March seemed to take a million years and April just flew by. We fell into life of staying at home. My pups got a ton of attention, I spent so much time on my computer in Google Hangouts with my students, watched a lot of TV and read a lot of books! I read five this month- a few contemporary fictions, some thrillers and a romance. I started a new audio book but haven’t quite finished it-I’m excited to write about it next month. I’m also halfway through a kindle selection–that will be coming in May too! I read more physical books this month being stuck inside so much!
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
I stumbled upon the Storied Life of AJ Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin on my library’s e-book section. I needed a new book to read for my Kindle and when I read the description I was intrigued. The story follows a man named AJ Fikry who owns a bookstore on a little island that is only accessible by ferry. He is a bit of curmudgeon since his wife passed away and he is struggling to stay afloat. A mysterious package arrives in his bookstore that changes his entire outlook on life. A love of reading and books is an integral part of the plot. Each chapter begins with AJ writing about a book or short story that touched him in some way.
I loved the characters in the book and one of the characters is named Maya which is my puppy’s name so naturally I was drawn to her. Each character has endearing qualities and I was so taken by life at his bookstore. The book is full of love stories, love between partners, friends, fathers and daughters and books. There were two beautiful lines in the story that brought tears to my eyes. At one point, AJ is trying to describe his fondness of books and how people can connect to stories, he says “We read to know we’re not alone. We read because we are alone. We read and we are not alone. We are not alone.” (pg. 249). Near the end of the story, the author writes, “We aren’t the things we collect, acquire, read. We are, for as long as we are here, only love. The things we loved. The people we loved. And these, I think these really do live on.” It’s such a wonderful book, I laughed, cried and will remember it for a long time. I can’t recommend it enough. I really enjoyed it and I was so glad I stumbled upon it.
A Good Neighborhood by Theresa Anne Fowler
Book of the Month is one of my favorite things I’ve ever signed up for! A Good Neighborhood by Therese Anne Fowler made me feel all sorts of feelings and I was so excited to get it from BOM. It drew me in right away. It’s told from a sort of “all knowing” narrator (maybe the neighbors?) which makes the story flow in a really interesting way. The story takes place in a neighborhood called Oak Knoll, a tight knit community in North Carolina. This novel focuses on a woman named Valerie who is raising her bi-racial son Xavier as a single mom. Her son has always been successful and is getting ready to leave for a prestigious music school in the fall. All is going well until a new family moves into the house next door. The Whitman Family seem to have it all but they tore down the previous house, built a monstrosity and brought their showy new money to the quiet street. The families are very different and find themselves not getting along, first it’s over a historic tree on their shared property line and later the romance between Xavier and Juniper, the teenage daughter.
The book challenges you to decide how you would handle living next to someone whom you didn’t agree with. How much do you fight for what you think is right? How can you be a good neighbor but still stay true to yourself? The book examines race, religion, class, growing up and following your heart.The end of the story is heartbreaking yet hopeful. It is a complicated yet readable story. It reminded me a little of Little Fires Everywhere and this contemporary story is definitely worth the read.
Hour of the Assassin by Matthew Quirk
The Hour of the Assassin is not my typical genre of book but when I read the description on Book of the Month I was drawn to it. It was nice reading something I don’t usually pick up and I did find myself enjoying the drama and intensity of this political thriller. The main character Nick Averose is an ex secret service agent who now works to help security companies understand their weak points. He is on a job involving the security of the home of the ex-CIA director. As he enters the home to complete the job, he is thrown into the middle of a violent crime. Someone is trying to frame Nick and as he tries to get to the bottom of why someone is trying to scapegoat him for a murder he didn’t complete he discovers the dark world of some of the political elite of Washington. As he tries to clear his name he finds a secret network of people vying for the oval office.
This book is a fairly quick read and each chapter is pretty short. I did enjoy how it was so action packed. The main character is rather maucho and always trying to save the people he loves. I liked that the author tried to make some of the supporting characters strong women but I did feel like they were a little damsel in distress at times. The author also quickly reveals who is behind the murder but he is able to draw out the action and still throws in some twists and turns to keep you guessing and on your toes. If you are looking for a fast-paced, action filled read I do suggest this book. It’s by no means my favorite novel of 2020 but I can think of quite a few people who would love to dive into the world of Nick Averose and his assassin-like mind!
The Guest List by Lucy Foley
The Guest List by Lucy Foley was one of my April Book of the Month selections. It is set to be released in June of 2020. That is one of my favorite things about Book of the Month, they often have early releases of great books! This story was mysterious and it sparked my interest right away. It opens up on the evening of a wedding between an up and coming television star and a successful magazine publisher. The first chapter describes the beautiful setting, the guests, the tents and the fact that a body has just been discovered. The story is then brought back to before the murder and it follows a few story lines: the bride, a plus one, the bridesmaid, the best man and the wedding planner.
Every character has their own secrets that link them to each other. There are many motives for different people and it’s hard to tell which character winds up dead! I loved that the book kept me guessing. You are wondering who didn’t wish the couple well and why someone was murdered. As I read, I guessed some of the twists and turns but there were a few that I didn’t expect! The story takes place on an island off the coast of Ireland, the mysterious and haunted setting seems too good to be true. I feel like this would be an amazing audio book, especially if they had different voices for each character. If you plan on picking this one up I would suggest seeing if you can download the audio version! This was a pretty quick read due to the whodunnit nature. I highly recommend it.
Beach Read by Emily Henry
Beach Read was my well deserved light read of April and another Book of the Month pick. I read a lot of heavy and heart wrenching books so I needed something carefree and romantic to bring me through the end of the month. The book follows two writers January and Augustus, they are both living in beach houses on Lake Michigan trying to write their next novel. Both writers have recently fallen on bad luck, they are facing writer’s block and are desperate for something good to come their way. Augustus is known for his dark mysterious novels, January writes romance. They make an agreement- both will try to write in the other’s genre to prove it’s not as hard as it seems! The winner gets bragging rights and the loser has to write a review praising the new novel. Part of the deal includes lessons on how to research crime novels for January and romance boot camp for Augustus. As the two writers work together a friendship blossoms.
January and Augustus learn more about each other and realize there is so much more to the person than they first thought. As January works through her baggage she realizes it’s okay to move on and let love in. The book was fun and romantic. I loved learning about the characters and their past and what made them who they were. It was fun seeing the characters come up with their novels too. I powered through the second half in one night because I was so eager to see what happened with Gus and January. It explores complex relationships, moving on, family drama and creativity. They are both trying to figure out if happily ever after really exists. I really liked it, it was cheesy and romantic and a much needed break from the crummy news of the world right now. It’s set to be released at the end of May, I definitely suggest checking it out if you want something light hearted and fun in the time of pandemic!
That’s it for April. Wisconsin is under “safer at home” until end of May. That means, lots of time for reading books. Can’t wait to review my books next month. Do any of the April books sound good? Hope you check some of them out.