Book Reviews: Everything I Read in March & April
A goal that I set for myself at the beginning of the year was to read 50 books in 2021. At the end of February, I lost a little steam and felt like I was not gonna make it. I mean, I know it was only February and I had a whole year ahead of me, but I felt like I was falling behind in the race against my goal. I am happy to report that the book bug bit me hard soon after that little lapse and I’ve been on a streak. A couple I have listened to, but I still count that because I’m spending time consuming the content put out by an author. Since my last review, I’ve added 14 books, bringing my total so far up to 21, and today I am going to review those 14 for you. FYI, maybe it was my state of mind, but there are several high-praise books on this list with 4-5 stars. I went. back through and thought about changing some of them, but I judge books on how they made me feel, so I trusted my gut. Enjoy! (You can click on the link or the image of the book to shop. I am an Amazon associate and earn a small commission from qualifying purchases made through links.)
Broken in All the Right Places– Jenny Lawson: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ This book will undoubtedly be my favorite of 2021. I am a huge fan of Jenny Lawson and how she tackles the delicate subject of mental health, suicide and anxiety with rawness, wit and humor. She’ll forever be one of my favorite authors and humans and I hope that one day I get the chance to meet her. This book lived up to the standard her previous books set for me and I would read it again and again and get something new from it or laugh at a different part each time.
Buy Yourself the F*cking Lilies– Tara Schuster: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2 I loved this book so much that I bought it for a friend for her birthday. When I first cracked it open, I thought it was funny but that I wouldn’t find it relatable at all. I was so wrong! This book is hilarious, part memoir, part self-help and filled with lots of advice for anyone just trying to be the best version of their true selves.
Here for It: Or, How to Save Your Soul in America– R. Eric Thomas: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 1/2 Another part memoir that I adored. I’d never read R.Eric Thomas before, to be honest, but a friend had recommended this book to me when I asked for funny writers to inspire me. He’s a columnist for Elle.com and now I want to go read everything he’s written. He’s hilarious, but so refreshingly honest and real. His essays are very much about his journey to self-discovery as a gay Black man in America. His book was one that I listened to and loved hearing him read it because it truly conveyed his feeling and personality.
Between the World & Me– Ta-Nehisi Coates: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ This book was one I listened to because that’s how it was available via my library and it was only 3.5 hours long. It’s written as a letter from an American Black man to his teenage son and read by the author in the audio format. While it was short, it was absolutely moving. My eyes are open after the last year, but this account felt so emotional and raw that it truly moved me. I think it’s an important book for anyone in America to read.
Share Your Stuff, I’ll Go First– Laura Tremaine: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ This book is one to be shared with friends and then you need to get together and discuss. It’s filled with all sorts of deep questions to ask your friends and ask yourself. The author poses a question, then the chapter ahead is filled with her answers and stories. At the conclusion of each chapter, the reader is encouraged to journal and answer, and then share these conversations with friends. I am hoping to get my girls to read it and then have great deep discussions complete with wine. My book group will be discussing this one on Saturday morning and I am looking forward to the honest conversations that come out of it.
Wow, No Thank You– Samantha Irby: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Again, this one came from a recommendation and I am so glad I went for it! I had read Irby’s We Are Never Meeting in Real Life and liked it, but this one I truly loved. This book is a collection of essays about her life and are written with such hilarious honesty and relatability. I chose the audio version as read by the author whose delivery is dry and perfection. My favorite chapter was Body Negativity where she runs through all of the maintenance society would have us think we need. The subsequent chapter was about taking care of a home and I was playing it while Chris and I cleaned the house one morning. He was laughing along with it. Warning: her writing is so honest that it can sometimes be a little – ok, a lot – disgusting. You just gotta laugh at the gross things our bodies go through.
The Great Pretender– Susannah Cahalan: ⭐️⭐️1/2 I read this along with my book club in February and I was the only one who truly didn’t like it. The author goes on a search for knowledge about a psychiatric experiment performed over the years of the late 60s into the 70s. The book is heavy on informational backstory and research but feels like it gets absolutely nowhere. As a person who once considered becoming a psychologist and lost someone I truly love to bipolar disorder, I honestly thought I’d be much more interested, but it felt like reading a text book and I had to force myself through it.
