Like the first half of the month, my reading took a bit of an unexpected turn during the second half of March. I know I said I wanted to finish Grant this month, but I didn’t think it would actually happen since there were so many other books I wanted to read. Not to spoil everything, but I actually wound up finishing Grant! Which means I didn’t do a ton of other reading during the second half of the month.
That said, I did still read four books from my 2017 shelves! That combined with all of the rereading I did this month and the fact that I finally finished Grant (seriously, I keep randomly telling my husband how excited and impressed I am that I finally finished this book) have me pretty happy with my March reading.
The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton
So I mentioned in the first part of my monthly wrap up that I wanted to spend the weekend getting through some books that had been hanging out for a while. Well, The Queens of Innis Lear, which is pitched as Game of Thrones meets King Lear, was one of them, and after avoiding it for a while and eventually forcing myself to read it, I decided to just go ahead and DNF it.
The publisher provided me with an advance digital sampler of The Queens of Innis Lear via NetGalley in exchange for a review.
I really like multi-perspective fantasy books, but I struggled so hard to get into this one. I was so confused and there were so many characters, and a lot of them weren’t remotely likable. I thought some of it might be because I was reading it in snatches during commutes and stuff, but I didn’t enjoy it even when I forced myself to sit down and read it. If I had heard awesome things about it going in, I might have pushed past it and finished the book, but since I was reading it prerelease, I didn’t have that external motivator to keep going. I’m not writing this book off by any means and can totally see myself coming back to it if other people make me excited to give it another shot, but it just wasn’t working for me at that point in time, so I decided to stop and focus on books I was more excited about.
Grant by Ron Chernow
I also mentioned in part one of my monthly wrap up that I was going to make more progress in Ron Chernow’s biography of Grant, and I did, but I wound up getting so invested that I decided to commit to finishing it. And I did! Which is amazing to me, because I did not actually expect to finish it this month despite putting it on my March TBR.
At 960 pages, this isn’t a book I would recommend to everyone. It’s not a casual read. But if you’re interested in American history, I highly recommend checking it out. Chernow did such a thorough job recounting Grant’s life, and I thought he was really fair in his critiques of Grant while making sure the general was given his proper due. Grant is a fascinating person and was alive during an incredibly interesting and important time in history, and I really enjoyed learning more about him.
This book was also instrumental in filling in some of my gaps in knowledge regarding Reconstruction and post-Civil War America. Like many people, I actually knew very little about Grant’s efforts to stamp out the Ku Klux Klan (which was a completely different organization than the one that sprang up decades later) and reintegrate the Southern states into the Union. He actually did a lot to protect everyone’s civil rights, though unfortunately a lot of this work was undone in later years. But it’s still incredibly impressive, and he deserves a lot more credit as a president than he really gets. Also, this time period is so fascinating. How do we not teach more about it in schools?! I swear, my school skipped straight from the Civil War to World War I, but that leaves out so much interesting history.
Even though it took me forever to get through this book, Chernow is a really good writer and I really enjoyed revisiting some of the history I knew and learning more about the history I didn’t. It’s well worth the read if you’re interested.
And if you’re interested but unwilling to commit to such a big book, you should consider checking out some interviews with Chernow! It’s a good way to get you started in learning a bit more about why Grant is such a special person. I was recommended this one by a friend I met at a few book signings who knew I was interested in this book (hi Crystal!) and really enjoyed it.
My American Duchess by Eloisa James
All I knew about My American Duchess going into it was that the American heroine created a stir when she asked for a piece of pineapple from a fruit display at a party because all of the English guests knew that pineapples cost a fortune and were frequently rented, and that you never ate the pineapple. If a story involving rented pineapples doesn’t draw you in, I’m not sure what will!
As a result, I never read the blurb and didn’t realize that Merry just got engaged to Cedric at the beginning of the book, only to wind up falling in love with his twin brother, Trent. I do have to admit, I dislike books where the heroine (or hero) is engaged to someone at the start of the book who isn’t the hero (or heroine). It usually makes me start out questioning said hero or heroine’s choices, making it harder for me to connect with them (especially in this book, because Cedric was so obviously wrong for Merry), and I dislike all of the angst that comes with breaking off the first engagement. It’s just never going to be a trope that appeals to me.
That said, how have I waited so long to finally read this book?! Seriously, I’ve always enjoyed Eloisa James’ books, but something about these last two I’ve read has really made me realize how much I appreciate her writing style and storytelling. This is exactly why I included her on my list of authors whose backlists I need to read, and I need to go out and pick up her Wilde series soon! I really enjoyed watching Merry and Trent fall in love even though I wanted to slap Cedric the entire time, and I absolute adored this book after Cedric was out of the picture. Although, where is his story?! I need it now! The hint of a redemption arc at the end has me totally hooked. This book was wonderful, and I can’t wait to go pick up more of James’ books.
Bygone Badass Broads by Mackenzie Lee
Bygone Badass Broads is just so delightful, and I love everything about it. It’s a collection of essays about badass women throughout history that most people, especially Americans, probably haven’t heard of, with an emphasis on non-Western, non-white, and not straight women. It’s written in a really fun and conversational style with a lot of pop culture references, and I think it does a really good job of profiling a really diverse mix of truly badass women. And it’s complemented with awesome illustrations of each women (which is why I included it in my list of my favorite illustrated books). My one criticism would be that I want even longer profiles of each of these women, and I want more women profiled! Which really isn’t even a criticism, because it essentially translates to “I want more!!” I really, really enjoyed this book and thought it was a fun and informative read, and I’m excited to go check out more compendiums of badass, forgotten women in history (though I’m skeptical those other books have as awesome titles as this one).
That’s it for this month! I was hoping to get in a bit more reading at the end and finish A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas, among a few other books I’ve been eyeing, but work kept me really busy this last week and then my sister came to town. I finished Grant, though, so I really have nothing to complain about! And I have no doubt that I’ll get plenty of reading done in April.
What have you been reading this past month? Let me know in the comments!