What I Read in April 2019
I finished 15 books in April, which is my lowest count so far this year.
Several titles listed here are advanced copies I received from NetGalley, so keep your eyes peeled for the included release dates so you can grab them when they become available!
Lady Derring Takes a Lover by Julie Ann Long
Lady Derring blows apart preconceived notions about romance novels. The female characters are strong, determined to live their lives as widows without ever again needing to be cared for by a man. The main male character gradually becomes aware of how these women were brought down by shady men in their lives. He becomes determined to not do the same, which involves a bit of introspection. I was initially thrown off by the writing style (historically accurate language and lots of big words) but I got used to it, and I like the historical setting. It’s a fun story overall- there’s a bit of mystery and adventure, plus lots of sharp wit.
Elsey Come Home by Susan Conley
This feels more like a memoir than a novel, almost like reading someones journal entries. We bounce around inside Elsey’s head with her as she faces an ultimatum from her husband. She will go on a week-long mountain retreat or accept that her marriage may be over. The writing style is unique, and she creates a scene well. While slow at times, the overall story is enjoyable.
The Everyday Empath by Raven Digitalis
This is a re-read. I read an advanced copy of this in December, and bought a physical copy from the author when it was released this spring.
Raven writes with a friendly tone, and explains complicated concept in a straightforward manner. He provides citations and resources in places where the reader may need or want to seek further information. He makes advanced concepts accessible, and provides a ton of resources and techniques for an empath’s tool box.
On the Come Up by Angie Thomas
Read for the Country Bookshelf Challenge Category: A book by an author of color published in 2019 Angie Thomas is writing important books that need to reach a wide audience. This is a powerful story, not only of one girl’s life and coming of age, but of her entire family. They struggle with poverty, gang violence, and racial profiling. The writing is simple and repetitive, making for a fast read, but it’s a lot deeper than it appears on the surface. Overall, it’s worth reading.
Signs: The Secret Language of the Universe by Laura Lynne Jackson
Advanced copy from NetGalley, Expected publication June 18, 2019 The tone of the book is overwhelmingly positive and encouraging. Jackson uses straightforward language to best explain her beliefs and give guidance. She shows the ready how to not only remain open to signs from The Other Side, but to live a life that is based in love, not fear. As someone who is already open to receiving signs from The Universe, I found it a bit repetitive, though I’m sure that’s intentional to drive the point home.
The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
For the PopSugar Challenge category: A climate fiction book A compelling, enjoyable read that went quickly and left me with a lot to think about. This novel is a unique combination of character driven story, coming of age tale, and a climate disaster. Walker’s writing is atmospheric. It’s tough to know what we’re supposed to be focusing on, all the parts come together in an eerily wonderful way. This is the story of a girl about to turn 12, and her family. The backdrop is an Earth with a slowing rotation which causes gradually lengthening days and nights. Eventually these effects become more severe and the global consequences increase. The reader is given much to consider and some conclusions to arrive at on our own.
Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams
This book is brilliant! It’s hilarious and heartwarming while being heavy and serious – I’m not sure how the author managed to get it so right. I related to Queenie as a woman and a daughter, her desire to belong resonated with me. The writing was repetitive at times, that’s the only thing keeping it from five stars. The story is genuine, timely, and universal. I enjoyed getting to know Queenie and rooting for her.
Last Day by Domenica Ruta
Advanced copy from NetGalley, Expected publication date May 28, 2019 This is a unique, intriguing novel. The writing is skilled, full of feeling and vivid imagery. We meet a series of flawed humans who we follow throughout the course of one day. These characters are deep, complicated, and despite their mistakes, worth rooting for. While the story is pretty bleak, it’s also thought provoking and the writing alone is worth reading.
The Art of Happy Moving by Ali Wenzke
Advanced copy won in a giveaway, Expected Publication May 7, 2019 Ali calls on her experiences (moving 10 times in 13 years!) to guide readers in a clear straightforward way through the entire moving process. Her writing style is casual and honest: She knows moving sucks! She’s also positive, funny, and realistic. The book is packed full of checklists and other resources to help you stay organized and not forget anything. There are chapters specifically addressing parenting through a move, and how to help your children adjust to a new home and make friends. Even people who aren’t currently planning a move will find useful advice in here for evaluating their current lifestyle and home environment.
Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones
This is a stunning story about two girls who grow up with drastically different lives, although they share the same father. We hear the story from each girl’s point of view, which makes the details even more gut-wrenching to come from children. At the core of this novel is the question: what does it mean to be family? It’s an exploration of what we do for the people we love. The dialogue is rich and realistic. While the overall tone of the novel is sad, it’s done so well there’s also a hopefulness, and a lot of love.
Cocktails With a Dead Man by Joe Albanese
I only connected with a few of these poems, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t well written. The entire collection was obviously crafted with great care and skill. The overall tone of the collection is dark and emotional, which I liked. I can appreciate that these are all genuine works.
Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors by Sonali Dev
Advanced copy from NetGalley, Expected publication May 7, 2019 While slow to start, once all the characters’ lives became intertwined, the pace picked up. I like how my opinions of Trisha and DJ changed throughout the book, as theirs are changed as well, of each other and of themselves. And while this is a romance novel, this story is mostly about families, and the power of keeping secrets. There were serious parts as well as lightness.
The Ex by Alafair Burke
This was a super enjoyable audio book, the story is compelling and the narrator adds a lot of personality to the characters. I had to thoroughly suspend my disbelief in order to get lost in this story Once I did, I was all in! I appreciate the unique plot, it kept me guessing through the majority of the book. There’s a lot of backstory that’s included without feeling like a burden. And while it is a mystery/thriller, there’s also a lot to think about in regard to family, love, and loyalty.
The Frame-Up by Meghan Scott Molin
This is a super fun, unique novel. There’s mystery, crime solving, and a little romance. The writing is solid, and the characters are all lovable, even when they’re mis-behaving. MG is a strong, intelligent woman who works her ass off to prove herself in the male dominated world of comic book artists. The mystery/crime story is fantastic. I was invested in the story was the first sentence to the last. It’s funny and vivacious, the comic book imagery is vivid. All in all, a great read that I’d highly recommend.
The Two-Family House by Lynda Cohen Loigman
This novel is a gripping family saga, written from alternating perspectives of multiple family members.It has a classic feel to it, even though it was written in recent years. The writing is literary quality, and perfectly captures the essence of the culture in America during the span of the novel 1947-1970. It’s the story of two brothers, each living with their wife and children in different sections of the same house. It follows the families through many years, accomplishments, and tragedies. What I found most affecting is the exploration of gender roles and societal expectations at the time Helen and Rose were marrying and having/raising children.