentle book that made me cry (but I am happy I read it.) It’s a story of love and loss, life, death and mourning, and beauty from ashes. The author did a great job distinguishing each girl/woman’s voice from each other, and showing the differing and growing maturity of each of the girls over time. Considering that death is practically a character in this book, it is an amazingly hope filled story. Loved it.

I would never have found this book if not for the Book of the Month subscription a friend gave me for Christmas. I have LOVED BOTM, and couldn’t recommend it more (especially as a gift!) If you think BOTM sounds like something you’d enjoy, sign up using this link and we’ll BOTH get a free book (yay!)

 

March Book Reviews: Really great fiction and non-fiction, including several great book club picksIMG_2468The Veronica Speedwell Mysteries (books 1 & 2), by Deanna Raybourn

Veronica Speedwell is a freaking Victorian era delight and these are the best written mysteries I have read in a while, with lots of twists and turns and resolutions that are neither predictable nor out of left field. Veronica makes a delightfully intelligent, strong heroine, with an equally wonderful partner/hero/not-yet-love-interest, though surely that will change (soon I hope.) I can’t wait to read the third in the series, and hope that Ms. Rayborn is writing more as fast as humanly possible.

 

March Book Reviews: Really great fiction and non-fiction, including several great book club picks

Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng

Little Fires Everywhere is a perfect book club book, so many discussable (and even debate-worthy) topics: The rights of all three parties in the adoption triad, abortion, teen sex, secrets, perfectionism, and privilege. It didn’t feel like an agenda book, just a really good story dealing with hard, possibly unresolvable issues.

I found this story riveting, and un-put-downable, especially as the various secrets began to some to light, and conflict seemed inevitable.

I read this book quickly, and wanted to talk about it afterward. For the record, this was also a Book of the Month Club choice.

 

 

March Book Reviews: Really great fiction and non-fiction, including several great book club picks

Big Little Lies, by Liane Moriarty

This is the story of friendships, marriages (good and very very bad), the secrets we keep and the stories we hide, but most of all it is a story about the strength of women.

I watched the Reese Witherspoon/Nicole Kidman mini-series on the (very long) plane ride home from India, and loved it (it is SO GOOD.) If I hadn’t already known the story, I wouldn’t have been able to listen to the audiobook (too much suspense, I have to hold stressful books in my hands, with the option to look ahead and see how it ends!) The audiobook is wonderful, loved the Australian setting and the narrator’s accent. Plus the two parts of the movie that stressed me out the most (one of the main characters has an affair and another keeps a gun in a bedside table) were not in the book.

Trigger Warning: This book contains characters experiencing domestic violence and a very realistic picture of consensual sex turning quickly into sexual assault/rape.

 

March Quick Book Reviews (NONFICTION)

Looking for a good book?  Quick reviews of the (many) great books I read in March!

 

March Quick Book Reviews (FICTION)

Four Seasons in Rome, by Anthony Doerr

Unpopular opinion alert: I did not love All the Light You Cannot See. The subject matter was too gruesome (nazis) for me, and the ending was unsatisfying. But the writing was gorgeous and evocative, making me want to read more of Doerr’s work.

I enjoyed the sights and sounds, and the people of Rome into which Four Seasons gives a glimpse. I love memoirs in audio, but there was a lot here I wish I could have underlined and highlighted, because the prose is so lovely. And now I want to go to Italy.

 

 

March Quick Book Reviews (FICTION)

Bored & Brilliant, by Manoush Zomorodi

I kind of think everyone should read this book. Interesting, educational and actually helpful, Bored and Brilliant is not anti-tech at all, just anti-mindless tech. Zomorodi’s mission is to help us use technology as a tool, without letting it take over our lives and rob us of many of the best parts of life (and our own brains.) Great chapters on creativity and parenting in particular.

This is a self-help book, seeking to help decrease our compulsive phone habits. It has simple, actionable steps – the author recommends finishing the book and then doing the challenges, so I will probably end up reading it twice, as I do the challenges.

Manoush Zomorodi is a radio/podcast show host, so the audiobook is fantastic, but there’s a lot I wanted to own and underline.

If I was in a book club willing to read non-fiction, this would be at the top of my list.

