Sunday, May 1, 2016

What I Read in April


I sure did plow through 'em last month! I finished a whopping nine books in April, nearly all of them very good & worth the read. Lately, I find that I'm doing less writing in order to make room for more reading, which is surely a phase, but one I'm not mad about. Reading is a slightly more passive, less stressful way to become one with words, falling into someone else's thoughts instead of churning out my own. I'm sure I'll come back to writing eventually - I always do - but for now, I'm really enjoying all this damn reading.

The Forgotten Girls by Sara Blaedel

This is exactly the kind of mystery novel I love: unpredictable, interesting, & imaginative. It tells the story of police detective Louise Rick, who's investigating the case of an indigent, mentally disabled woman found dead in a local woods. The woman, she learns, was a patient at a nearby asylum... & was declared dead more than 30 years ago. As I read, I started to put together the bits & pieces of the mystery on my own, but the reality of it the ending was richer & more detailed than I could've imagined on my own, which I appreciate - not too easy to guess, but not totally unguessable. ★★★★★

The Good Girl by Mary Kubica

I'd long been looking forward to this book & still can't decide if it met expectations, exceeded them, or fell below them. What a strange novel! Mia leaves the bar with a handsome stranger who proceeds to kidnap her. Their dynamic is fascinating, & so is the parallel dynamic occurring within Mia's family. Her high-powered father doesn't much care that she's gone, but her guilt-ridden mother conducts a desperate search for her, aided by a committed detective. The book is told from their perspectives & that of the kidnapper; interestingly, we don't hear from Mia herself until the very end. This book was well-written, but the pacing was soooo slow & level that even the big twists & reveals at the end were, while surprising, still totally even-keeled. ★★★★☆

Year of Yes by Shonda Rimes

I'd heard mixed things about this book, but I loved it from the get-go. Shonda Rimes speaks in a voice that is familiar to me, comfortable to me, reminiscent of my own. She is a mix of brash & confident & nervous & humble & unsure & badass. She is funny but thoughtful. She is both Meredith Grey & Olivia Pope. And reading her own words about her own life - specifically, how her sister's accusation "You never say yes to anything" inspired her to change her ways - was like seeing how the sausage is made, but in a good way (which is, I know, totally not how that phrase is supposed to work). ★★★★☆

The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant

I've had this one on my shelf for months & should've gotten to it sooner. What a gem! The book is narrated by the elderly Addie Baum, who's telling her life story to her granddaughter, Ava, in response to the question, "How did you become the woman you are today?" Addie, a first-generation American Jew, has lead quite a life: poverty, suicide, sexual assault, family issues... & yet, she remains insightful, wise, & optimistic. This is a poignant, & well-written novel about life in a time period that most of us can't quite imagine. It was a pleasure & an honor to learn of this fictional character's very real life & to live it through her memories. ★★★★★

Deliver Her by Patricia Perry Donovan

I received this book for free as my April Kindle First selection. A lot of Goodreads reviewers call it predictable & unrealistic, & I agree that it is - but I still found it imminently readable & compelling. It's about a family that's falling apart - parents divorcing, a teenage daughter whose best friend has just died. The mother, Meg, sends her daughter, Alex, to a boarding school to shape up, but the transport goes wrong & Alex goes missing in the middle of a New England snowstorm. This is a solid debut novel if you don't need your books to be super deep or intellectual - just entertaining. ★★★☆☆

Call Me Princess by Sara Blaedel 

As terrible as the title of this book is, I'm pretty into this author right now; she's Denmark's bestselling novelist, apparently, though as far as I can tell, she's basically a Danish Mary Higgins Clark. Confusingly, this book is the second title in the series I couldn't start from the beginning, because the first book hasn't yet been published in English. It was entertaining enough, & it kept me guessing, though, as with the other Blaedel book I read in April, the conclusion felt a bit rushed & slightly less climactic than I'd hoped it would be. Still, I'm looking forward to more from her. ★★★☆☆

Food Rules: An Eater's Manual by Michael Pollan

Aside from memoirs, I don't usually read nonfiction, so this is pretty far out of my comfort zone - but at less than 100 pages, this book is so short that it seemed worth a try. Pollan, a journalist, takes a simple but fascinating look at diet in America, including how it compares with the rest of the world: what we eat, why we eat it, &, above all, how we can do better. I know that some of Pollan's 64 "food rules" will stick with me long beyond my half hour reading of this short book. ★★★★★

To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han

I don't know why, but I thought this book was a memoir. It's not. Oops. It's actually a YA novel about a teen girl named Lara Jean who writes love letters to the boys she has crushes on as a way of helping herself move on.. & is mortified to find out that someone has not only discovered her letters but has sent them to the people they're about.Other reviewers found Lara Jean grating, unlikable, & too young-sounding, but I thought she was charming, quirky, & completely age-appropriate. This was an easy & enjoyable read that had me relieved I'm long past the unrequited-high-school-crush phase of life. ★★★★☆

BONUS: The Grownup by Gillian Flynn

I'm not sure this counts as a book, but hey, it's published independently, & I read it... This short story, originally written for Game of Thrones mastermind George R. R. Martin, is about a phony psychic who takes on a seriously distressed client with a potentially haunted house & a disturbed stepson - maybe. The psychological twists keep coming, even in 64 short pages, as one would expect from the author of Gone Girl. It won an Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America. ★★★★★

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Please note that my "What I Read in..." posts include Amazon affiliate links to the titles I discuss. If you buy a book using one of these links, I will receive a small percentage of commission. Please don't feel any obligation to use these links, but please also don't judge me for including them. 
 

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