Books I Read April 2020

by - Monday, May 04, 2020

After a pretty lackluster month of reading in March, I managed to find my groove again in April thanks in large part to being very intentional about the books I chose to read. Quarantine times are weird, and reading has always been about entertainment and relaxation to me.

This month I specifically sought out books that were either fun and light or pulled me in so quickly that I couldn't put them down. That really helped make me want to pick up books again and spend time curled up on my sofa with them.

I imagine that will continue to be the trend as long as we are stuck with social distancing. Real life is stressful enough as it is right now, and in order for reading to be an escape from that, I'm planning to shy away from anything super heavy right now (unless I happen to get off the hold list at the library for a book I've been waiting on for months, like a couple of the books below).

Here are the 16 books I read/listened to this month.

April 2020 books

Five Stars

We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter
Oh my gosh this book was tragic and beautiful, and half the time I couldn't even believe it was true. One family was ripped apart by World War II and had to fight to survive in countries through out the world. The way the book jumps from person to person and place to place was so compelling and made this book read more like a novel than a family history.

Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano
I'd heard this was a really great book, and I was stuck on the waitlist for a long time. But it was definitely worth the wait, and I tore through it. The book follows the story of Edward, the sole survivor of a plane crash. The story jumps back and forth between Edward in the present day, trying to get over the trauma and Edward on the airplane not knowing what's about to happen.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris
This book was beautifully written and such an incredible story about two people attempting to survive the horrors of Auschwitz. It makes me look forward to reading the next book in this series.

Life Undercover: Coming of Age in the CIA by Amaryllis Fox
It's rare that I find a memoir this griping and hard to put down. After reading tons and tons of fiction books about CIA spies and clandestine operations (see my love of Vince Flynn books), I loved getting an inside look at one real spy's experience in the CIA. From recruitment through her 10 years working on covert missions, I thought Fox painted a picture of both the rush of her missions and the impact her secret life had on her personal life.

Four Stars

The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine
I tore through this book. It was weird and twisted and I couldn't put it down. The book starts following Amber, who has moved to a wealthy neighborhood in CT for the explicit purpose of trying to lure a filthy husband away from his wife. She befriends the wife and starts working her magic to subtly try to seduce the husband. Half way through the book switches to being told from the wife's point of view, and be doing things get crazy from there. Highly recommend if you're looking for some crazy escapism.

All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda
I listened to this as an audio book and I think because I listened to it and wasn't physically reading it, I had a harder time following the story line in the beginning. The book starts at one point and then jumps 15 days into the future and tells the story of the missing girls in reverse. It's actually a really compelling way to tell a suspenseful story, but it took me a bit to figure that out in the audio version, and I think that would be have been easier to catch right away if I were reading and not listening. Once I figured out what was going on, I really liked this book, and I'd certainly recommend it.

The Last Widow by Karin Slaughter
I've found during my quarantine times, that suspense books make the best audio books. Karin Slaugher's latest in the Will Trent series did not disappoint. This book was a little too real and dove into the dark world of the alt-right movement in Georgia. When a scientist at the CDC is kidnapped, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation works to solve her disappearance. Will and Sara are pulled into a scary world of revolutionaries for the alt-right cause. Couldn't stop listening.

With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo
This was my April book club book recommended by the DC Public Library's book club. It tells the story of Emoni, a high school student from North Philly with a passion and skill for culinary arts trying to balance high school demands while raising her young daughter. I loved so many things about this book -- the fast-paced Spanglish dialogue, the strong family bonds and Emoni's determination and stubbornness. This was a fast, but really enjoyable read.

The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter
Another great audio book for my quarantine walks and quarantine house work. This book pulled me in pretty quickly when right away two gunmen showed up at the Quinn house. You get a quick look at the past, but then jump 28 years into the future to a school shooting in the same small town. One of the Quinn girls is the lawyer called in to represent the shooter. This book unpacks past trauma while trying dealing with a new deeply traumatic situation.

One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid
I needed a break from heavy World War II books and Taylor Jenkins Reid delivered. This book was super thought-provoking, but at the same time was a really fun and fast read. The main character's husband is in a helicopter crash and is presumed dead. After grieving for years, she eventually moves on and falls in love with someone else and gets engaged. That's when she gets a call from her husband saying that he's alive and has been saved and is coming home to her. I don't know where TJR gets the ideas for her books, but this was kind of crazy and I was so invested in seeing what happened.

The Assistants by Camille Perri
If you set aside the fact that this book isn't very believable, it's a pretty fun Robin Hood, rob from the rich, give to the poor type story. In this case, the robbing was done by an assistant to a wealthy media mogul and she used the money to pay off her student loans. As more assistants find out about what happened, they want to get in on the scheme and pay off their own student loans. Fun and fast read.

Three Stars

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins
I picked up this book after reading so many articles about the controversy surrounding it. I felt like I was missing a big chunk of understanding by not reading it. And I think I largely agree with a lot of what was said. The story itself was gripping, but there were also some decisions Lydia made that didn’t make a whole lot of sense or just seemed straight up stupid to advance the plot.

Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton
This book jumps back and forth in time from the Cuban Revolution to present day Cuba. I found the story that took place at the time of the revolution to be the most interesting because I learned a lot more about the revolution than I had known before. The story that took place in present times was fine, but it was a little bit harder to believe and some things seemed to tie up a bit too nicely. Overall, I enjoyed it. I just found one story line way more compelling than the other.

Fallen by Karin Slaughter
I listened to this book mainly on my walks and while I was working on a house project in the bathroom. It was good, but it didn't pull me in as much of some of Slaughter's other books. I'm not sure if it was because I was distracted with work while listening, or because it was one of the older books in the series, and I already have the read more recent ones and know the character development, but I only felt so, so about this one.

The Scent Keeper by Erica Bauermeister
It took me a little bit to get into this book since the premise is a little odd. The story starts when Emmeline's father runs away with her to a deserted island. They live there together for years and he tells her tales of the power of scents to capture our memories. Eventually Emmeline grows up and starts questioning her father's stories and wondering how they really came to live on the island. Her quest for answers pulls her far outside of her comfort zone. As the book went on, I found myself cheering for Emmeline and wanting her to succeed in her quest for answers and ultimately finding her place in the world.

Two Stars

Love Her or Lose Her by Tessa Bailey
This book was on one of the many lists of fun and easy books to read during quarantine, and it was definitely a light and easy read about a couple trying to save their marriage. Toward the end of the book though, I felt like some of the romance scenes kind of crawled. I felt like I felt when reading 50 Shades -- like I could have skipped entire pages of the book and not really missed anything.

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