April is my favorite month of the year. Obviously, the fact that my birthday is in April helps. But, the trees and flowers start to bloom in April. The sun comes out and we begin to have the first nice days of the year. It is never too soon to say goodbye to Winter!!!! Saying goodbye to the winter blaaahs also helps me with finding great books to read. This month was a great one for reading. Between Kirsten and I, we read 19 books this month – all of which get quick reviews in Novel Ideas April 2019.
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Jackie’s Stack –
This book was such a nice surprise. I loved Patrick’s book The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper so I thought I would give this one a try. It was a delightful read. When librarian Martha Storm finds a book of fairytales on her doorstep she is intrigued. When she reads the dedication written to her by her grandmother who had died three years before the inscription, she is inspired to find answers/ Martha uncovers secrets in her past that will change her life as she knows it. I really enjoyed this book 4 stars.
Thank you to Booksparks for my copy of this book. When I picked up this book, I hoped for a little time to read but what I found was a gem of a book that I read in one sitting. This family drama is perfect for a vacation read or reading during extended family time. Kicked out of her family for marrying a man “beneath her”, Julia’s world is shattered on the night her child is born. She has nowhere to turn so she must return home. As Julia tried to pick up the pieces of her life, she begins to uncover the story of her mother’s life as well. This book was easy to get into and hard to put down. 4.5 stars.
Thank you NetGalley for my copy of this book. Wendy Walker has done it again with her newest book The Night Before. Laura has just quit her high profile wall street job and moved home with her sister Rosie after a failed relationship. Laura has always had trouble with relationships but is determined to start again and get it right this time. Rosie has spent her life worrying about her troubled younger sister and trying to protect her from herself. When Laura doesn’t return home from a date from an internet dating site, Rosie assumes that the worst has happened. But, we are not sure if Rosie fears more for Laura or the man that she went on a date with. And as Rosie digs deeper, she begins to uncover information that has her questioning her picture-perfect marriage.
As the story slowly unfolds, we learn about Laura’s past. As a young girl who led with fists first, things aren’t looking good for the man she is on a date with but, he has his own secrets too. This thriller will keep you guessing and keep you turning the page. 4 stars
I cannot believe I am almost up to date on this series. I love this series and I loved this book. Each book is more complex and well thought out than the last. Gamache has depth to his character that is revealed in this book that is unexpected. As an unknown figure shows up in Three Pines and stands without moving in the middle of the town, people become more unnerved. When a body is discovered, secrets are revealed. Meanwhile, the Sûreté du Québecis under siege from drug cartels and losing the battle. 4.5 stars
Wow. This is one of those rare books that really has it all. It was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize as well as the National Book Award and definitely lives up to its hype. It is a beautifully written, powerful and poignant book about the AIDS epidemic in Chicago in the 1980s and its aftermath 30 years later. Yale Tishman is the development director in an art gallery who is about to bring in an extraordinary collection of art from the 1920s. He has just lost his friend Nico and is losing friends all around him. Fast forward to 2015 when Nico’s little sister is in Paris searching for her daughter who disappeared with a cult three years earlier. I cannot say enough about this book. 5 stars.
Thank you to NetGalley for my copy of this book. This book was an unexpected delight. I loved the transitions between the past and the present. Tom and Hannah are such an unlikely pair that their love story is that much more captivating. From the first time that Tom saw Hannah, he was captivated and intrigued. What could am Australian farmer and a well-read, well-educated European woman have in common? They find something in each other that heals their broken hearts. This book was easy to read and unlike any other Holocaust fiction that I have read.
Thank you so Penguin Press for my copy of this book. Ilya and Vladimir are two brothers who could not be more different. While Vladimir gets pulled into a life of drugs, Ilya spends his time studying. With a gift for languages and help from a teacher, he gets a once in a lifetime chance to leave Russia and study in the United States. However, he is racked with guilt that he has left his brother home in Russia. This is a well written and intriguing book. The author’s portrayal of life in Russia is in stark contrast to life in the United States. 3 stars.
