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2018 Recent Reads: January-March

It’s here – the first 2018 Recent Reads post! Basically, 4 times a year, I’ll have a post where I talk about the books that I read in the previous 3 months. I did this last year, and I loved looking back at the books that I had read and recapping them in one post.

What has been really nice this year is that I have more time to read for fun. Since I finished my MA in December, I haven’t had buckets of homework to do, I can actually relax and read. Check out what I’ve read so far in 2018, and send me your book recommendations in the comments!

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Looking for book recommendations? I'm recapping what I read in the first quarter of the year, including my personal rating of each book, so you can find something to read. I read a wide variety of genres, so you're sure to find something that you'll want to read!

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Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How To Edit Yourself into Print – Dare I say this? This is an absolute necessity for all writers. You know that feeing when you finish the first draft of a book and you’re super proud of it but you also don’t want to show it to anyone yet? Get past that with this book. It is super, super helpful. Here’s what makes it extra great: at the end of each chapter, there’s an overview of the lessons from the chapter and exercises for you to practice the lessons from that chapter. I can’t recommend this book enough.

Rating: 5/5

If you write fiction, you need Self-Editing for Fiction Writers! I'm sharing my review of this book, plus all of the other books I've read in the first part of the year.

The Lost Order – You know the National Treasure movies? I think this is along the same lines, plus the risk of someone trying to change how the US government works. Here’s the official description: “As [Cotton] Malone tries to uncover the truth about one of the United States’ most legendary secrets, he finds himself on a perilous adventure that takes him from the Senate floor and the backrooms of the Smithsonian Institution to the deepest woods in rural Arkansas and finally into the rugged mountains of New Mexico.” It turns out that this is part of a series, but I’ve never read any of the other books and had no problems. It’s really good!

Rating: 4/5

Reviewing The Lost Order and every other book I read in January through March.

Life After Life – What if you died over and over and kept living the same life in different ways? As the book blurb says, “For as she grows, she also dies, repeatedly, in any number of ways. Ursula’s world is in turmoil, facing the unspeakable evil of the two greatest wars in history. What power and force can one woman exert over the fate of civilization — if only she has the chance?” This is a fascinating and engaging book that I couldn’t put down. I would give it 5/5, but I wish it had a more satisfying ending.

Rating: 4/5

The Handmaid’s Tale – I never read this in high school or college, but I’ve been hearing about it for years, so now that I’m not in school, I figured it was time to read it! I loved it. I couldn’t put it down; I finished it in two days. I actually read it during the Superbowl! I’ve started watching the series with my sister, too, and it’s amazing. I also read this to fit the Modern Mrs. Darcy 2018 Reading Challenge in the category of a banned book.

Rating: 5/5

Have you read The Handmaid's Tale yet? Here's why you should, plus whether or not you should read the others that I read in January through March.

Three Sisters, Three Queens – I’ve read a lot about Henry VIII and his wives. I’ve read a book about his little sister, Mary, Queen of France. But I’ve never read a book about his older sister, Margaret, Queen of Scots. This book is told through Margaret’s eyes and focuses on her relationship with her sister and her sister-in-law Katherine from when Katherine arrives in England to marry Arthur, Henry’s older brother who was supposed to be king, until just before Henry splits with the Catholic Church to divorce Katherine. It’s fascinating. (For those curious, Margaret was the grandmother of Mary, Queen of Scots, and therefore the great-grandmother of James VI and I of Scotland and England, who succeeded Elizabeth I.)

Rating: 4/5

Drums of Autumn – This is one of my favorite Outlander books, and it’s the one that the next season of the show is based off of! I knew that I wanted to reread it before the show comes out, but not so soon before the show that I remember every detail and am sad with any and all differences. What I love about this book is that Claire and Jamie finally get a home after 3 books of never being in one place long enough to really, truly make one. Plus, one particular very exciting event leads to other exciting events that I can’t share without major spoilers. (Note: you do need to read the other books to understand this one, but trust me: they’re worth it.) This book fits the reading challenge in the category of book that’s more than 500 pages.

Rating: 5/5

Reviewing what I've read so far this year, including Drums of Autumn.

Everything I Never Told You – This is a really beautifully written book, but it’s a sad one. In the 1970s, a teenage girl goes missing and is found dead. This book is about her family and their life after. By the end of the book, we know the family’s background (how the parents met, what happened in the decades leading up, etc.), what happened to the girl, and what happens in the months after her death. But it’s absolutely wonderfully written and I loved it. This book fits the reading challenge in the category of a book by an author of a different race, ethnicity, or religion than your own.

Rating: 5/5

Need a book recommendation? I've got you covered. I'm reviewing everything I read in January through March, including Everything I Never Told You.

Warning Light – (FYI, I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.) The premise of this book is that a CIA analyst – aka desk job in the office – volunteers for a job in the field and things go haywire. He has to escape people who want to kill him in a foreign country, despite not having ever done anything like that before. Based on the description, it seems like something I would love. But I found it lacking. By the time I was half-way through, it was getting boring because he was basically doing the same thing just in different locations. Honestly, it felt like male escapism (he has never done any of this before but he’s still mastering the tasks). Are books a great way to escape the world? Yes. But it is not the kind of escapism that I like, and, like I mentioned, it was getting boring. To be honest, I couldn’t even finish the book.

Rating: 2/5

The Girl in the Spider’s Web – If the title sounds familiar, it’s because this is one of the books in the Lisbeth Salander series, aka The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. This is the fourth in the series, and what’s different about this from the others is that it’s written by a different writer. The first writer died, and the second claimed that he had instructions from and the blessing of the first writer. I was always suspicious of this claim (how is the first writer going to dispute that?), which is why I hadn’t read it before. But a book that book fit the reading challenge in the category of a book in translation, and I really struggled with this category last year, so I decided to give this a try. I did like it, but it wasn’t nearly as good as the first three books. It lacked the same intensity and I-have-to-keep-reading feeling, and I had to kind of force myself to finish it. If you’re spending a day flying on a trip and need something to occupy yourself, give this a try, but otherwise, don’t bother.

Rating: 3/5

Reviewing The Girl in the Spider's Web, as well as everything else I've read in January through March.

What are you currently reading?

Like this post? Check out:

2017 Recent Reads, 31 Historical Fiction Novels To Take You Back in Time, Why You Should Read and Watch Outlander, Best Books about Writing, Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert: A Review

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