I’ve decided to bring back my monthly book review posts because I really missed doing them. I love to write them, and I’ve heard from people that they love reading them. So, they’re back and I couldn’t be happier about it. I hope you enjoy and find some new books to add to your TBR list!
Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah (★★★★☆)
This book gave me all of the feels. It follows two women throughout their friendship – from their first meeting as young girls in the 70s all the way through college and first jobs and marriage and babies. It shows the ways friendships can ebb and flow over time, how it can change as we evolve into different people with different life paths. The women were frustrating at times, vulnerable at others. I connected much more with Kate than I ever did with Tully, and I felt her struggle so much more deeply. It’s quite the novel at nearly 500 pages, but the time is so worth it. Kristin Hannah definitely knows how to pull at my heartstrings.
Taking a Shot by Jaci Burton (★★★★☆)
This is the third novel in Burton’s “Play by Play” series, and follows the story between professional hockey player Ty and bartender Jenna. Like Burton’s other novels, this one had more sex scenes than seemed necessary, but I was happy that there was more of a conflict between the characters before that all started happening. The overarching theme that Jenna is putting her life on hold to be there for her family was well-explored and I loved the way everything unfolded so naturally. And, who can deny the chemistry between Ty and Jenna? Sizzling!
Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy (★★★☆☆)
I was excited about this book because it features a plus-size protagonist, something I don’t see in many books. (And, if the protagonist is fat, she usually hates her size and all she wants to do is lose weight.) Dumplin’ was different in that this story didn’t center around Willowdean’s weight. Of course, it’s a central theme of the story – loving yourself as you are, and that you are just as deserving of good things as your skinnier counterparts – but there’s more to it than that. There’s friendship and how it evolves, romance and how it can change you, entering a beauty pageant even though you feel as if you may not fit in. As lovely as this novel was, though, I do wish the author hadn’t fallen into the trope of making fun of skinny people (i.e., “twigs”) because body acceptance is about accepting all body types, not just fat ones. I also think the story could have used a more solid plot because there were times the story dragged.
I read this book in 24 hours, as I typically do with James’s novels. She’s the writer I find myself most wanting to emulate in my novel because I love the way her stories develop. This novel followed the story of divorce lawyer Victoria and investigative journalist Ford, and had a cute subplot of the two of them teaming up to help Ford’s sister find the father of her baby, with whom she had had a one-night stand. A fun, light-hearted novel!
This was April’s book club pick, and it definitely had an interesting premise: it’s the early 1900s and a female illusionist’s husband is murdered. She’s the prime suspect and has one night to convince a policeman that she didn’t do it. During this long night, we learn about the illusionist’s past and how she got to where she is today. I find stories about magic to be very hit-or-miss for me (I loved Water for Elephants, but it took me two tries to get through The Night Circus), and I found this novel to be just okay. There were strong characters and a fast-moving plot, but I was disappointed by the ending.
This wasn’t my favorite novel from this author, but it was a good read nonetheless. Higgins’s novels usually have the typical chick-lit tropes in them, but they seemed to be toned down in this novel, thankfully. I also loved that characters from her other novels made cameos – that was a fun surprise!
Another novel I read in less than a day! Dahl’s novels are typically quick reads for me because she creates great conflict and interesting characters, even if the books are a bit raunchier than I typically enjoy. Some parts of this novel felt a little over-the-top, but overall, I loved this novel and the romance between Alex and Sophie.
I read this for the postal book club, a memoir by award-winning poet Jimmy Santiago Baca. I wasn’t too keen on reading it because I knew it would be a heavy read and boy was it. Baca had a very, very tough life – abandoned by his parents at the age of 10, thrust into an orphanage, living on the streets at 14, and then convicted on drug charges at 21. When he entered prison (where he ended up serving six-and-a-half years), he was illiterate, but he learned to read and write while incarcerated. Baca’s story is raw and gut-wrenching and uncomfortable to read at times. I constantly had to set the book down and walk away from it for a while because it was affecting me so profoundly. I’m glad I read it, though, because it reminds me of the power of the human spirit, and how we can persevere even when life looks the most bleak and hopeless.
April Book Stats
- # of pages: 2,831
- Quickest read(s): Suddenly One Summer and Looking for Trouble (less than 24 hours)
- Longest read: The Magician’s Lie (9 days)
- Format breakdown: physical book (4), e-book (4)
- Genre breakdown: romance (4), fiction (2), YA (1), nonfiction (1)
What was the best book you read in April?