What I Read in April

April feels like ages ago, but I’ve finally finished collecting my thoughts on some of my recent reads. I zipped through many of the following books and would recommend just about all of them for summer reads! If you’re putting books on your library’s “hold” list for upcoming vacations, I would especially encourage you to add “Young Jane Young” and “The Stars are Fire,” my two favorite books of April. They may also end up on my top books of the year!

Miller’s Valley by Anna Quindlen

I don’t know what to say about this book! It’s a coming of age story of Mimi Miller, a bright young woman growing up in a small farming town in Pennsylvania. I’m captivated by Quindlen’s writing and I’m still not sure why. This story was very enjoyable.

 

 

 

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

I’m not really proud that I flew through this book and enjoyed it as much as I did. I waited for months on the library’s wait list for the first in the series though. And I can understand the buzz! It’s such a fun read, perfect for the summer. And as a side note, it’s great to see Asians represented in literature. This book has been turned into a movie that will come out in Summer 2018 and features an all-Asian cast, which is very exciting!

 

China Rich Girlfriend (Crazy Rich Asians, #2) by Kevin Kwan &

Rich People Problems (Crazy Rich Asians #3) by Kevin Kwan


The entire series was fun, light, and great as a break between some heavier literature. 

 

Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer

I picked up this book (and the following two books in the trilogy) for my husband at his request. They’re fairly short, but good grief, this book got off to a slow start! I found myself constantly interrupted when reading it, but I think the bigger issue was that I just couldn’t get into it. I strongly disliked the narrator’s voice. There were a couple of things from the plot that interested me but I’m unsure if I’ll finish the series. Someone at my library requested Book #2 so I need to return it before I can pick the rest of the series back up. Gene wants to see the movie and I’m a big proponent of reading the book first, so I probably will relent even though I’m not super excited about it.

 

Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley

Eh. It was cute but also a little weird. It was compared to Life of Pi, which is such an amazing book, that I think my expectations were much too high. “Lily” and is Ted’s twelve year old dog and “The Octopus” is the cancerous tumor on Lily’s head. I did enjoy Ted’s journey as he realized how lonely he had become and he’s able to once again love again. But, there are a lot of fantasy elements in this book, and that’s not something I enjoy. I found myself saying “this isn’t happening” over and over, as I tried to figure out which events were real and which were imagined. I think if you are a dog person, you will probably enjoy this book, but since I’m not, I didn’t connect emotionally with the story very much.

 

The Stars Are Fire by Anita Shreve

I finished this book in a day. A day when I also washed, dried and folded five loads of laundry. And exercised. And cooked. Just so you know, I didn’t shirk my duties to stay glued to this book! It was suspenseful but not in a “thriller” sort of way, more in a human interest kind of way. Shreve’s writing was terse and simple, my favorite style. I loved the setting: post WWII in Maine and the characters, who I was rooting for the whole way through. Plot-wise: we follow a young housewife who is stuck in a less-than-thrilling marriage as a fire ravages her town, affects her family dramatically, and alters the course of her life.

 

Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin

Zevin also wrote The Storied Life of AJ Fikry  which I read years ago and was utterly enraptured by. Seriously, such an incredible novel – especially for anyone who loves books! As usual, because of my high expectations I was nervous to read another book by Zevin, but again, I was blown away. She writes about a congressional intern who has an affair with her boss. She completely uproots her life and starts over but her past catches up to her, of course. It’s a light read but tackles a tough subject. I definitely recommend this one!

 

Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake by Anna Quindlen

I wanted to read a non-fiction book by Quindlen since I’ve been enjoying her writing so much the past two months. This had some real gems in it. But I did feel a bit “young” reading it since I think many of her readers are probably about two decades older than me. She writes a lot about aging, and I could glean some things from it, but I probably wasn’t the target audience.

 

 

The Queen of Hearts by Kimmery Martin

It felt like an episode of Grey’s Anatomy. It was odd to read a book with hospital drama with a plot that really would fit perfectly into primetime TV. This book had a lot of buzz surrounding it this spring, but I didn’t love it. The protagonists were ok. And I disliked the ending, which felt like the last five minutes of Murder She Wrote with the resolution being REALLY spelled out. If there are two characters that are best friends and one is hiding a secret relating to the other, it’s fairly obvious how the plot is going to go. For someone who likes hospital dramas, they may really enjoy this book, I just felt that it wasn’t very original.