I was so excited about this book and could not wait to read it. It lived up to all my expectations and then some. This is the story of a fictional band told from the point of view of the band members and those close to them. Each voice is so unique – the personalities of the members are tangible. I had to check and make sure this was fiction!!! I loved this book. 5 stars
I heard really mixed reviews about this book but I was excited to read it anyway. While it did not have the intensity of the other books in the trilogy, I enjoyed it. It was a fun read. The book goes back to Marcus and Matthew’s past. The book is primarily centered around Marcus and Pheobe who are not as interesting as Matthew and Diana in my opinion. Marcus and Pheobe lack the passion and “star crossed lovers” thing that Diana and Matthew have. 3 stars
Kirsten’s Stack – 11
This book was awful. AWFUL. Listen, I read smut sometimes. I embrace it for the genre that it is and keep the bar pretty low. This was lower than that bar for sure. Putting the terrible writing aside (because I expected that going in,) the romance portion of the book was snooze-worthy. The characters had zero chemistry. The female character brought absolutely nothing to the table and the male character was so bland, I basically can’t remember a single thing about him. Pass on this one. 2 stars.
Girls in White Dresses has been on my TBR for almost a decade now. I finally decided to read this one recently and I found myself totally engrossed. I wish I had read this when it first came out and I was the same age as the protagonists in the book, but it still resonated with me. Any women who has gone through the wedding blitz (you know, those years where your social calendar is made up primarily of weddings and wedding-related events for EVERYONE you know) will relate to this book. It’s a coming of age story that just put a smile on my face. 3.5 stars
Martha Hall Kelly wrote a prequel to the bestselling Lilac Girls and it features Caroline’s mother, Eliza! Set against the backdrop of WWI, this story once again features three narrators. This time the characters are American Eliza, Russian aristocrat Sofya, and Varinka a Russian peasant. It spans across New York, Paris, St. Petersburg, and the Russian countryside. I knew little of Russia during WWI going into this book, so I was startled at just how much destruction and turmoil took place during that time period. If you are a historical fiction lover, this is the book you’ll want to read this spring break! This book has some character overlap with Lilac Girls but it is a stand-alone novel. 3.5 stars.
I saw that this book was coming out as a movie and I scrambled to listen to it before the release date…and then I listened to the second book in the series….and then I decided not to see the movie. Eek! I just couldn’t get past how much of a dick the main character is to the girl he supposedly loves. It’s a classic bad boy falls for good girl story but I just didn’t love it. I’ll probably see the movie when it’s free and I’ll probably finish the series, just not at the moment. 2.5 stars
A cute continuation of Sara Ney’s Douchebag series, The Learning Hours is book 4. Not quite as great as the first few in the story, this book still had heart, romance, and plenty of funny moments. I read this series exclusively on airplanes to help distract me from flying. They never fail to suck me in and make the time fly by. (See what I did there.)
I was a fan of Ware’s hit novel Woman in Cabin 10. I thought it was a unique story and I was anxious to try another of her books. Well, I can’t say I was a fan of this one. It was dark and gothic but nothing really happened. The premise is that a girl is a mistake for the relative of a recently deceased woman and she goes to the estate to try to capitalize on the error. Obviously, things are not what they seemed. This went on for about 120 pages too long and I almost didn’t finish it. 2 stars.
This story about a Palm Beach socialite whose marriage and finances are falling apart was fluffy and fun. It’s VERY heavy on the designer names, fancy restaurants, and chic surroundings, and I ate up every over-the-top description. I spend a tiny bit of time in Palm Beach each winter, so it was amazing to hear about the places I can vividly picture in my head. If you aren’t into fashion or name-dropping, this will not be for you. But it’s a candy delicious treat for a fashion-lover like me! 3.5 stars.
This is one of the most imaginative stories I’ve ever read. A retelling of the story of Noah’s ark from the perspective of his wife Naamah. The writing was poetic and almost psychedelic in quality. Naamah is questioning her faith, her choices, and what it means to be a woman. The dreams, hallucinations, and visits to the future were used in novel ways during the Ark’s journey. This story had me rethinking the classic biblical tale.
If you aren’t afraid to shed a few tears on the beach, this is the book for you. Samantha is in a difficult spot stuck between a husband she loves and a sister he can’t stand. She juggles these complicated relationships as best she can, but when Samantha’s sister is diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer, her world is torn apart. Confronting her life choices in the face of her sister’s mortality, she learns what family really means. 4 stars.
This thriller has been a best seller on all the major book charts recently, so I was really excited to dive in when my library hold came through. The premise sucked me in immediately – a woman murders her husband and then doesn’t say a word for 10 years. Convinced he can help, a psychologist transfers to the facility she is staying out to try to get the real story behind the fateful night of the murder. I really liked it, and then I hated the ending. I won’t spoil it, but it just didn’t do it for me at all. It left me angry and frustrated. 2.5 stars.