The Four Winds- Kristin Hannah: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ The Four Winds was our March book club read and I was so relieved to have one I loved after the February selection. This book told the story of Elsa, a woman who is married out of wedlock and moves in with her new husband’s family on their farm as the dust storms prior to the Great Depression begin. Throughout so many challenges in relationships and life, Elsa’s strength of character and perseverance continue to grow. The Four Winds is about friendship, love, mother-daughter relationships and what it really means to be family. I found myself in tears so many times throughout Elsa’s story. And when it ended, I needed a couple of days to mourn the book being over.
The Giver– Lois Lowry: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Sawyer asked me to read this book and begin this series so that we could chat about it. It’s a young adult dystopian fictional tale about a boy named Jonas who lives in a world where people are assigned their roles in society. Babies who are not healthy and seniors who are no longer contributing citizens are disposed of. Like any good dystopian tale, it’s a look at what could happen in our world. I really did enjoy it but gave it 4 stars because it feels slightly more juvenile than YA and I felt the author could go a little deeper with her story. All of that being said, it was interesting and quick.
Gathering Blue– Lois Lowry: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ This book is the follow up to The Giver and 2 out of 4 books in the series. This one tells the tale of Kira, a girl born with a leg deformity who lives in a separate village from Jonas, although his existence is alluded to a couple of times. Because she has a special skill, she is allowed to continue to live in the village after her mother dies. She’s moved to what seems like a palace to her, but she soon realizes the truth that she’s a prisoner in this place, a slave to the skill that saved her life. Again, a great story and quick read, but for the reasons I gave the first book of the series 4 stars, I gave this one the same.
The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse– Charlie Mackesy: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ This book was more of a collection of thoughtful and beautiful illustrations, but I wasn’t sure where to put it. It’s the kind of book you give as a gift, which is actually how it came to me. The story is so sweet with thoughtful insights and inspirational words. Just a beautiful book about friendship and feelings and acceptance.
Girl in Snow– Danya Kukafka: ⭐️⭐️ 1/2 This book tells the story of the murder of a high school girl, Lucinda Hayes, the girl who despised her because she was everything she wasn’t, the boy who was obsessed with her in a stalker kind of way and the police officer investigating the murder. It was a best seller and I was expecting much more from it, but I just thought it was written in a way that felt like it was trying too hard to be cool but instead just left me feeling disconnected to the characters and not especially liking any of them. SPOILER: The murderer ends up being a peripheral character we barely get to know and while I understand that might have been unexpected, it just didn’t tie it all together neatly and felt like the author did it just to surprise us.
Mirrorland– Carole Johnstone: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 1/2 LOVED this book! Mirrorland had all of the elements of a good book: an interesting back story, mystery, a dead body, and plot twists. I plowed through this book in just two days. It’s about twin sisters who are grown and one lives in Scotland in the house they grew up in and the other has moved to California to get away. The Scotland sister goes missing and is presumed dead, but her sister feels she isn’t gone and returns to their childhood home in search of answers. She finds both answers and memories she’s buried deep inside of herself about their dark past. I LOVED this book – if you like thrillers, give it a read!
The Drowning Kind– Jennifer McMahon: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2 I started writing this review when I had 80 pages left. I had it at 4 stars. Then yesterday, during nap time, I finished the rest of it and bumped it up to a half because I LOVED the ending and the epilogue. Jennifer McMahon is a favorite author of mine who weaves together creepy, supernatural and family tales together like no one else. Her latest book just came out and I was thrilled to pick it up. Lexie and Jax grew up going to Sparrow Crest to their Gram’s house every summer, where strange things happen in the pool. The springs that fill the pool have a long history of evil mystical happenings. Now an adult, Lexie is found dead in the pool and Jax returns to the place where she spent much of her childhood to grieve the loss of her sister and find out if there’s something sinister lurking in the water. Throughout the book, we flip between Jax’s story, and that of Ethel Monroe who lived in that spot in the early 1930s. This book was a classic McMahon and had me intrigued!
Well, I know there are still 4 days left this month, but I’ve got a busy week and won’t be finishing anything else this month. I’d love to hear what you’ve read lately that I need to know about.