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What I Read in March

In the midst of March’s snow days, I discovered a new favorite author, Anna Quindlen. I picked up her newest book at the library and that was that! Quindlen’s books are such a breath of fresh air in this never-ending winter that we find ourselves in. Otherwise, my March reads were enjoyable, with nary a dud! And for an April spoiler alert: I’m reading two different trilogies… among many other great books!

Carnegie’s Maid by Marie Benedict

Carnegie’s Maid by Marie BenedictHistorical fiction with an Irish female protagonist: yes! Besides the wonderful Irish culture that I love reading about, this book focused on the Carnegie family. It brought back memories of middle school social studies classes! I enjoyed learning more about the family and what it may have been like to be “new money” during the 1800s. Parts of it fell flat for me (unbelievable love interest, not an empowering lead character) but I enjoyed it as a historical novel. 

 

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

An American Marriage by Tayari JonesAlmost every book-focused instagram account I follow posted a picture of the gorgeous bright blue cover in early 2018. When I saw it just sitting on a bookshelf at the library, I snatched it up! I loved the story, the characters, and of course, the incredible writing. Best of 2018, for sure. Also, it was interesting to have read Just Mercy last month and then read a novel that dealt with racial injustice. It made the story that much more powerful for me knowing that the plot of this story is a reality for many people in our country.

 

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

Salt to the Sea by Ruta SepetysA YA World War II book. I liked it but I wasn’t wowed by it. It received quite a few awards so my expectations were higher. I do enjoy when I learn something from historical fiction. In this case, I learned about the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff, a German ship filled with refugees that was torpedoed. The story rotated between four narrators, which I would have enjoyed had the chapters not been so SHORT! Some chapters were just a page or two. It made the story feel like I was jumping around a lot and not investing in a character as much. Had I read this as a teenager, I probably would have loved it, but it just fell a little short for me.

 

Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah

Firefly Lane by Kristin HannahI quickly abandoned Winter Garden by the same author (not my taste) and plunged into this older best seller. I can’t say that the quality of the writing was that great, but I did enjoy it once I got into it. Great if you’re pregnant and want a good cry. It focused on the friendship of women through the decades. There is a sequel but I don’t think I’ll be picking it up.

 

Dear Fahrenheit 451: Love and Heartbreak in the Stacks: A Librarian’s Love Letters and Breakup Notes to the Books in Her Life by Annie Spence

Dear Fahrenheit 451 by Annie SpenceI love when I can say, “I’ve never read a book like this before.” It was very true of Dear Fahrenheit 451. Written by a librarian to her books, it’s adorable, funny, and had lots of great recommendations. It’s a quick read and great if you feel a bit stuck between books. As a caveat, it does have a lot of (unnecessary) language.

 

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James BrownGoodness, this was a long read. There are two components to this book: rich history of the early 1900s in the West and so many details about rowing. I loved the history. I wouldn’t have wanted less information about the rowing, though. It was a wonderful, inspiring read. Reminiscent of Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken

 

Still Life with Bread Crumbs by Anna Quindlen

Oh dear, I found a new favorite author! Where has Anna Quindlen been all my life? Our protagonist is an older photographer who leaves New York for a small town. I won’t say more. It was so lovely!

 

 

 


Alternate Side by Anna Quindlen

Alternate Side by Anna QuindlenBe prepared for reviews on every one of Anna Quindlen’s books!!! I’ve got them on hold at the library. I love when the setting of the novel is so crucial to the text that it is like a character. This is very true for this novel, which takes place in New York. This is the story of an upper-class family but also a story about race. Reviews on Quindlen’s newest novel are mixed but I loved this book.

 

Glory over Everything: Beyond The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

Glory over Everything by Kathleen GrissomI was very surprised that I enjoyed this book as much as I did! I loved Grissom’s The Kitchen House and I did not expect that a second book would live up to the first. Jamie was one of my least favorite characters in The Kitchen House but it was interesting to see his character develop. I liked how the format was similar to The Kitchen House, with one than one narrator. Also, I liked that Grissom didn’t feel find it necessary to check back in on every character from The Kitchen House. She introduced new characters that were just  as wonderful and interesting.

 

And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik Backman

And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik BackmanGorgeous novella by the wonderful Fredrik Backman about an elderly man and his grandson. I’m a huge Backman fan and absolutely floored that his books are translated and still read like poetry. 

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