May 9, 2023

What I Read in April 2023

I read seven books in April, which puts me at 32 books for the year. That’s now seven behind my goal to stay on track for 100 books this year. Not a bad month for catching up, and two of them were amazing five star reads!

These two novels were both very different, but both page-turners that were also really emotional!

5 stars:

Adelaide, by Genevieve Wheeler: This is definitely not a rom com, but a heavy contemporary fiction novel that covers some pretty serious topics – and I loved it so much. Adelaide is a 26 year old American expat in London who meets the guy of her dreams, and she falls hard. But as Adelaide tries harder and harder to make Rory happy, he doesn’t give the same effort back – leaving her to question whether she’s the problem. I couldn’t get enough of this book, and really empathized with Adelaide, even / especially as she revealed herself as messy and imperfect. (She felt like a real, flawed human rather than the “hot mess” caricature I loathe in many novels.) I can’t recommend it enough!

In the Lives of Puppets, by T.J. Klune: Gio is an inventor robot who has built an incredible treehouse paradise deep in the woods but is very lonely – until one night, a human mom runs through and leaves her baby boy, begging Gio to take care of him. Gio names the boy Victor and raises him along with two other robots: Nurse Ratched, a nurse robot who’s motherly but blunt, and Rambo, an adorable little Roomba who’s adorable and will do anything to be loved. The story really begins when Victor is 22 and secretly exploring the forbidden scrapyards for parts, only to discover something that upends all of their lives and sets them off on an epic quest to find the City of Electric Dreams. The story was a little bit slow at first, but then I got really into it and found it hard to put down. It’s a pretty dark and foreboding story, but even though it’s sci fi, it has some good parallels to real life and by the end is actually rather believable as a future world. The characters and world are amazingly well developed, and this made me both laugh out loud and cry at alternate points in the story. A beautiful must-read!

4 stars:

Best Served Hot, by Amanda Elliot: I absolutely loved Amanda Elliot’s debut novel, Sadie on a Plate, deeming it one of my favorite rom coms of all time. While this had a Sadie cameo and I still enjoyed it overall, it unfortunately wasn’t quite as good. Julie is a Brooklyn-based executive assistant who moonlights as a foodie influencer on Instagram. She’d love to quit her job and be a full-time food critic, but at the book opening, she’s rejected from the role she applied for at the New York Scroll – and now has a vendetta against the guy who got it, Bennett. Julie agrees to “collab” with him to boost both their profiles, and, unsurprisingly, sparks fly. Unfortunately, while I loved the world that Amanda Elliot built, I really disliked the main character, Julie – who was ridiculously petty and immature. While Julie thinks of herself as a have-not, her entitled attitude, instant dislike, and mean treatment of anyone who HAS money was incredibly off-putting, and I hated the way she looked down on anyone she felt had any privilege (except… Julie never realized she had her own privilege). I still really liked reading this light rom com, and seeing inside the world of foodie influencers – I’ll be looking forward to Amanda Elliot’s next novel, and hoping it goes back to more lovable characters like she’s written before!

A Show of Faith, by Greer Hendricks: On her way into the office, Blair finds a lost wallet, and when building security can’t find the owner, she tracks down Maya herself and the two strike up a relationship. This was a short story, and it left me feeling both intrigued and unfulfilled; it ended very abruptly, with the reader left to figure out what had happened. I would love this as a prequel to a full novel, but as a standalone, it fell short.

Next!: The Power of Reinvention in Life and Work, by Joanne Lipman: Like many people, the last few years have made me question what’s important to me in life and whether I ought to change what I’m doing. Lipman’s book helps people answer the questions of “what’s next, and how do I get there?” by proposing and illustrating a methodology of search/struggle/stop/solution. I found it really helpful to define the phase I’m in, and comforting to realize it’s a journey and I didn’t need to be further along, and I really enjoyed the stories of other successful pivoters in those phases. This was a light, easy read that will resonate most with those already considering a change, and I highly recommend it.

3 stars:

The House in the Cerulean Sea, by T.J. Klune: I liked this, but didn’t love it – fantasy isn’t usually my jam, and I hadn’t realized that’s what this was when I picked it up. Linus is a casework for the Department In Charge of Magical Youth (DICOMY) – basically the equivalent of Child Protective Services, in a world where some people are magical and some are not. While Linus has always dutifully done his job, he gets a special assignment from “Extremely Upper Management” that makes him nervous – he has to live on a remote island to evaluate an orphanage with six dangerous magical children and decide if it should be shut down. I found this somewhat puzzling at first (one of the children is the Antichrist?!), a little bit too saccharine, and ultimately, kind of slow to get to the very predictable feel-good conclusion.

Someone Just Like You, by Meredith Schorr: Molly and Jude grew up as neighbors, and started a fierce rivalry in high school that continues to this day, when they’re both in their 20s and living in NYC. Their parents are still best friends, so Molly and Jude have to help with planning a surprise co-wedding anniversary celebration for their parents. Unfortunately, they childishly approach the planning with mean-spirited pranks and fights, making fools of themselves as they are forced to work together. In a weird plot twist, they both date each other’s doppelgangers before wondering if they ought to be dating each other. Although it’s a fun twist on enemies to lovers, I found myself really annoyed by Molly and Jude’s antics, which felt more like that of teenagers than adults. It was a fun and light read, but I just didn’t love the main characters the way I wanted to.

Any book recommendations for me? Follow me here on Goodreads to keep up with what I’m reading in real time.


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