 

 

March Quick Book Reviews (FICTION)

A Million Little Ways, by Emily P. Freeman

This book was more than I expected…. I thought it was a book about art and creativity. And it is, but it is also about being brave, trusting Jesus, and living a life only you can live (whether you consider yourself an artist or not.)

I listened to this on Hoopla, I love Emily Freeman’s voice, and it is free, so I highly recommend that. But I also ordered a copy to underline, absorb and keep because I need it to sink more deeply than I can manage while listening/driving/doing laundry etc.

Highly recommend.

 

 

March Quick Book Reviews (FICTION)

All the President’s Men, by Carl Bernstein & Bob Woodward

Woodward & Bernstein are Washington Post journalists who investigated the break in at the Watergate hotel and uncovered the conspiracy to cover up what was going on in the Nixon White House.

It feels like this book (and the movie based on it) have been on my list forever, but I never got around to reading it. The excellent Slate podcast Slow Burn (a deep dive into Watergate) reawoke my interest, and I am so glad I finally got around to reading (listening) to this.

I enjoyed looking behind the scenes of investigative journalism, and am fascinated by the Nixon White House and all it revealed about what people will do to get and stay in power. This is a very interesting, thought provoking book, especially in light of our current political situation and the relationship between journalists and the current administration. Fascinating.

 


I listened to the audiobook for all four of these non-fiction reads (my favorite way to consume most non-fiction.)  I did not love Anthony Doerr’s narration, and wished I could underline and copy out large chunks of Bored & Brilliant and A Million Little Ways.


 

I am very very happy with my reading life in March, and would recommend all of these to just about any reader. Yay for good books!

Next up: I am giving myself a reading challenge for the month of April. I have a list of about 10 books I’ve abandoned over the last few years, for one reason or another (some of them I tried to read before I’d sufficiently re-grown my internet-stunted attention span; others I just wasn’t in the mood for). I’ve checked them all out from the library, and am going to attempt to finish them, starting with one that seems right up my alley, but didn’t hold my attention in audiobook form. I can jump right in, because in between starting and finishing this post, I started and finished the third Veronica Speedwell. Now I need to go find out when the 4th is coming out, argh.

 

What was the best book you read in March?

 


 

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8 thoughts on “Ree Reads: March Book Reviews

  1. I enjoy your reviews, Renee. You’re right about Little Fires Everywhere being good for book clubs. Ours discussed it earlier this month, and it was a great discussion. So many different things to talk about!
    I’ve been wanting to read that Anthony Doerr book for ages, so maybe your review is just the boost I need. I’m glad to hear that you didn’t love the audiobook; I’ll so ahead and read it instead.
    I’m impressed at the amount of reading you get done with your busy life!

    • Thanks Debi!! Four Seasons in Rome is usually the exact type of book that is my favorite on audio, and he reads it himself which I usually love. Others weren’t bothered by the narration, so you could check a sample? But for me, if felt like someone had told him to be sure to read slowly and enunciate and I could HEAR him enunciating. I listened at a faster speed than I have ever even attempted 😂😂😂

  2. Ooh, thanks for the review on books Renee!! It makes me excited about all kinds of new possibilities. I read Garden Spells that you recommended and absolutely loved it! Also, I read the Selection series – super fun and more fluff but enjoyable :). I started Kisses from Katie and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society but haven’t finished them yet. And for non-fiction I started reading Family in Mission by Sally Breen and Mike Breen!

    • Gina, this makes me so happy! I have never heard of The Selection, I will have too look into them. They are described as dystopian, are they depressing or scary? (I didn’t make it past the first book in either The Hunger Games or Divergent.) Guernsey is one of my faves but slow to get going, and I of course LOVE Kisses from Katie. Are you enjoying Family on Mission, I have never heard of it?

      • No The Selection series is much more on the dreamy side than on the depressing side which is more where I would put Hunger games (along with stressful/action etc). And I am loving family on mission! Lots to think about in how to integrate family (not just biological, more like your framily) and mission instead of compartmentalizing the two, which is what I do! I’ve also read and am part of a two year learning community where we read Building a Discipling Culture that it coordinates with and it has been so helpful in life and ministry rhythms.

  3. Pingback: Ree Reads: April Book Reviews – Renee Meyer

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