March 2020 Reading Wrap-up

What a month it has been! It’s crazy to think that just a month ago I was in school as normal, and now I’m quarantined at home doing my college classes over the web and rarely ever leaving my house (which is no problem for me, because I love staying home).

With that, you would think that I would have read a lot this month, but surprisingly I only managed to complete 11 books, following 17 of the month before. You would think I would have more time to read, but I find myself getting busy with things I haven’t been able to do while in school, like sewing, cooking, and spending time with family. Don’t get my wrong, 11 books are good, even if the majority (5 of them) I rated only two stars. But at least there were no 1 stars.

So let’s get into my reviews!

2 Stars

  • His Majesty’s Hope (Maggie Hope #3) by Susan Elia MacNeal (released 2013)
    • On one hand, I enjoyed this book better than the first two in this series. On the other hand, the ending felt so pointless I think I’m giving up this series for good. I enjoyed the setting of spying within Germany, but Maggie was annoying as ever and much of the side plots were pointless. All the scenes with Hugh and David felt like filler. I did like more of the information about Maggie and her mother, and I loved the historical context, especially the details of the extermination of people in Germany at the time, which was truly chilling. However, the story and characters just felt dull in a fascinating setting. After giving this series three shots, I think I’m giving up on it entirely.
  • Lord of the Flies by William Golding (released 1954)
  • The Bear by Andrew Krivak (released Feb. 2020)
    • I liked the idea of this book, a girl and her father surviving in the wild. And it’s also a short book, so while the premise seemed pretty simply, I thought the shortness of the book would compensate for the lack of plot. It did not. Don’t get me wrong, the themes of loss and grief are great, as is the existence of the mysterious bear. However, about 75% or more of this book is just the characters surviving, which gets repetitive and boring pretty quickly. So, interesting premise, but didn’t really go anywhere and was bogged down with slower, unimportant moments.
  • The Secret Guests by Benjamin Black (released Jan. 2020)
    • This book sounded like it would be interesting, but the novel turned out to be very unimpressive. First off, besides the interesting setting, there’s not much to this story. It’s kind of a mystery, kind of a drama, and mostly just dull. It’s got some interesting descriptions, but there are too many bland characters to keep track of and the story never really goes anyway. It’s like reading about a person going through their ordinary day for 300 pages. I was honestly yawning for most of this book.
  • Dark Places by Gillian Flynn (released May 2009)

3 Stars

  • Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu (released Jan. 2020)
    • I really enjoyed the premise and ideas within this novel. It covers how Asian people were seen in America, especially Hollywood, in the 50’s and later. It walks this line between serious drama, and humor, and I was constantly confused on what was real and what was acting. While I did enjoy this book in many ways, a lot of the messages were a little on-point and obvious and I felt the story itself could have been so much more moving if handled differently. However, it’s a quick read and interesting, so I would recommend it.
  • A Beautiful Corpse (Harper McClain #2) by Christi Daugherty (released March, 2019)
    • On one hand, I really enjoy the overall mystery examined in this series, which is given more clues in this book than in the first. However, the specific murder mystery was kind of pathetic. There was one main suspect and they were the murderer. There were no red herrings, no interesting twists. It was just boring. I also wasn’t a huge fan of the romance, which felt forced and bland. Saying that, I am tempted to continue on in this series just to learn about who killed Harper’s mother and what mysterious man is protecting her.

4 Stars

  • Finding True Happiness by Fulton Sheen (released July 2013)
    • These are short excerpts from Sheen’s other books on different topics, like egotism, loneliness, joy, etc. It gives very simple, practical advice. My only complaint with this book is, because it’s only short excerpts, I had the constant sensation that I should be reading the original works and was missing the depth of things without it. However, it is a nice, quick book to read.
  • The Epic of Gilgamesh by Unknown (released c. 1800 BC)
    • I really love reading different mythology or ancient writing, from Homer to Popol Vuh. And none is older than this. It’s a rather short book, and I don’t know how fond I was of the particular translation I read. It’s also interesting to see the parallels between this story and the Biblical story of Noah and the Ark as the two are so similar. It is considered the oldest book of all time and, while it took me only a couple hours to read, it’s a fascinating read especially considered the historical context surrounding it.

5 Stars

  • The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James (released Feb. 2020)
  • The Gulag Archipelago, Volume II by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (released 1974)
    • Finally done with volume two and 700 pages later! I really love this series of books. It helps me understand both the psychology of humanity as well as the history of Russia during this time, especially things I have never heard even though I’m a history major. It is interesting how Solzhenitsyn can take a look both at the particular example inside the gulags of people as well as the observed behavior of people in general like the children (which reminded me a bit like Lord of the Flies), the thieves, and the families left behind when people were arrested. Only one more volume to go.

So, there you have it. I do hope that things will settle down slightly in April and I’ll be able to get back to more reading, even if I still won’t be able to leave my house except for necessary trips.

What books did you read this month? Have you read any of these books? And how are you doing in this difficult time with the virus? Let me know your thoughts in the comments, follow my blog for more musings and, as always,

Best wishes in your life full of adventure,

Madame Writer

8 thoughts on “March 2020 Reading Wrap-up

  1. Hi there! I’m currently going through The Wrath and the Dawn (stole it off my sister’s bookshelf). I’d finished Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis and The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton earlier last week. I encourage you to give these three a try sometime down the road if you haven’t already. I especially enjoyed Mere Christianity because Lewis unravels the complexities of the religion in logical, simple terms so that practically anyone proficient in the English language would be able to understand.

    I’ve also been stuck at home, away from my UC Davis campus since mid-March. Fingers crossed that I’ll be able to drive back with my friend before the end of this quarter, but who knows (shrugs).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the recommendations! I really need to read Mere Christianity, because I own it and love every book I’ve read by him. I haven’t really liked Renee Ahdieh’s writing style, but I’ll look up The Wrath and the Dawn. The Outsiders I haven’t heard of. I’ll have to look it up too.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post! I have not read many of these books and I am very curious now to check out The Sun Down Motel. I love mystery books that are about rundown roadside motels and small towns – these “cosy” settings suit these types of stories so well.

    I never quite understood the hype surrounding the Gillian Flynn books maybe because it passed me by at some point, but I also watched the movie “Gone Girl” and thought I knew everything about her style and plotlines. I actually think that the film “Gone Girl” has a plot twist that is late for about twenty-thirty years because had it been made much earlier it would have been mind-blowing, but in the early 2010s it was not longer something unexpected and I remember I felt rather underwhelmed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who was disappointed in Flynn’s plots, even if I never saw or read Gone Girl. And I highly recommend The Sun Down Motel. It was surprisingly good!


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